Landscape edging serves a variety of purposes in professional landscaping; for example, creating aesthetically pleasing boundaries between lawns, borders and hard landscaping, containing loose mulches and aggregates, stabilising hard landscaping and preventing lawn overgrowth onto borders, soil erosion or water run-off.
Landscape edging is also one of the more permanent features of landscape design. For this reason, whether it is to play a starring part or a supporting role in the overall design, the choice of landscape edging and its installation must give their best performance.
In this blog post, we will look at the various types of landscape edging and their pros and cons. We will also give tips on professional planning, adding the finishing touches and maintaining landscape edging for long-term good looks and performance. At the end, we will include some real-life case studies to give you inspiration for your future landscape edging projects.
Choosing the right landscape edging material
Landscape edging is now manufactured in a wide choice of materials, ranging from timber and plastic to concrete and stone, steel and aluminium. While appearance is often the primary consideration when designing a landscape, it’s also important to consider versatility, durability, long-term costs and environmental impact.
Timber Landscape Edging
Wooden landscape edging is the cheapest and easiest to install. Using readily available rough-sawn or pressure-treated timber, it requires little ground preparation and is easy to work with. Being made from a natural renewable source, it may also be regarded as an environmentally friendly option.
Untreated timber, however, will not last long when in constant contact with moist soil and organic mulches but care needs to be taken with treated timber: it can contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to plants and humans. Timber landscape edging will over time disintegrate and blend harmlessly into the soil. While this reduces its environmental impact, it also means it will need to be replaced regularly. In the long term, this cost-saving choice can become more expensive than other longer-lasting materials.
Plastic Landscape Edging
Plastic has become an increasingly popular material for landscape edging as it is cheap and comes in a wide choice of designs and colours. Being lightweight makes it easy to transport and install, and of course, it is waterproof and rot-resistant. However, plastic landscape edging also has its drawbacks. It is likely to be easily damaged by lawnmowers and other garden machinery, and long-term exposure to sunlight and the elements will cause it to fade and become brittle. Once it begins to deteriorate, it must be removed and disposed of to prevent soil contamination; it can neither be absorbed into the soil nor recycled.
Stone and Concrete Landscape Edging
Natural stone is an excellent material for landscape edging that needs to make a statement, while concrete provides a strong and durable edge that is particularly good for use alongside hard landscaping. Both types of landscape edging, however, require considerable site preparation if they are to be professionally installed. This includes excavating a trough, laying a solid foundation and haunching the edging with cement. While stone and concrete are both durable materials, being porous they will absorb and retain water. Because of this, they are likely to develop moss and lichen and are at higher risk of frost damage. Acids in concrete and cement haunching can also be damaging to plants and are the main cause of grass dieback when used to border lawns.
Steel and Aluminium Landscape Edging
Metal landscape edging offers professional landscapers a wide choice of products. It is also a more durable, almost zero-maintenance alternative to other edging materials. Natural mill-finish aluminium retains a highly corrosion-resistant appearance even in harsh environments. Untreated, galvanised and Corten weathering steel finishes all age gracefully, developing character as they acquire a natural patina. UV- resistant powder-coated finishes, several times stronger and more weather-resistant than paint, ensure an ‘as-new’ finish for many years.
In all but the most demanding applications, metal landscape edging can be installed with minimal site preparation, no special tools and no concrete haunching.
Metal landscape edging is also an environmentally responsible option. At the end of its life, it can be easily separated from other site waste and recycled, whereas concrete and stone can only be crushed and used as aggregate.
Landscape edging products from Kinley
As a leading UK designer and manufacturer of metal landscape edging, Kinley Systems has developed a range of products that encompasses every requirement the professional landscaper may encounter.
Manufactured from mill finish aluminium, AllEdge flexible landscape edging is the perfect product for defining and maintaining clean edges on lawns, borders, flower gardens and areas of loose aggregates, chippings or mulches.
Lightweight yet durable, AllEdge is easily sculpted to create flowing lines but will withstand lawnmowers and other garden machinery. It is naturally resistant to corrosion and weathering, so will retain its good looks for many years with little to no maintenance.
Manufactured from premium-grade steel, Borderline landscape edging delivers all that AllEdge offers and more. While its 3mm-thick steel construction is designed for higher traffic areas such as driveways and busy paths, it also has enough flexibility to add dramatic curves to a landscape design and can be used as a heavier-duty lawn edging.
Borderline is manufactured in two depths – 100mm and 150mm – and has a choice of finishes to suit many environments. Galvanised and untreated steel age gracefully, while anthracite grey and brown powder-coated finishes offer enhanced protection.
Elevating a planted border or flower bed above the level of a path or piazza will add dimension and definition to a landscape design. It’s also an effective way of preventing loose aggregates from spilling onto soft landscaping and containing soil and mulches.
Apex is an affordable and off-the-shelf alternative to bespoke low planter systems. Based on our flagship AluExcel aluminium edging, its 225 mm-high rigid profile is supplied in straight lengths and preformed corners, allowing seamless, professional-looking planters to be quickly and easily constructed. Its natural mill finish ensures it will retain its good looks for many years with minimal maintenance.
AluExcel is a top-performing landscape edging product, with flexible or rigid construction, eight edge depths and up to three standard surface finishes to choose from (special and bespoke finishes are also available). The flexible version can be formed by hand on location without special tools and installation is quick and simple.
AluExcel is also compatible with all types of hard landscaping, including blocks and pavers, asphalt and tarmac, imprinted and plain concrete, resin-bound and loose gravels, wetpour rubber and other safety surfaces.
