Everything You Need To Know About Lawn Edgers

You have mowed your yard, weeded it, and raked, but you are not quite finished yet. No matter how perfect your lawn may be, if you do not pay attention to the edges it is going to end up looking sloppy. The thin strips of grass that line your driveway, surround your flower beds, and is around your patio and walkways is just as important as the large expanses of grass around it.

When it comes to taking care of these edges of grass your regular lawn mower is not going to cut it. Regular lawn mowers are too wide to handle these small areas to create nice sharp edges.

Man Using an Electric Lawn Edger

In order to keep these areas looking clean and well maintained you are going to need to invest in a good quality lawn edger and learn how to use it the right way. If you have some extra cash you could hire a landscaper to do this work for you.

What Is A Lawn Edger?

A lawn edger or edging tool can be either manual or motorized. This lawn equipment has been designed to form distinct boundaries around your lawn. For example, the lawn edger will trim the strips around your mailbox, paved areas, areas of gravel or sand, or areas where the soil is not covered.

There are six main types of lawn edgers:

  • Manual
    • Spade based
    • Hand shears
    • Roller based
  • Motorized
    • String Trimmers
    • Single Wheel Designs
    • Multi Wheel Designs

A purpose designed lawn edger is more efficient for any long and even edges in your yard. A string lawn trimmer is more efficient for any angular edges and for around interrupting features such as rocks. Often times string edging attachments are available for your weed eater or other cutting device.

What is the difference between a Lawn Edger and a String Trimmer - EdgeMyLawn

Some of the typical situations where lawn edgers are used including for defining clean boundaries and for stopping grass incursion between walkways and lawns or for gardens located on private properties and in public areas and on golf courses around sand traps or around the greens and on fairways.

Let’s take a closer look at how lawn edgers work and the different types of lawn edgers that are available.

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More About The Types Of Lawn Edgers

Before learning how to use a lawn edger you are going to need to choose one. This is a situation where your landscape savvy neighbors or the salesperson at a local home improvement store will come in handy.

As mentioned, edgers come in different forms there are wheeled edgers and stick pole types from which to choose. You will also need to decide between a gas powered or electric powered edger. There are also manual hand edgers where you are the power. If you are considering a manual edger remember that you will be the power and using one of these can be quite time consuming, especially if you have a larger yard.

Using a Gas Powered Lawn Edger

Gas powered lawn edgers are often much heavier and make more noise than an electric edger. However, gas powered edgers are better for cutting through heavy grass and weeds or brush. The price can range from as little as $20 up to over $200, dependent on the features that you choose. Typically you will not need a more expensive edger unless you are a professional landscaper or you have some heavy duty trimming to complete.

The other option is an electric lawn edger. These edgers will run either using a cord that plugs into an outlet or are powered by a battery. These lawn edgers are lightweight and designed with smaller yards in mind as they have to be tethered to the home in order to run. The price for an electric lawn trimmer will vary, but there are several quality electric edgers available for under $100.

Manual Lawn Edgers

For those that are not familiar with lawn edgers, some of the units may seem like a torture device that was used during medieval times. One of the more popular designs of a manual lawn edger features a rolling wheel that has spikes on it. This wheel is attached to a wooden handle. The design is simple, but it can get the job done.

Manual edgers remain a popular choice because of their simplicity. These lawn edgers can help homeowners spruce up different areas of the yard by creating clear and defined edges around gardens and sidewalks. Edging with a manual edger will take a bit of power, but it will help keep weeds from growing over onto the sidewalk or driveway and also trims up areas where a weed eater or lawn mower cannot get to.

Some of the reasons that people prefer manual lawn edgers overpowered ones include:

  • Durability: there are some manual edgers that have wheels with bearings that provide a more consistent edging. These edgers have a basic design and can withstand the test of time. Since there are so few parts there is very little to worry about when it comes to maintenance, unlike a string trimmer attachment that is at the mercy of the pull cord, engine, and other equipment that can misfire.
  • Convenience: manual lawn edgers do not take up much space and they can be taken out at any time to use. You do not have to worry about whether or not you have enough gas to start your gas powered edger and you also do not have to mess with dragging out extension cords just to tidy up a small area of the yard.
  • Cheap: while you can purchase an edger attachment for your weed eater that does not cost much, these often have to be replaced quite frequently. Manual edgers start out at around $15 and they will last for many years.

