Do It Yourself Design: Metal Landscape Edging Ideas And How To

Learn the basics of metal landscape edging and how to use and install it in your landscape.

Metal landscape edging is made of steel or aluminum. It is a flexible material that adapts to curves, angles, corners, or straight lines. It is typically used to create a clean, neat edge between a lawn and planting bed or between a driveway and the lawn. Because it is installed below grade, metal edging is a purely functional design element, as opposed to a decorative one. Unlike brick, wood ties, or cobblestone edging materials that form an edge above ground, metal edging poses no problems for mowers and other maintenance equipment. In fact, using metal edging makes maintaining your property easier.

Metal edging is typically sold in 10-foot lengths and 4" high and there are special clips that connect the sections of edging together. Metal stakes, which fit into pockets on one side of the section, are used to hold the edging firmly in the ground. Most homeowners use a residential grade edging, which is either 14 gauge or 12 gauge, slightly less than 1/8" thick. For heavy-duty residential or commercial applications 1/8" edging is recommended.

Steel edging is rigid, strong, and durable and was the first type of metal edging to be used in landscaping. Steel edging is generally used for separating hardscape elements such as driveways or concrete patios from softscape elements such as lawns. Steel edging may be affected by frost heaves and unless galvanized steel is used, is also susceptible to rust. Steel edging is available in a green, black, or brown finish or galvanized steel finish.

Aluminum edging is an alternative to steel. It is easier to work with and more flexible, adapting well to the free form designs typical of many planting beds. Because of this, it is most often used between softscape elements such as lawns, planting beds, and shrub borders. It is available in several colors, including natural silver color and anodized black. Aluminum edging doesn't rust, making it ideal for oceanfront properties that are exposed to salt spray.


Basic instructions for installing metal edging are outlined below. Typically a landscape contractor will install metal edging, but it is not a difficult project to tackle your self.

1. For 4" metal edging, dig a small trench to a depth of 5".

2. Set the metal edging in the trench (the top edge is slightly rounded).

3. If the edging is to be used with a curving design form, the sections should be connected ahead of time to make installation easier. If the edging is to be used for straight lines, then the sections can be put together as you go along.

4. The edging is held in place by aluminum or steel stakes (usually 12" or 15" long). There are usually 4 stakes per 10-foot section. Start at the beginning of the planting bed, patio, or driveway and insert the stakes into the pockets located along the length of the edging. Pound the stakes into the ground. Make sure that the stakes are on the planting bed side of the edging.

5. To cut the edging use a hacksaw. To form an angle, cut halfway up the width of edging and fold up to make a corner.

6. Compact the subsoil on either side of the edging, then place topsoil over it until the desired finish grade is reached. The edging should be about 1/2 to 3/4" above finish grade.

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