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Grounds for Improvement: Updating and Maintaining Crisp, Professional Landscapes Edging  July 26, 2007

The landscaping is the most visible and noticeable feature of a hotel, park, resort, university, corporate office or any other institution. Maintaining beautiful, functional landscapes requires knowledge, preparation and hard work. And, helping these landscapes withstand the test of time requires the use of appropriate edgings.

What do grounds managers look for when using landscape edging? Ease of installation and replacement plus low maintenance. What applications are most suitable to different materials and visual appearance are all key factors. A grounds manager wants to find products that will rate high in all these categories. Through this comprehensive article, we hope to shed some light on what are the best edging products for your grounds.

Why use edging?

Edging permanently defines the grounds so that continual reshaping of the landscape beds is virtually eliminated. Significant savings in maintenance expenses will be achieved as landscape edging eliminates the continual spading of the bed edge by hand or using power edgers. A landscape is truly defined by proper separation of lawn, flowerbeds and aggregates and edging will achieve those goals. When various aggregates are used in a contained area, edging is the only way to assure a permanent separation. Many types of edgings are available.

Steel Edging

Steel edging offers the landscape design a permanent solution to edge control. With a variety of thicknesses to choose from, steel edging gives you strength to stand up to even the most demanding high traffic areas.

Steel edging will not become brittle or decay compared to wood or plastic edgings; Is extremely durable and not easily damaged by maintenance equipment; Stays in the ground due to itís substantial weight; Is permanent and maintenance free.

The limitations of steel edging is that it rusts (Some professionals prefer the rusted material for a more natural look); corrodes slightly over time and does not bend or cut easily.

There are only a couple thicknesses that are appropriate and durable enough for most institutional projects. The 3/16-inch and the 1/4-inch thick steel edgings are recommended for high traffic areas, which are usually the norm with larger grounds.

ďEdging blends architectural details with the landscape beds, building a properly designed and balanced landscape.Ē

Aluminum Edging

Aluminum is strong enough to withstand years of maintenance abuse; is light weight, forms easily and can be cut to length with minimal effort; will never rust, crack, rot or become brittle and has excellent corrosion resistance and high thermal conductivity; is environmentally friendly, non-toxic & often made from recycled material; is less expensive than most other materials in the long run; allows for smooth curves and yet straight lines can also be achieved with minimal effort.

The limitations of aluminum edging are that itís not as strong as steel. Especially for areas with vehicle traffic, aluminum will not be able to withstand the pressure. Straight runs may be more difficult. Aluminum, although durable, can be harder to keep straight when installing than steel, but is definitely far from impossible.

Poly Based Edging

Lightweight poly based border materials can be quite aesthetic, reasonably priced and fairly easy to install. Make sure you use expensive, commercial grade edging and it can last for decades. Staking and bed prep are key factors in the proper installation of these border products.

Formed Concrete Edging

Pre-formed concrete edging gives a very finished look to a landscape. Though typically the most expensive, it is the most long lasting of the choices.

Paver Edging

When using paver edging, you should mortar the pavers together to form a more solid barrier against both encroaching turf and spill over from planting beds. Interlocking pavers, which require no mortar to get a tight fit, are also available.

Wood Edging

Many kinds of wood edging are available and include ready made sections in various lengths made of redwood, cypress and cedar, to landscape timbers and railroad ties. Landscape timbers and railroad ties are durable and inexpensive, but they are very heavy to move. Use older ties because the creosote preservative can leach into the soil and contaminate the plants.

Time for a change

So, if you already are using landscape edgings, you have made a good choice. If not, perhaps itís time to upgrade The end result will give your grounds crisp, clean lines that will accentuate your facility and, with proper up-keep, last for a life time.

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