Gas Powered Lawn Edgers

The most powerful lawn edgers available run on gasoline. These machines typically use engines that have power ratings measured in cubic centimeters. The smallest gas powered lawn edgers are typically rated from 20 to 50 cubic centimeters. A larger more machine will have four cycle engines that are rated from 130 to 160 cubic centimeters. Many of these larger edgers are quite heavy, but they are not typically too large to lift into the back of a truck.

There are several things to consider when purchasing a gas powered lawn edger. If you do not want to mix oil and gas and are concerned about the environmental impact of the machine you may want to consider a lawn edger that has a four cycle engine. These edgers will run cleaner than the 2 cycle machines.

McLane 801 5.50GT Gas Powered Lawn Edger on a Driveway

Another consideration is a fourth wheel. Having an extra wheel on the machine helps with stability and will allow you to edge the curb areas more effectively.

Gas powered lawn edgers are best for bigger yards that have many areas that require frequent edging. Since these machines can be quite noisy they are not the best choice for quieter neighborhoods. If you live in the right area and have a yard that requires frequent edging, a gas powered edger is recommended.

Some of the reasons that people choose a gas powered lawn edger include:

  • Power: these are the most powerful edgers on the market
  • Durability: gas powered lawn edgers are made of strong materials that will stand the test of time
  • Large yards: if you own a larger yard, a gas powered lawn edger will help you get through all of your edging jobs quickly and efficiently.

If you are concerned about the environment and the noise that the edger will make, a gas powered edger may not be the best choice.

Electric Lawn Edgers

The next type of lawn edger is the electric lawn edger. There are two types of electric lawn edgers, corded lawn edgers and cordless or battery lawn edgers.

Both types of electric lawn edgers are typically lightweight and small. A corded electric lawn edger will have motors that are rated for power in amps. The typical power of an electric lawn edger is ten to twelve amps. Power for cordless or battery lawn edgers is measured in volts. The most common size for a battery powered lawn edger is 18 volts.

When looking for an electric powered lawn edger you should choose one that has a strong blade. The typical blade size is 7 or 9 inches. If you are choosing a unit that is corded it is important to choose one that has a feature to help keep the extension cord from becoming tangled.

There are several units that feature a cord that will not come unplugged easily as you are moving around your yard.

WORX WG 896 12 Amp 2-in-1 Electric Lawn Edger

If you are considering a battery powered lawn edger choose one that uses a lithium ion battery. These batteries have a longer life span, which will provide you with more consistent power over time.

Electric lawn edgers are not as powerful as gas powered edgers, which means it can take more time to edge along areas that have been left for a long time. Once you have your edges under control, a good electric edger will be an effective option for keeping your edges under control when they are used regularly.

  • Some of the reasons to consider an electric lawn edger include:
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • No carbon emissions, which is better for the environment
  • Powerful enough for most homes

One of the main issues with electric lawn edgers is that they have to be plugged in to work. This can be a problem if you have a larger yard as you will have difficulty reaching some of the areas that are further away from your home.

While a battery powered lawn edger is a good option, you have to worry about the battery running out of power before the job is finished. In addition, as the battery is wearing down it may not cut as well.

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Using A Manual Edger

If you have decided to purchase and use a manual edger, the first step you are going to want to take is to inspect the areas where you are planning to use the tool. If there is any ground cover over the cement, use a spade to loosen it. This will make finding the edge of the cement much easier during the edging process.

Manual edgers are often used around existing flower beds or to create new beds. The blades of a manual edger are often in a half moon shape in order to make creating rounded edges easier. A rotary edger will have a spiked wheel attached to a long handle and is best for areas with straight edges.

Using A Half Moon Edger

Basic Half Moon Lawn Edger

The first step for using a half moon edger is to mark the area that you are going to create a new bed and need a crisp edge to separate the area from the grass. If you are freshening up a current edge you can skip this step.

In order to mark a straight edge you will use a set of stakes. Hammer a stake at each end of the path and then tie a string between the 2 paths. This will be your guide. If the edges will be curved you can use a garden hose in order to indicate the arcs.

After you have marked the area you will pick up the manual edger and stand at one end of the planned edging. The rounded edge of the manual edger will be aligned with the string or the hose if you are creating a new bed.

