If you have moved from an apartment to a house with a yard then you may be overwhelmed with how much work can be involved in taking care of your new yard. Your first few attempts at lawn care will be a large learning experience and may result in your lawn looking like a mess as a result of your inexperience.
You’ll need to consider the size of your lawn in the tools you buy and the approach you take when edging the lawn.
Tools fall into four main categories. These are: fuel driven motorized tools, mains electric tools using a power cord for power, motorized tools powered by rechargeable batteries, and manual tools powered by you.
For large lawns fuel powered tools are really the only option. For smaller lawns electric and manual tools may be worth considering. Think carefully before choosing which type of tool to buy, as a bad choice could result in the tools costing you time and stress.
Mowing the lawn can be a fairly straight-forward process but edging the lawn can easily go wrong in a variety of ways. If you want to learn how to edge a lawn like a pro then here’s some tips on how to do that.
Types of Edging Tools
Using gas or electric lawn edging tools
Powered trimmers have several names
- weed whackers,
- brush cutters
To properly edge a lawn there are two tools you will want to use.
One is the edger itself and the other is a lawn trimmer (also known as a trimmer).
- The edger cuts the lawn edge with a small spinning metal blade
while the trimmer uses spinning plastic cord to trim any scraggly bits of grass that the mower and edger didn’t get.
- The trimmer can be used to both edge and trim the lawn. It can also be used to mow small odd-shaped sections of lawn that the mower can’t reach, and it can trim along fences and around objects such as tap stands and birdbaths.
If you are on a budget or don’t have the time or space for both of these tools then just get a trimmer or use a manual edger (see below).
Use the edger for the Spring, Summer and Fall main cuts. The edger is a great tool for “setting the line” and removing the overgrowth that grew in the late fall and early Spring. I normally use the edger 4 times per year to keep my lines crisp and clean.
- Plug it in. Use the sidewalk, curb or driveway edge as the guide.
- Do a test cut 12″ long. This will help you guage how deep the line is and if it needs to be adjsted.
- Adjust if necessary.
2. Start edging (use quarterly)
It will take a little time to do a good job. You may have to remove small rocks, but, for the most part, it will be easy.
- Remove the cut grass away from the cut.
- Dispose of it in a 5 gallon bucket or wheelbarrow.
3. Trimmer (use weekly)
After edging, follow up with trimming. Use the 2nd tool (trimmer) to follow the edger. This takes care of anything the edger missed during the 1st cut in the Spring.
For the remainder of the Spring you should be able to just use the trimmer to keep the lines clean.
Hold at the right angle. You may have to flip your trimmer over to get the vertical line that you are looking for. Many trimmers have a button that allows you to switch the angle of the cutting head.
Pro Tip: Get a combo set and save $$$.
Greenworks G-MAX 40V Cordless String Trimmer and Leaf Blower Combo Pack, 2.0Ah Battery and Charger Included STBA40B210
4. Cut straight.
When edging the vertical edge of your lawn with an edger or trimmer try to keep the cut as straight as possible. This takes practice especially around curves.
- Use the concrete or brick as a guide when edging along a pavement.
- Start slow so your line is straight and then speed up your pace as you get the hang of it.
- When edging a garden bed keep an eye on the line of the edge. For straight lines use the end of the edge as a sight guide and keep your movement steady and straight by using small careful steps. For curved edges use a smooth, careful, and consistent movement as you move with the curve of the edge.
Avoid abrupt movements that can throw off the line of the cut and be careful to avoid over-correcting the cut.
5. Quality check
- Take a look back at where you have already cut and see if the cut is straight or if it cuts too much into the grass. If you feel that the cut has gone astray then you may want to move back to where the problem started and start again to get a better cut if that is advisable.
What if you messed up? If you’ve cut too far into an area and this throws of the shape of the lawn edge then you may need to just let the lawn grow out over time to fill the problem section.
- The main thing is to take your time and make careful and smooth movements when adjusting the movement of the edger or trimmer.
To trim a curved lawn edge with a trimmer use a smooth rolling motion with the trimmer head as you carefully walk forwards along the edge. Keep the trimmer line flat with the lawn so that it doesn’t dig into the dirt. For an angled edge keep the trimmer line flat with the angle you want and move the trimmer head in a careful sawing motion flat with the angle of the edge.
Something to consider when edging your lawn is whether you want to edge the lawn before or after mowing it. This can depend on the condition of the lawn and the layout of the yard. If the lawn has been let go then you will need to mow it first as trying to edge and trim a lawn with long grass can be difficult and messy. If the lawn has been kept under control then you may want to mow it after you edge it as this will pick up the grass that the edger and trimmer throw onto the lawn.
6. Using manual lawn edgers.
How to edge your lawn with a manual edger or a shovel.
If you can’t afford a motorized edger or don’t have the storage space then a manual edger may be a better option. These are also handy if you only have a small lawn edge to worry about where a motorized edger would be overkill.
Manual Edger (spade or flat shovel)
- You can buy a manual edger from outdoor hardware and lawn care stores.
- You can also use a straight-edge shovel or spade for edging your lawn.
- A shovel won’t do as good a job or be as convenient to use, but it has the advantage that you can use it for other purposes, such as tending your garden.
- To edge your lawn with a shovel you need a wide shovel or spade with a straight edge and as straight a blade as possible.
- You may need different approaches depending on the lawn edge and what it butts up against, but normally you will be working the shovel from the side and using a rocking motion to cut the grass like a paper cutter guillotine while pushing down on the top of the near side of the shovel with your foot.
- For dedicated manual lawn edgers you can get a type of edger that works similarly to a shovel. These usually have a medium length handle with a curved blade at the end and a flat section on top of the blade that is there for your foot to press down on.
- Use a rocking motion to cut the lawn with your foot applying pressure to the top of the edger.
7. Blower for cleanup
If you are using a blower to clean up after edging and mowing then you can simply blow that grass back onto the pavement or garden bed, but the loose grass will often catch against the lawn making the job difficult and blowing it along the pavement to wherever you want it to end up will often deposit it back onto the lawn.
The best approach is often to edge and trim the lawn, blow or sweep the grass from the pavement onto the lawn, and then mow the lawn and pick up the loose grass in the process. Try different approaches and see what gives you the best result. Bear in mind that you may need different approaches for different sections of lawn and lawn edge.
You may also want to consider getting a blower as this can make the cleanup process much quicker and easier. Blowers can also be handy for cleaning gutters, patios, etc.
The most common type of dedicated manual lawn edger has a sharp-edged rotating disc on the end of a long handle.
To manually trim the edge you can get metal shears or clippers that often look similar to the shears once used when shearing sheep. You can also find manual trimmers that look like hedge trimmers and work somewhat similarly. These tend to be awkward and slow to use, but may still be a good choice if you only have a tiny lawn to manage.
Pro Tip: Edge your lawn every other mow for a constant clean look throughout the year! The more you do it the better it will look.
Each lawn is different and requires a different approach to mowing, edging, and trimming it. Knowing how to edge a lawn like a pro is all about taking a slow and careful approach while you learn the best way to make use of the edging tools you have available on your particular lawn. Try different approaches and see what gives you the best result and the best looking lawn