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Edging a Lawn for Clean Cut

Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Outdoors June 4, 2013 Sonia


By Matt Weber

 

When it’s time to give your lawn its first summer haircut, be sure to keep the edges neat. Grass and weeds that grow next to driveways and sidewalks slowly begin to creep over the edges and encroach on the paved surface. A powered edger neatly cuts this organic material to leave a well-defined edge for a clean-cut lawn.

A powered lawn edger provides a dramatic step up in cutting power from a string trimmer, utilizing a rigid steel blade to cut through tough grass roots, thatch and soil. Although some string trimmers come with an “edging guide” for edging applications, the string is not as aggressive as an edging blade and must be used frequently to keep the cutting chore to a manageable level. String trimmers also are not designed as ergonomically for comfortable edging since edging is a secondary application, plus the string-line of a trimmer wears away quickly when contacting concrete. On the other hand, the vertical metal blade of an edger can cut several inches below the surface of the ground to rip through the roots of vegetation and trench a distinct separation between the lawn and hardscape features.

Edgers come in a variety of configurations; some with a single guide wheel, others with multiple wheels. The wheel rides along the edge of a sidewalk, patio, border or driveway as the offset blade cuts along the concrete or masonry. Some units start with a pull-cord, while others utilize a push-button electric start that eliminates the cord. Also, edgers are available with either electric or gas-powered motors.

For single-wheeled edgers, keep the top of the blade tilted away from the hardscape when cutting.

For single-wheeled edgers, keep the top of the blade tilted away from the hardscape when cutting.

The edger’s rigid, steel blade cuts through thatch, root and soil. Our demo model is the ergonomic and reliable Husqvarna 327ES Edger. The 7” blade provides a 2.68” depth of cut for slicing through root systems.

The edger’s rigid, steel blade cuts through thatch, root and soil. Our demo model is the ergonomic and reliable Husqvarna 327ES Edger. The 7” blade provides a 2.68” depth of cut for slicing through root systems.

The purpose-built design and ergonomic advantage of a dedicated edger make it a must-have tool for landscape professionals. Homeowners who are serious about lawn care will also appreciate the cutting advantage of a powered edger and the “manicured” look it achieves. The unit shown in this article is the Husqvarna 326ES, a reliable unit for both the pro and discerning DIY’er. Equipped with the company’s E-TECH II engine for power and fuel economy, the 326ES is lightweight, easy to use and quick to start. The front handle can quickly be adjusted using the thumb screw to suit the user’s height and posture.

When selecting an edger, try carrying it in various working positions to make sure you choose a unit that feels comfortable to operate. If possible, test the model’s start-up performance and cutting action at the dealership.

When using an edger, bring the blade to full speed before engaging the turf. You’ll get the best results by setting the blade’s cutting depth for a shallow pass when making your initial cut. Make progressively deeper cuts with successive passes until you’re satisfied with the grooming.

Be prepared to clean up the lawn debris. You may be surprised how much organic debris an unkempt lawn can accumulate when edging.

Be prepared to clean up the lawn debris. You may be surprised how much organic debris an unkempt lawn can accumulate when edging.

The overgrowth at the edge of this driveway was too thick for a string trimmer. Only an edger would do the job.

The overgrowth at the edge of this driveway was too thick for a string trimmer. Only an edger would do the job.

Tip: When operating a single-wheel edger, slightly tilt the cutting head so the top of the blade leans away from the hardscape. Doing so prevents damage to the upper, most visible edge of the concrete while the bottom of the blade guides the cutting action through the thatch and roots.