A steel roll-topped edging for hard landscapes, Fortoffers a choice of five edge depths and three finishes – untreated, galvanised and Corten weathering steel. Like AluExcel, Fort is also available as rigid and flexible edging, allowing full freedom when designing any landscape that incorporates it.
The rolled top edge of Fort landscape edging reduces the risk of injury when used in pedestrian and soft landscaped areas, or tyre damage when used to edge driveways. It’s also compatible with a wide range of hard landscaping materials.
If you want something entirely bespoke for a heavy-duty hard landscaping project, Urban steel landscape edging is your go-to product. Available in 3mm and 6mm untreated, galvanised and Corten weathering steel (it can also be powder-coated to any custom colour), Urban is perfectly suited to high-end residential driveways, public realm and recreational areas.
Planning and design for landscape edging
Planning is important before starting a landscape edging project, either as part of an entirely new design or within an existing landscape. A good starting point for this process is defining the reason or reasons for incorporating landscape edging.
Why You May Choose to Add Landscape Edging
This may be an aesthetic choice. Visible landscape edging can add definition to the boundaries of lawns, borders and flowerbeds. The choice of materials and finishes available can accentuate the hard and soft elements of a landscape design by adding colours and textures that either complement or contrast with their surroundings.
It may also be a practical choice. Landscape edging can be used very effectively to stabilise soil, contain loose mulches and aggregates and prevent the overgrowth of lawns.
Landscape edging can also be a financial choice. While there is an initial outlay for its installation, landscape edging can substantially reduce the amount of time spent on landscape maintenance – lawns that maintain crisp edges without requiring the repeated attentions of an edging hoe, gravel paths that stay within their bounds and don’t need regularly raking back out of borders.Or it may be a combination of these reasons. Either way, they will help inform you as to the best type of landscape edging you should be using.
Sometimes the answer may lie in more than one type, and that’s where Kinley’s product range comes into its own. By providing a single source for all your metal landscape edging products, we can ensure that if you choose to apply a uniform surface finish across the entire project, this will be consistent throughout.
Design Considerations for Landscape Edging
The layout of landscape edging can also define the character of the overall design. Straight lines can be used to create the formality that is seen both in classical and contemporary landscape designs, while curves that mimic those found in nature bring organic fluidity and movement to the design. Curves are also an excellent way of adding a sense of space to a small, square plot.
Landscape edging can also be used to draw the eye towards focal points in the design – a specimen tree, a sculpture or a water feature, for example. To achieve this, the landscape edging should follow a smooth, seamless path towards its destination with no jarring joints or clumsy corners to detract from its purpose.
Kinley's flexible landscape edging is the perfect solution. It can be easily cut with a hacksaw or angle grinder and shaped by hand, while its interlocking system ensures all joints are smooth and seamless.
Choosing the Best Finish for Your Landscape Edging
The right finish for your landscape edging project will likely depend on two factors – appearance and performance – and both should be considered equally.
As we have already mentioned, the wide range of finishes available across the Kinley range means there is something for every style of landscape design. Mill-finish aluminium and galvanised steel will contribute towards a clean and contemporary style, while the earthy patina of Corten weathering steel works equally well in contemporary and traditional, urban and rustic environments.
Powder-coated steel matched to any RAL colour reference can be used to merge landscape edging into its surroundings or to give a vibrant pop of contrasting colour.
In most cases, all these finishes can be used without difficulty. Care should be taken, however, in harsher environments and particularly in coastal and maritime environments where the high salinity of the air can accelerate corrosion. In those instances, the excellent corrosion resistance of mill-finish aluminium or the added protection of powder coating should be considered.
It’s also helpful to be aware of the staining potential of Corten weathering steel. The patina this acquires over time is a natural process which creates an iron-rich runoff when it rains. This can easily stain stone and concrete products and will be particularly noticeable if these are pale, so we recommend a space is left between the edging and hard landscaping for rainwater to drain away and be absorbed into the soil.
Adding the finishing touches to landscape edging
Once landscape edging has been installed, hard landscaping is laid and soft landscaping areas are backfilled with soil. Lawn areas are either seeded or turfed and borders and flower beds are planted out. This may seem to mark the completion of the project, but a few simple details can add a professional finishing touch.
The original soil of a landscaping site is rarely of excellent quality and therefore may look a bit of an eyesore until plants have become well established. To avoid this, we recommend adding a layer of organic mulch.
Mulch serves several purposes: it helps to regulate the temperature and moisture of the soil, reduces soil erosion and compaction, blocks weed growth and slowly releases nutrients into the soil. It also instantly improves the appearance of a newly planted border or flower bed.
Maintaining Your Landscape Edging
All Kinley landscape edging products are designed to be low or zero-maintenance products, but there are a few steps you can take to keep it looking its best.
As metal edging is generally installed on compacted earth, some movement may occur as the soil settles or is worked. For a while after installation, periodic checks will establish whether the edging is becoming loose, and careful tamping of the soil immediately next to it should rectify this.
Exposed sides of landscape edging will also benefit from an occasional wash-down with a hose to remove any dirt or debris that might be clinging to it.
Powder-coated edging should also be periodically examined for damage, particularly if it is situated where garden machinery such as lawnmowers and strimmers are used. Scratches that have penetrated the powder coating to the metal can quickly deteriorate and should be repaired with touch-up paint.
Landscape edging case studies
Our website contains a wide range of real-life case studies that show the positive impact landscape edging can have on a project, but here are some of our favourites.
AluExcel aluminium edging was used to flank pathways on this 109-hectare housing development. AluExcel’s profile provided plentiful space for grass root growth and its absence of concrete haunching prevented grass dieback, resulting in healthier lawns.