There are plenty of garden edging ideas out there for every garden type. But which option is right for your garden? The type of edging you use can have a big impact on the overall look and feel in your garden. It can help you to establish an overall theme and atmosphere for your outside space.
Where to Use Garden Edging
- On the edges of beds and borders.
- On the fringes of a lawn.
- Up against a patio, or the side of your property.
Though largely ornamental, garden edging may also serve a practical purpose. It might prevent soil from spreading out from beds or growing areas. It might help with drainage or water retention. It might add thermal mass to keep an area frost-free. It might help to designate areas that are to be walked on and areas that are not. You might even use higher edging as seating in certain situations.
When choosing the edge for your garden, be sure to consider not only aesthetics, but also any other functions that it should serve. Think carefully about why, how and where it is to be used. It is important to remember that it should be practical as well as looking good. Think about whether the edge will work when you are mowing a lawn, or tending a vegetable patch. Will it be helpful, or will it somehow get in the way?
Good edging looks great and ties the theme of the garden together. It should work well with all the other elements in the garden. But at the end of the day, it should always be more about function than form.
Natural Landscape Garden Edging Ideas
A rustic garden should be all about basic, natural natural materials. Landscape edging in this sort of garden should blend in harmoniously with the plant life and the natural environment. Neatness and straight lines are less important than creating a rustic, wholesome, natural and eco-conscious feel. If this blends with your idea of the perfect garden, here are some you might like to consider:
Living Plant Garden Edging
Lavender works well for a natural look.
One idea that works very well in a relaxed garden is to create an edge effect for paths, lawns, beds or borders using green living plants. Plants that can work well include:
- thyme (or other perennial Mediterranean herbs)
- step-over apple trees or other fruit trees/ green shrubs
- box, or other low-level evergreen edge
Of course, there are plenty of other plants that can help to define the fringes of different zones in your garden. In a garden, remember, lines should be fluid and divisions should be blurred and relaxed.
Wooden Hurdle Garden Edge
Low, hurdle style designs can work well. Especially effective are short hurdle fences made using natural branches from the garden itself. These can be pretty and practical. For example, they can be used to protect your vegetable plot. Hazel wood is one common wood used to make edges of this type. But you can potentially use pruned branches from almost any tree already growing in your garden.
Willow and other wood whips can also be used to make a short woven fence that can work well as bed edges. Woven wicker can be more delicate than hurdle fencing, and yet is still natural enough to work well in a garden of this sort. Again, woven willow can work well to demarcate different growing areas for fruits and vegetables in your garden.
Logs laid simply on the ground can be perfectly sufficient.
If you have wood on your land, or can easily source logs nearby, these can work great. The simplest way to use them is simply to lay them flat along the edge of a path, bed or border. But you can also make higher edging using log sections placed upright in the ground and cut to various heights.
Another way to use logs is to cut them into short lengths and place them perpendicular to the edge you want to mark. Cordwood edging can be another beautiful edging idea to consider. Cordwood walls or fences can be low to the ground, or a little higher to create a more striking border.
You can also make your own low fence edge using reclaimed wood. From wood pallets to old furniture, from old pieces of constructional timber, to old railroad timbers or telegraph poles – there are plenty of old pieces of wood that could be used.
Natural Rock or Stone
Simple stone for a hugelkultur bed
Natural rock and stone also work very well in a natural garden. You can simply place a line of rocks or stones from your garden along the edge of a path, growing area or lawn. But you can also consider building a small dry-stone wall as rustic edging. Alternatively, you can create trench-style edging, and fill the trench with natural river rocks, various types of stone, or a beautiful selection of pebbles of various sizes.
Either coating a low rock wall, on its own, or formed into a cob or adobe with straw, clay is another wonderful material. Clay fits in well with a natural theme, and clay, cob and adobe are perfect for creating the organic shapes and curves that are often found in the edging in this type of garden.
Roofing slates placed on edge can create an edge for a bed or border. Alternatively, trench edge can be filled with smaller pieces of natural slate. A curving and sinuous edge lined with slate or with a slate-filled trench can come together very nicely.
Shells & Other Found Objects
A trench type edge could also be filled with shells, driftwood, pine cones or other found objects to create a beautiful vibe. Anything found in nature can find a place here.
