How to Edge a Lawn in 7 Simple Steps

Close-up of edged grass and walking path

Mowing your lawn but skipping out on the edging is like throwing your dirty clothes in the washer and forgetting the detergent. It’s just not a clean look. 

Edging your lawn accentuates your favorite landscape features — your natural stone walkway, flower beds, or brick pavers. And you don’t need to be a lawn care professional to get the job done right. 

Take a drive to your local improvement store, choose between a motorized or manual edger, and you can be edging your lawn today. 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to turn an average landscape into a crisp, manicured lawn with these seven easy-to-follow edging steps. 

What is a Lawn Edger?

A lawn edger is a tool used to form clear boundaries between a turf lawn (or other botanical ground covers) and another surface, such as a paved pathway, stepping stones, garden bed, or the sidewalks near the edges of your lawn.

A lawn edger is either manual or motorized and typically cuts straight into the ground to create the distinct, trench-like boundary between the two surfaces. 

Motorized edgers

Motorized edgers are either electric or gasoline-powered. Motorized edgers are excellent for edging straight lines, right angles, and large perimeters. Motorized edgers easily cut through heavy grass and weed buildup. 

Electric edgers are either battery-operated and cordless or need to be plugged into an outlet. They’re typically lightweight and work well for small yards. 

There are three types of motorized edgers: 

  • String trimmers
  • Multi-wheel designs
  • Single wheel designs

Manual edgers

Manual edgers are sought after for their simple designs and easy handling. Using a manual edger may take a bit more effort on your part since they don’t run on gasoline or electricity. They’re excellent for those hard-to-reach places or to edge around a curved surface that requires a bit more control. 

Manual edgers for landscaping often work similarly to a small shovel. You’ll need to dig the half-moon blade into the ground to remove the overgrown grass. A manual edger also can feature a spiked roller wheel attached to a handle. Push the edger along the path, and the spiked roller wheel digs the boundary trench. 

These manual tools are durable and rarely need replacement. With a motorized edger, you may find it’s prone to a damaged engine or attachments that need regular maintenance. Manual edgers are typically less expensive than motorized lawn edgers. 

There are three types of manual edgers: 

  • Spade-based
  • Hand shears
  • Roller-based

How to Edge a Lawn in 7 Simple Steps

1. Mow your lawn

Mowing the lawn before you edge helps to reduce the grass and weeds around the areas you’ll soon be edging. A freshly cut lawn also will add to the polished look. 

Don’t hesitate to get out the edge trimmer or weed wacker -– these tools will help shorten the grass in hard-to-reach places, making lawn edging much more manageable. 

2. Plan your landscape edging

Using a garden hose or rope, give yourself an edging guide. A guide can be especially helpful if you’re using a manual edger and need assistance with keeping a straight line or going around a curve. 

Note that you will be edging in between the surface (such as a pathway) and the guide. Give yourself plenty of room between the surface and the guide for a distinct boundary trench. 

If you feel you can maintain proper control over your edger and prefer not to give yourself a guide, skip this step. 

Pro Tip: Avoid using spray paint to plan your edging. You may miss your target, or the wind may blow it off course. 

3. Begin edging your lawn

When edging your lawn, it’s essential to maintain control of your tool. Assume a solid stance that allows you to slowly walk forward while also maintaining firm control over the edger. You may need to engage your core. If you go too fast, you may lose control and ruin your clean edges.  

If you’re edging a straight line, it’s best to begin from one end and work your way to the other. Edging from Point A to Point B will help ensure clean lines. If you’re working with a curved edge, find a starting point that works best for you. You can always start from the middle and work your way to one end, return to the middle, and edge toward the other end.  

If it’s your first time using an edger, we recommend beginning in the backyard. If you make a mistake here or there, no one will know. Once you feel confident in your edging, then move on to the front yard. 

4. Pause and observe your work

As you edge your lawn, stop and take a look at your work. Step back to see how your path is looking. A different view can help you spot any mistakes, such as slanted lines or wobbly curves. Make any corrections you need to make, and then resume edging. 

5. Store your tools

Now that you’ve edged your lawn, store your tools properly. Leave your edging tools and lawn mower out in the yard and you risk needing to replace them. Refer to your edging tool’s instruction manual for proper storage.

6. Clean up your yard

To ensure your yard looks ready to welcome the neighbors or family, use a leaf blower or broom to remove grass clippings and dirt from the pavement. Either leave the grass clippings on your lawn, gather them for your compost pile, or use them as mulch

7. Enjoy your newly-edged curb appeal

Your tools are stored, your lawn is clean, now all you have left to do is admire your fresh looking yard. Aren’t you glad you didn’t skip out on landscape edging?

The Importance of Landscape Edging

You wouldn’t make a good impression at an interview with a stain on your blazer, and neither will your landscape if the grass is creeping over your front walkway. 

For the best lawn, you can’t not edge. Edging tools are a must for any homeowner who wishes for their property to impress.  

Edgers are easy to use, too. Remember, you don’t need to be a professional landscape edger to get the front lawn of your dreams. 

When to Call a Professional

While you can edge a lawn in seven simple DIY steps, sometimes you’ve got to call in the professionals. Call a professional landscaper near you if you’re edging hard-to-reach places, your yard’s perimeter is too large, or you want extra time with the family.

Even when we can do the yard work ourselves, hiring help can make all the difference. 

Main image credit: Andy nunn / CC BY 2.0

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.