Next, tilt the handle back around 45 degrees and then place one of your feet on top of it and push down until the rounded edge is in the turf about 2 or 3 inches. Rock the edger from side to side and forward and backwards to ensure that the soil is loosened and that you get a good cut.

Continue this process all the way to the end and then repeat it coming back the other way. Use a straight edged shovel to remove the turf. You can then add fresh mulch around the edge of your existing bed or start planting your new bed.

Using A Rotary Edger

Using a Rotary Lawn Edger

If you choose a rotary edger you will want to first take a shovel that has a flat edge and use it to remove any vegetation that has grown over the edges of your walkways. This will help to locate the edge to keep you on track.

Start at one end of your walkway and hold the manual rotary edger firmly with one hand. Line the wheels up so that they are on the walkway and the cutting spikes are positioned between the hard surface and the turf.

You will then push down on the rotary edger to push the cutting spikes into the ground. Continue pushing down as you roll it back and forth about a foot. This may take several times before you get through the vegetation. Once you have a clean edge, move forward along the path.

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How To Use A Gas Or Electric Powered Lawn Edger

If you have decided to go with an electric or gas powered edger, the first thing that you are going to need to do is put the lawn edger together. There are some lawn edgers that will come completely assembled and you will simply be able to take it out of the box and begin using it. However, most lawn edgers are going to require some assembly.

Most lawn edgers will come with clear instruction manuals on how to assemble the pieces in addition on how to properly use the machine. Make sure that you read over these carefully.

Where To Use A Power Edger

Once you have read the instructions, you are next going to want to choose the areas around your yard that you are going to use the edger on. You can use these gas or electric powered lawn edgers for creating new garden beds or for cleaning up the edges around your current garden beds. These powered edgers can also be used along the driveway or other pathways around your home.

Power edgers are more efficient than manual edgers, but this does not necessarily mean they are going to do a better job. Power lawn edgers are really good around straight areas such as places where a footpath will guide you. Power edgers are not the best around areas where the boundaries are not well defined. In areas such as this a manual edging tool can be a better choice if you have the time to use one.

While power edgers are quite powerful and will speed up the process of edging around your yard, there are still some areas of a yard that may require a manual edger in order to create the borders that you are looking for. Overall, both manual and power edgers are good choices. If you have a larger area that needs to be edged, a power edger is the right choice as doing all of the work manually is simply going to take up too much time.

How To Move With Your Lawn Edger

When you are using your power lawn edger it is important that you keep the tool straight and rigid. You will want to move your body, but not your arms. After you turn the edging tool on and give it some power, you want to walk slowly with the tool. Your arms should be held steady.

If you move your body instead of your arms you are going to see a cut that is much straighter.

If possible, you should walk along the footpath or the sidewalk as you are edging instead of on the grass. The reason for this is because when you are holding the edger out with your arms your body is going to naturally want to bring your arms closer to the body.

GreenWorks 27032 12 Amp Corded Edger

If you are standing on the lawn when this happens you are going to cut into the lawn instead of cutting off the farthest edge. After some time you will find that you are redefining the edge every time, going further into your yard, instead of using the same edging as your guide.

If you stand on the sidewalk or pathway while you are edging your body’s natural impulse to bring the arms in as you are moving will cause less damage because you are going to be edging air as your body is correcting its position.

Take Your Time

When you are edging it is important to take your time so that you do not have to keep going over the same areas. Power lawn edgers are powerful so it is tempting to quickly blaze through your yard while you are using one. Most often, this approach is going to provide you with poor results.

When you are using your power edging tool you will want to take your time. When you slow down and go over the area correctly the first time you will not have to keep going back to fix areas that you have missed in order to achieve a clean look. If you have to re-edge the same area over and over again you are going to end up with edging that looks sloppy.

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Conclusion

When it comes to landscaping areas around your home, creating proper edging is important. Edging provides your yard with definition and when done correctly can truly make your yard go from okay to spectacular.

While you can hire a landscaper to do your edging for you, doing it yourself is possible as well as long as you choose the right tools. A manual edger will give you a clean and polished look, but it will take a lot of time that you do not likely have. A good compromise is to purchase a gas or electric powered lawn edger to do the tough work and then go over certain areas with a manual edger.

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