Traditional, Homely Bed Landscape Garden Edging Ideas
If you have, or would like a more traditional and homely feeling garden, you will generally have more neat and orderly beds and borders, paths, paving and lawns. The rough and ready wildness of the natural world will be somewhat curtailed, bringing peace and order to your outside space. Some of the designs mentioned above might work well for this kind of garden too. But here are some more that you might want to consider:
Mini Picket Fence Bed
Perhaps the quintessential design for a traditional garden, a mini picket fence can certainly help to create a homely and traditional feel. Either natural wood, or painted white, this is a classic and quaint choice. It will work rather well with traditional, cottage garden planting schemes, for example.
Ornate Metal Fence Bed
A mini wrought iron fence could be another way to bring a little tradition into your garden. This also works well with traditional flower garden planting schemes with many flowers. Delicate, yet solid, this is a good option to delineate the line between your flowers / borders and paths or lawns.
You could bring a sense of the gymkhana, the seaside or the yacht to your garden with a low rope line strung around the ends of growing areas or along the sides of a path or patio. For a maritime feel, you could string shells, buoys or sea glass strands from this rope, to make it into a feature that really ties the garden together.
Flowers & Plant Pot
Another quaint and traditional-looking way to edge your flower beds and borders is with plant pots. You could choose to lay the terracotta plant pots on their edge for a continuous edge, or place them upright with pretty flowers in each of the flower pots.
Many reclaimed wood designs look rather more rustic. But cleaned up railway sleepers can be used for a more sedate and traditional look. This sort of bed edge can bring the warm tones of wood to your garden, but keep the neat, orderly, homely feel.
You can also use other wood to create neat bed edge. For example, a simple plank – lightly waxed or painted, laid against the edge of a patio or growing area can create a neat and traditional look. You could also create a short fence style edge using two planks placed horizontally one above the other.
Traditional Brick Garden Edging
Brick edge at Hidcote Manor Garden, UK.
A simple line of bricks can also be effective to create an edge in a traditional, quaint and homely garden. These can be positioned loosely, or mortared together to make a low stone wall to edge your paths. The bricks can be left bare, or painted white to fit into a traditional landscape design. You can also place bricks on an angle, inserted into a shallow trench, for a somewhat different effect.
Contemporary, Sleek Landscape
You might be a little tired of tradition, however, and looking for something more sleek and contemporary. It you want a streamlined and modern look, you are likely to have bolder planting and more straight edges, stronger colors and smoother finishes. Here are some that might appeal to you:
Sharp Edged Cob/Adobe
Cob and adobe are more commonly used to create organic shapes. But the material can also be used to create a much more modern look. You can also use cob or adobe to make edges with sharp, crisp edges. It can also be colored much more boldly, to create a vivid edging for contemporary planting schemes.
Sleek and Modern Wooden
Wood can also be used, raw or painted, to create a much more contemporary effect. In contemporary gardens, clean, neat lines can be created in much the same way as in a traditional garden. But you can also use wood to be more innovative and unusual. For example, you could create a dramatic effect by cutting planks down and placing them upright to create a short fence – perhaps even making the edge higher at one edge than the other, for a more contemporary feel. Painting wood in bright, rich colours, or a modern grey shade, for example, could also help to bring your garden up to date.
Natural rocks and stones generally create a more laid back feel. But cut stone can look much more sleek and contemporary. If you want that streamlined effect, edging using sharp-edged cut stone could be a good option for you.
Concrete can also be used in a contemporary garden – especially when it is smoothly rendered. Concrete blocks rendered with a sleek finish can help to create the sharp lines and angles that contrast so effectively with the looser planting style in many contemporary gardens. Painting these low edging walls can also help to make your garden more modern.
Inlaid Brick Edging
Another way to create a sleek and contemporary look is to do away with raised beds altogether and create inlaid edging instead. A line of bricks, for example, inlaid level with the ground between lawn edging and border could help give the right look and feel.
Inlaid Tile Edging
You could also inlay tiles along the edge between different parts, or along the sides of a path, to create a contemporary feel. You could use stone, slate or ceramic tiles to create subtly different effects. All can look good in a sleek, modern garden.
