Six words deflated me like a bindii in a bike tyre: ‘why don’t you do the edges?’ My lawn was looking terrific, but my edges were as fuzzy as riding in the rain wearing glasses. I can’t recall my answer to the question, but a star-wheeled edger soon found a home next to my bike in the shed and lifted my lawn to the next level.
The star-wheeled edger is a manual type, while others are powered. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll discuss to sharpen your edger knowledge and your edges.
Manual edgers are available in four types – hand shears, spades, half-moon edgers and rollers. They best suit smaller areas because they rely on your physical effort. Top tip: use them when the ground is damp! The advantages these edgers provide is they don’t release emissions, they’re low cost, require virtually no maintenance, and they’re easily stored.
Powered edgers have a blade that cuts through the edge. The blade height is often adjustable so that you can cut just above ground or to several centimetres below ground. These are great for larger areas and long stretches of edging.
Petrol models can have single or multiple wheels; the multiple wheeled types are the most stable.
These edgers can also go around trees or garden beds. There are variations among manufacturers, so you need to read the instructions related to the specific model.
The disadvantages of these are they are relatively noisy, they may need replacement parts (e.g. blades), they take up greater storage space, and they release emissions. Having said this, they will provide a nice straight deep edge that will look great and the more you practice the straighter and cleaner the edge will look.
Electric edgers are cord or battery powered and lighter than petrol models. They are quieter than petrol models, though they don’t have as much power. The benefit of these over the petrol models is there are no emissions and they’re a bit smaller, allowing easier storage.
Whipper snippers or trimmers aren’t dedicated edging devices; however, they’re often used for this purpose. A rotating flexible nylon line cuts grass, weeds and small unwanted plants. On some models you can rotate the heads so they’re in a vertical position for edging.
Whipper snippers come in several versions: straight shaft or curved shaft with 2- or 4- stroke petrol motors or battery-operated models. They’re especially good for working at an angle.
The main types are corded, battery and petrol-powered trimmers. Petrol trimmers have more power and are much better for larger areas. Trimmers with cords will probably require an extension lead, so are only useful for small areas. They also aren’t as powerful.
If your lawn looks a bit scraggly around the edges, the overall appearance of your lawn is definitely diminished. Most people tend not to have a dedicated lawn edger, so if you are using a Whipper snipper/weed whacker/line trimmer or whatever it is you call it, it is important that you know how to use it to get the best results.
Speed – Your trimmer will work best when at full speed. So, keeping your trimmer line away from the edge and working your way in, is key to maintaining speed. Avoid starting the line trimmer already in the grass you’re cutting for the quickest, cleanest cuts. It’s the tip of the line that is cutting, so keeping the majority of the line clear will result in a cleaner cut.
Spin direction – Depending on which way your trimmer spins, you need to make sure you are cutting with one side and the material is being ejected to the opposite side. So, if your trimmer spins counter clockwise, you need to keep the right side closer to the edge so that material is being ejected away from it. This will keep the cutting path clear and allow you to achieve a much better result.
Edging and tapering – Edging will be important for driveways and paths where you are after a clean edge to something parallel. This is where you hold the edge of the trimmer so that the string is vertical. This will provide a crisp cut line where you want the grass to end. Tapering is used for fences and retaining walls where you hold the edge of the trimmer so that the string is at a slight angle. This will ensure you don’t scalp a full run of grass by trimming parallel and get a nice gradual blend between the object and the grass.
Regular trims – The best edges are ones that are kept on top of and not allowed to get out of control. So, the more you do it, the more likely your edges will stay uniform and the easier they will be to tidy up, and the better you will get at it.
Each edger has its place, depending on the size of your yard and your needs. You may need a couple of types to get the look you want and get the edge on your neighbours!
Now you’re a little clearer on the edger(s) you need, get on your bike and get the one you like – chances are you’ll get a few more ‘likes’ for your lawn.
Remember, edgers are just one type of lawn care tool you need to maintain your yard. Head to this blog post for more great information on other tools.