Lawn edges and edging, tying in and support for plants

First published by Rattan Direct on 6 May 2016.

Lawn edges and edging

You could write a book about lawns. Regretfully, we simply don’t have the number of words here to explore the velvety green acres and problem patches of lawn care. What we can do, though, is recommend a quick and effective way of making your lawn look the best it can.

Cut to the chase – keep the lawn’s edges in order! Make them clear and definite. If it’s lawn, it’s lawn. If it’s not, it’s not. If a lawn has well-defined edges it’s much harder for it to sprawl into the borders or try to take over the path.

A garden path and lawn edged with shrubs and trees at The Gibberd Garden, in the Harlow District of Essex, England. Lawn edges
A garden path and lawn edged with shrubs and trees at The Gibberd Garden, in the Harlow District of Essex, England by Acabashi (Wikimedia Commons).
Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Some people swear by the sharp half-moon cutter. (I am resisting the temptation to make a joke or two here as I do realise that lawns are a deadly serious topic.) Use this edging tool against a plank of wood to recut a straight edge, and along a rope or hosepipe for a curve. A spade will also do the job, but less neatly.

There are always blades of grass the mower didn’t reach. To keep your new edges looking smart, trim them with long-handled edging shears after mowing. Or you could strim.

When paths have been invaded by grass (and, yes, this happens) a sharp knife is the best tool to cut away the turf.

Is this sounding like too many tools and too much work for the time you have available? Consider installing metal or timber edging to keep the lawn in its place. Newer types of rubber edging have a mowing strip that allows you to cut right up to the edge of the lawn.

Support and encouragement

Plants are growing strongly now and their stems are beautifully soft and pliable.

Support for tulips and peonies at Montacute House, Somerset. Lawn edges
Support for tulips and peonies at Montacute House, Somerset (M K Stone)

Climbers, ramblers and tall perennials will just keep on going so they should be tied in to give them support as they shoot upwards. You’ll probably have to tie them in more than once. Have a look every week.

The soft stems will bruise easily, creating a potential site for damage and disease. Avoid bruising when you’re tying in by using soft string or garden twine. Loop it twice around the support and once around the plant, tying with a knot. (A reef knot will hold securely and won’t slip. It’s right over left, left over right, in case you’ve forgotten.)

Trained shrubs and fruit bushes should be tied in to give them encouragement. Select the strongest young canes of summer-fruiting raspberries, around six to eight per plant, and tie them in 8 –10cm apart along the wire supports.

What other support can you give? Use prunings to provide support for plants like tulips and peonies.

Support for phlox using prunings, Somerset. Lawn edges
Support for phlox using prunings, Somerset (S Buchanan)

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