Another way to bring your garden up to date is to consider adding lighting. There are a range of different ways to incorporate LED lighting along the edges or paths or patios. These lights can help to make your garden feel part of the modern age, but they can also be functional – making it easier for you to enjoy your outside space when light levels fall.
Industrial Edging Ideas
Another popular style for modern gardens is the industrial look. The right designs can really help you to bring an element of the industrial. An industrial style garden will generally introduce elements of the industrial world for interesting juxtapositions between the natural and the man-made. Here are some industrial edging ideas that you might like to consider:
Cor-Ten Steel Edging
Cor-ten steel can be used for edging your garden between lawn grass and growing areas. It can be used to create straight lines, or something more flowing and sinuous. It can look great next to soft grass and other delicate grass planting.
Reclaimed Metal Pipe
You can also use reclaimed metal pipes to make an edge in a number of different ways. Copper piping looks particularly beautiful against deep, rich green foliage.
Metal Wheel Rim
You could also consider using half metal wheel rims buried in the soil to create an interesting bed edge with a somewhat industrial feel. Again, the metal will contract nicely with the natural plant life and set up an interesting contrast.
Ceramic pipes can evoke industrial chimney stacks when placed upright along an edge. Yet this industrial effect can be tempered by adding light and frothy planting in each of the sections of pipe. Again, a great combination of natural and man-made.
Hard edged, rough and uncompromising, concrete can work well as a feature in an industrial type setting. For example, you could simply lay a series of concrete blocks or breeze-blocks along the edge. Or create a cast concrete edge, either protruding or laid into the ground.
Gabion Bench Bed
Metal gabions (filled with rocks and stones, or other materials) and topped with a comfortable seating surface like wood can also work well in an industrial style setting. Creating gabions in various shapes and sizes can help to add structure to the outside space.
Pebbles for a trench.
A trench-style edging filled with sharp pebbles can also work well in an industrial style setting. For something a little different, you could also consider using pebbles of glass in various different colours to have a departure from the natural.
You could also consider edging a zone with old tyres. Tyre sections can be placed on edge, buried in the soil, for a looping effect. You can also use old tyres filled with soil to create a wider edging, that could also be planted up with living plants.
A trench type edging does not necessarily have to be filled to ground level. You could also consider creating a feature with flowing water. For an industrial feel, the channel should be regimented, with straight lines and harder edges. It may even serve a functional purpose, for channelling water in your garden.
As in other contemporary gardens, industrial gardens can also work well with outdoors illumination. Consider edging with up-lights, for example, which illuminate certain edgy, industrial features nearby.
Quirky, Unusual Designs
The above are amongst the most popular types of garden. But what if you do not want one that is like anyone else’s? One of the great things about a garden is that you can use it to really reflect your own personality and tastes. The plants you choose are the most important thing. But edging will also help to get your personality across. Here are some more quirky and unusual designs that could help yours stand out from the crowd:
Glass Bottle Edging
Upcycling glass bottles can create some marvellous effects. Simply stand beer or wine bottles of whatever colour with their necks in the soil along the edges between the different elements of your garden. (With lids on to stop slugs and bugs from making their way up inside.) You could even place LED lights in the bottles to create illuminated light effects.
Another way to edge your garden beds and borders in a quirky garden is with old plates. Choose a range of different ceramic plates from a charity shop or junk yard and have fun creating your unique effect as you arrange them upright in the soil along the edge of the growing area.
If you love to have a riot of colour in your garden (and like recycling and reusing too) then you could also consider making inset edging by embedding a mosaic strip along your paths or on the edges of a bed, border or patio. You could make a mosaic with a range of different materials – from broken ceramic tiles, to broken mirror, to brightly coloured bits of plastic edging.
The possibilities mentioned above should give you plenty of inspiration when it comes to garden edging ideas. But of course, these are just some of the ingenious ways in which you could separate and give distinction to the various sections of and elements in your garden.
Elizabeth Waddington is a smallholder, permaculture designer and environmental consultant. When not designing food producing systems or advising growers around the world, she is to be found in her own garden. On her 1/3 of an acre patch of land she has a walled forest garden orchard (home to rescue chickens), a polyculture vegetable plot, a polytunnel, wildlife pond, wild woodland garden and more and is working every day towards greater self-sufficiency. She is passionate about sustainability and loves to inspire others about the wonderful things home gardeners can do for people and planet.