Sleepers as lawn edging

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Edging a lawn Ideas – Tools & materials for getting the BEST

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Getting a good edging on your lawn is one of the most important parts of having a neat looking garden.

Don’t get me wrong, if you like the ruffled look so that the grass merges with the flower beds, then that’s fine. Although that’s not what this post is about.

In this article, I’m going to give you some ideas for edging tools, edging materials and how even how to trim the edge for best results.

At the end, I’ll also tell you which is MY preferred edging style in terms of value vs quality.

Different looks of edging – Higher or Lower Pros & Cons?

The first thing to do is make your choice. do you want your lawn to be –

  • Lower than the edging material
  • Or the same height as the edging material (with a drop) – I’ll explain

Personally, I prefer to be the edge of the grass to be the same height as the edging material with a vertical drop into the flower bed or stones. That way it’s really easy to cut and there’s a clear boundary between the flower beds and the grass.

However, let’s look at how these looks compare.

1. Having the lawn lower than the edging material

If you want to use a sleeper as the boundary, your lawn is probably going to go right up to it. Often there’s not much point in having a flower bed between the grass and a sleeper (as a raised flower bed).

This style can look really neat but it will definitely affect which tool is best for trimming the edge.

This layout is probably going to require you to use a trimmer because because it’s virtually impossible to get the lawn mower right up to the sleepers. Especially if you have a rotary mower.

Yeah, they all promote as being ‘cut to edge’ but in my experience that’s simply not true.

The other option is to use some flat bottom long handled shears – find out more about these below.

Sleepers as lawn edging

This picture shows sleepers going right up to the grass. the edge is much higher than the sward itself.

2. Having the lawn the same height as the edging material

This is definitely my preferred option. Basically you would install some sort of plastic or metal edging and bash it into the ground so that it’s exactly the same height as the grass. You might want to make the grass slightly higher in the middle so that water can run off.

If you have a stone path running alongside the lawn as opposed to a flower bed, then I’d highly recommend using something like this to separate the stones from the grass – avoid plastic of course if you want to be kind to the environment.

Not only will it create a clear separation between the path and the grass but it will also look great.

Edging tools Reviewed

Whatever you decide to do, you’re going to need some tools to keep everything neat and tidy

  1. Getting your edging shaped firstly
  2. keep your grass inside the boundaries of your shaped edge

Let’s take a look at the different options, including price options and usability.

Tools for creating the edging

Half Moon

It would be rude not to start with the half moon. The half moon is the classic edging tool used to create boundaries and shape it into the perfect sward. At around £It’s one of the cheapest tools you can buy and I recommend everyone with a lawn to have one of these.

Long Handled Axe

Every gardener needs an axe anyway but the reason I suggest buying one of these is because when you’re trying to build a nice lawn next to big trees, you’re highly likely to come across some roots. This is the point where you should axe through the roots that are high up at the point where the turf starts.

Rubber Mallet

If you’re installing an edging material. you’ll want to get your hands on a rubber mallet. These are really cheap and can be picked up for about £10.

Edge Maintenance Tools

Trimmer – Electric or battery powered

Grass trimmers are a superb way to take the grass off that’s growing out of the side of the lawn space. Personally, when I had an electric one I preferred to just use the long handled shears. Mainly because it was such a farce to untangle the cable, get it plugged in and run round the edges.

But, when I bought my battery powered trimmer to match my battery powered lawn mower it became super simple to just swap the batteries and I started using the trimmer loads more. That and the fact my shears had become slightly blunt anyway.

Long handled shears

These are a cheap easy way to get your hands on a trusty tool that will keep the edges tidy. I actually find it quite therapeutic to go round the edges quietly with an edging tool.

That is until it becomes too blunt to even cut the grass so you end up having to cut each part a few times before getting the finish you want.

Ultimately, a pair of long-handled shears is going to be your cheapest option for maintaing your lawn and if you have only a small area to do then it’s worth choosing these. You can pick a half-decent pair up for around £10.

Long handled flat shears

If you don’t have a trimmer for getting right next to the border, then some long handled flat shears will be beneficial. More so if you have the edging higher than the lawn and the mower cant trim right up to the edge – and trust me most can’t.

On the other hand, You could use a pair of normal shears but that means you need to get down on your hands and knees every time you want to do it.

Finishing Edging Materials

Of course, you have the option of just leaving things natural and not installing any edging material. However this setup can mean the grass ends up merging with the flower bed over time.

On the other hand, if you have a stone path next to the grass then you’ll definitely want to have a separation – partly to keep the stones at bay. There are few things more annoying than hearing stones get clattered by the mower.

So, let’s look at what the options are.

Installing Treated Softwood Sleepers as Lawn Edging

Sleepers are a very popular choice to border the lawn and can usually be bought in 1.8 metre or 2.4 metre-lengths. Often the grass is going to be lower than the sleeper so you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools to maintain these types of edges.

Note though, if you have a large lawn and you want to do all of it, then it’s not gonna be cheap. You’re looking at around £25-£30 for a 2.4m length. So, it might be best to do part of your edging with sleepers rather than going the whole way round.

Here’s a quick guide on how to install sleepers in your garden



Brickwork is a very popular choice for tidying up the boundaries. More often than not, it’s installed at the same height as the sward with a very fine gap between the grass and the brick or paving.

I highly recommend a trimmer as your maintenance tool of choice if you’re going down this root. That’s because it will give you a really neat line next to the paving and help stop it growing over the top of the bricks.

Installing Steel Lawn Edging

There are a couple of types of steel edging. Expensive or Cheap.

  • 1m length flexible pre-spiked steel edging – Not cheap
  • Rolled up 5m length steel – cheap

1m Length flexible steel edging

The expensive stuff usually comes in one metre lengths and has spikes that can be easily hammered into the ground. Core Edge is a good example of this type of product.

Approximate Price: £5 to £8 per metre

Effort to Install: Low-Medium

Handling: Easy

Rolled up steel edging

On the other hand, you could go for the rolled up galvanised steel. These come in 5m or 10m lengths though the 5m are way more popular and probably easier to handle.

Either way, galvanised steel looks neat and is more eco friendly than plastic. You can usually buy this in 5m or 10 metre lengths.

Approximate Price: £2p to £2.50p per metre

Effort to Install: Medium

Handling: Medium

Installing plastic edging

If I’m honest I don’t recommend using plastic, yes it’s cheap but there are much better options available

Approximate Price: £0.50p to £2.00p per metre

Effort to Install: Medium

Handling: Medium

My Number one choice for edging – Value vs Look

I’ve got a lot of edging – from sleepers to natural and even fence panels. But the one I find the best value for money is the rolled up galvanised steel.

It’s moderately easy to install, cheaper than most edging materials and comes in 5 metre lengths or 10 metre lengths. The cheapest one I found while writing this post is at Woodside Products

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