Garden Edging, Houston-Style

Do you remember when you were first learning to color and you discovered the power of outlining features within the drawing—how it brought order and (dare we say this of our five-year-old selves) a touch of expertise to your masterpiece? This is the purpose of garden edging. It defines your yard, adding a decorative and functional aspect to your landscape design. Garden borders also help keep weeds out and make trimming easier.

To delineate garden beds and provide visual interest, you want to find materials that are practical and look good, but also serve as important touches that complete and complement your landscaping features. Use materials such as brick, stone, metal, wood (rot-resistant woods such as cedar or treated wood works best for garden edging because they don’t decay as quickly when in contact with soil), gravel and pavers. For a less structured look like you would find with an old-fashioned garden, you can even use foliage. Borders are ideal when you want to keep grass out of the garden, yet still want flowers and other plants to spill over without intruding onto the grass.
Consider using decorative edging material to coordinate with the rest of your landscaping features. For example, if your landscaping has plantings that are of the native variety, choose a rustic edging material, such as river rock. Choosing any type of wood, from landscape timbers to fresh-cut cedar logs also works well with native plants. If your garden features a formal brick walkway, choose brick paver edging to tie the entire look together.

Other ideas include using both concrete and brick pavers as edging material. You could even use this material to make a simple and classic border.
Paver borders work well for straight, formal gardens but even better for informal yards with gradual curves and varying slopes.

Landscape timbers make an excellent edging for a raised garden bed. For the do-it-yourselfer, you can set a single height of 4-by or 6-by timbers into the ground and securing them to each other where they meet. Three layers of timbers begins to stretch the term “edging” and starts to qualify as a retaining wall, which involves different procedures and code requirements.

Other suggestions if you’re up for that weekend project: before starting, test out possible outlines for your border with a rope or hose. Also call your local utilities to locate underground lines before you dig and install all edging.

All that remains to be done is to think about your plantings. Think in terms of the garden bed and its basic elements ― lacey fringes, accent colors, layers of short-to-tall plantings, and repeating color patterns.

Additional ideas to complement your edging:

  • Add landscape lighting.
  • Choose edging in a contrasting material and color than an existing pathway. For example, if you want to add edging around a brick paver walkway, you might pick a contrasting brick colors, lay the same color brick edging in the opposite direction, or choose a different material, such as granite pavers, for the path edging.
  • Build a retaining wall out of the same material as your edging. It does more than make a clean border along your lawn. It’s a handsome visual statement in itself, a great way to add depth and texture to a flat, featureless yard—and it’s practical.