How to Edge Around Trees & Mulch Beds

When looking at a professionally maintained yard or landscape, you may wonder what about it looks so clean and appealing. You may have the same plants, trees, or even the same design, but you still feel something is missing.

A small but important detail in landscaping is edging. Edging creates a border around a tree or garden to keep mulch from migrating off your treescape or flower beds and into your yard. It also provides a barrier for weeds, grass, and other nuisance plants and creates a tidy appearance to your property.

Edging may seem like a complicated process but by breaking it down, you can easily accomplish that pristine look to your yard in no time.

How to Create Edges Around Your Mulch Beds (Trees, Garden)

There are a few different types of methods and materials you can use to edge your garden or tree. Spade-cut edging is the simplest type of border. It involves using a spade to dig a narrow trench around the outside of the bed or tree you are setting apart. Other types of edging include:

  • Strip edging: Consists of a shallow barrier anchored beneath the ground with the top part of the edging visible to subtly set apart the grass and section you want to be separated. Strip edging works best for creating curves and comes in plastic and metal varieties.
  • Masonry edging: Composed of stone, brick, or concrete. Masonry edging is the most expensive type. Stone is attractive and allows you to match new borders with any existing stonework in your yard, while concrete borders come in pre-formed sections of different shapes and styles. This makes concrete an easily installed piece.
  • Wood edging: Comes in precut sections of alternating heights, either as round logs or flat boards. Wood edging is durable and affordable. The types of wood used for these pieces are mostly cedar, cypress, and redwood, which naturally resist rot.

Edging Around Flower & Garden Beds

The most common form of edging around a flower and garden bed is the spade-cut version. To do this, follow these edging steps:

  1. You should face the garden bed and use the spade to slice into turf repeatedly until you’ve outlined the entire bed
  2. Once you’ve contoured the edging’s shape to your desire, face away from the bed and slice into the turf at an angle to sever the grass.
  3. Remove the clods and dispose or compost them. This creates a v-shaped trench that slows migration of grassroots into the bed and prevents mulch migration.
  4. If desired, you can also add wood, metal, concrete, or plastic edging for extra support and decoration.

The biggest disadvantage of digging the trench is having to periodically re-dig it. If you decide to add wood, metal, concrete, or plastic to your edging, there are a few disadvantages to those as well. Steel and concrete are the most expensive, and concrete is a permanent option that can settle and crack over time. Plastic can be unreliable—it’s difficult to install and can lift out of the ground easily, causing grass and weeds to come through the edging.

Deciding on which method or material to use for your edging is dependent on your lawn goals and willingness to maintain the edge.

How to Edge & Mulch Around A Tree

Mulching around a tree has several benefits. The mulch insulates the soil and provides a buffer from heat and cold. It retains water to help roots stay moist and keeps weeds out to avoid root competition. Mulch also may decrease soil compaction over time and reduces lawnmower damage. With so many benefits, it only makes sense to ensure your mulch stays in place around the tree. Here are the steps for mulching around a tree:

  1. Edging and mulching around a tree starts with shoveling patches of grass (make sure you don’t scrape tree roots!) within a 3-foot area for a tree up to 10 feet tall and up to 2-4 inches deep
  2. If a section is hard to dig, don’t force it! It could be a small root lying under that portion of turf
  3. Once the grass is removed, apply 2-4 inches of mulch all the way around the tree to the drip line, making sure to leave some space around the trunk.
  4. The dripline of a tree is the edge of the canopy where water would runoff. To measure the dripline, measure the diameter of the tree’s crown.

What Not To Do When Edging in Your Landscape

There are three common mistakes people make while edging a landscape. In order to be successful in your project, make sure you avoid these missteps:

  • Preparation: To avoid unexpected or last-minute changes to design, walk around your yard with a notebook and pencil to sketch out your desired configuration. Keep growing space in mind to avoid the edge getting covered by mature growth or shrubs while making your sketch.
  • Budgeting: Most edging materials are sold by the foot. Measure the distance you want to edge using the foot-to-foot technique to get an approximate measurement and help set a price point.
  • Soil preparation: Prepare supporting edge soil against unwelcome grass and weed growth through your weed deterrent of choice.

Now that you know how to edge your garden and trees, figure out which mulch works best for your garden!

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