A well-groomed, head-turning lawn calls for more than just freshly mowed grass. Attention to detail goes a long way toward a lawn achieving a “great” look over a “good” look. Using an edger to clean up a lawn’s perimeter enhances its overall appeal and neatness, resulting in garden edges and footpaths with a crisp and clean appearance.
An edger is a different tool than a trimmer, although many modern units do feature interchangeable trimming and edging attachments. Whereas a trimmer’s cutting ability relies on a rapidly rotating string positioned at the end of a shaft, edgers typically use a rigid rotating blade to ensure a straight, uniform cut. Although a trimmer can be used for edging applications, the edges tend to look rather scruffy, whereas a dedicated edging blade is designed specifically to achieve a beautiful, immaculate appearance.
The first step to edging is thorough inspection of the area to be edged, removing all sticks, stones, wires or other foreign objects. Depending on the edger model, blade height may then need to be adjusted.
Operating an edger is very similar to operating a trimmer. Generally speaking, position the edger upright and perpendicular to the ground and, while the engine is running, pull the throttle trigger to activate blade rotation. Allow the edger blades to reach maximum speed before lowering the cutting head into the lawn. This may take a second or two but will help ensure you begin with a clean, smooth cut. With the blade at full speed, ease the cutting head downward. As the cutting action begins, push the unit slowly forward so the blade cuts as you walk forward. If the blade jams or stops in the ground, retract the blade and begin again.
If cutting on a concrete edge such as a sidewalk or driveway, rest the guide wheel of the cutting head on the hard edge of the surface you are cutting against. The guide wheel, a common feature of most dedicated edgers, helps guide the edger along the sidewalk, assisting with directional control. As the edger is pushed with a slow walk forward, cut a swath that lines the edge of the sidewalk. If grass growing over the concrete prevents seeing the edge of the sidewalk, tilt the edger slightly sideways so the blade tilts and kisses the concrete edge, acting as a guide.
While edging, many models tend to kick back dirt and grass. A great deal of this debris often hits the operator’s feet and ankles, so it’s advisable to wear some tough work boots while edging.
A variety of new edgers on the market offer a slew of new bells and whistles. Some manufacturers offer multiple-use units with the ability to operate as both trimmer and edger, or even other lawn tools. In the past, the drawbacks of some multi-use units have included increased tool weight and problems with balancing the edger perpendicular to the ground during use. If a lot of edging is to be done, it may be wise to invest in a single-use dedicated edger for easier handling.
Nevertheless, new edger designs hit the market every year featuring enhanced maneuverability, greater design efficiency and more. From the small end of the equipment spectrum to the heavy-duty end, today’s edgers come in many models to meet an array of needs.
American Gardener’s lightweight and compact YardStick cordless electric trimmer/edger offers 24 volts of rechargeable power. The unit comes with a wall-mount charge rack to re-juice between jobs, comfortable grips and an adjustable handle. As a trimmer the YardStick offers surprisingly effective cutting power for an electric tool, efficiently chopping away freestanding grass and weeds.
This two-in-one system’s edging action comes in the form of a tilted string-trimmer head that doubles as the unit’s plastic guide wheel. As an edger, the user twists the motor housing, which positions the cutting head perpendicular to the earth rather than horizontal for trimming. Place the guide wheel, which is constructed into the plastic spindle head of the trimmer, along the edge of a sidewalk and work the cutting string along the edge. For edging, this system’s use of a string rather than a rigid blade may not be the most clean-cutting method, but should suffice for small yards and garden needs. Unlike most edgers, the design of the YardStick requires the user to stand to the side of the edging path and move the unit along laterally, making directional control slightly more challenging than using a traditional, dedicated edger.
For more heavy-duty tasks, Little Wonder’s Xtra Edger offers a patented cross-blade system that rips through thick overgrown grass quickly and neatly. The Xtra Edger is powered by a two-stroke, air-cooled engine that requires a fuel mixture of gasoline and two-cycle oil. And the power from the engine is more than adequate; hold on tightly to the handles, because with a squeeze of the throttle the edger pulls forward eagerly. Little Wonder’s optional Crack Cleaner attachment also allows the edger to scrape clean cracks in concrete sidewalks.
Plus, the dual handles offer exceptional balance and maneuverability. Thanks to the weight of the edger being supported by the large guide wheel, and not the operator, the unit is easy to use with minimal fatigue. Equipped with a cover-mounted grass shield to reduce flyback of stones and dirt, the Xtra Edger is a solid choice for demanding edging work.
Homelite offers a new line of attachments for the company’s gas-powered, split-boom trimmers. The Expand-It line of attachments includes a blower, pruner, tiller, dual-line trimmer and edger (shown at top of article). Homelite designed the attachments for a “universal tool fit” so they can be used with most major gas-powered brands to convert a single-use trimmer into an outdoor tool.
Homelite’s Expand-It edger attachment can be used any time of the year to remove debris from sidewalks and driveways. The 9-inch steel edger attachment can also be used to dig shallow trenches for low-voltage lighting, invisible fences and around flowerbeds. The attachment features adjustable height and a rubber debris shield.
Husqvarna’s model 326Ex is a high-power, low-weight edger. The front handle can be adjusted quickly using a single wing nut. A wear plate beneath the engine and a reinforced spark-plug guard protect against impact and shocks. The large support wheel allows great cutting precision and access and can be quickly set to different edging depths. Other highlights include soft, comfortable handles, an air-purge device designed for easy starting, and a transparent fuel tank for checking the fuel level.
In addition to a line of high-capacity professional-grade edgers, Stihl offers the FC55 HomeScaper models designed specifically for homeowners. The lightweight FC55 features a heavy-duty skid plate and an adjustable-depth wheel. The primer bulb and starting throttle lock are designed for fast, reliable starts, and protective glasses are supplied with the edger.
Supplementing its edger line, Stihl offers the KombiSystem trimmers with a variety of lawn-care attachments for homeowners (KM 55) and professionals (KM 85). Available attachments include hedge trimmers, a pole saw, power scythe, cultivator and edger.
So the choices are out there. With a variety of sizes and options, there’s sure to be an edger to fit virtually any lawn-care need, big or small. And with the right tool and a little practice, these tools can achieve a just-manicured look on many a lush, green lawn.