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How to Edge Lawns and Flower Beds With a Dinner Knife

Updated on April 8, 2016
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Eugene is an avid gardener and has been passionate about growing things for nearly 40 years. He also has a keen interest in DIY.


How to Edge a Flower Bed

If you have flower beds or borders in a lawn, you know how the grass at the edges can become ragged and unsightly over time. Edging the border between bed and lawn will help to visually define the boundary, adding to its aesthetic appeal. This guide shows you step by step how to edge beds with a knife in a way which allows easy maintenance in the future.


Tools Required

  • Sharp edged knife
  • Garden hand trowel or spade
  • Optionally a hose or marking paint

First you need to mark out the perimeter of the bed

A flexible garden hose is ideal for this or you can use a can of marking paint, available from any hardware store. If you have a good eye, you can dispense with the hose or paint and work freehand. Lay out the hose on the lawn and adjust it to to the desired contour for the bed.

A spade, edging tool or sharp knife can be used

A spade can be used for cutting through the sod and edging the bed, however an unorthodox solution is to use a very sharp knife, a dinner knife with a handle is ideal. You need to have a razor edge on the knife so that it will cut freely through the sod. You can sharpen the knife on a bench grinder, or use a hand held carborundum stone as used for sharpening garden tools.

While holding the knife firmly, plunge it into the sod and then pull it towards you at a 45 degree angle

Use a sawing motion (as if you were cutting a Christmas cake!) to bypass any stones in the soil. If you hit any large rocks, remove the knife and cut a couple of inches further down along the hose. Use the hose as a rough guide.

This is actually an old cobbler's knife belonging to my grandfather (used in the days when people actually repaired shoes themselves!)
This is actually an old cobbler's knife belonging to my grandfather (used in the days when people actually repaired shoes themselves!) | Source

Once you have cut down into the sod, you need to under cut it

This can be done with a spade or hand trowel (planter). Push the trowel under the sod and scoop it out.



You have an edged bed with a neat cliff or kerb effect! Now all you need to do is slope the soil in the bed upwards and backwards from the base of the "cliff". Maintenance of this edge is now easy since the bed is lower than the lawn and the grass can be trimmed with a weed eater / lawn trimmer or hedge trimmers. You will need to do this periodically to maintain the definition of the edge.

Use Mulch to Suppress and Deter Weeds

You can use grass clippings, bark mulch or chipped branches as a mulch, spread on the bare soil around the edge of the bed. This helps to prevent weeds from growing and maintains the clean appearance of the edging.

Checkout this guide on how to make chippings using a small electric chipper:

Recycle garden waste with a chipper



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    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      This I have to try. Thanks

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 4 years ago from Ireland

      Your welcome wetnosedogs!

      It's too wet here to do any serious gardening but at least the days are getting longer!

    • Ged1962 profile image

      Ged1962 4 years ago from UK

      Nice info, evrytime I try it I seem to get grass all over the place and lumps on the side

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 4 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for the comment Ged.

      You can use a spade to do this, but using a knife is not much more difficult than cutting a Christmas cake.

    • azrestoexp profile image

      Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC 3 years ago

      Will be giving this a try now that the weather is getting cooler. Is that your yard in the pictures? If so, it's beautiful.

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks for the comments!

      Yes this is a photo of part of my front garden taken last year. Unfortunately the growing season has more or less come to an end here (apart from grass cutting), so I'll be taking a break from gardening until next spring!

    • profile image

      Vickiw 2 years ago

      Oh, I liked this! I'll find a knife to sacrifice for this purpose. Looks easy, and that lawn edge is the bane of my life. Now, if you could just write one on getting rid of clover easily . . .

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 2 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Vicki! I think you'll just have to use a lawn weed killer to deal with clover, daisies and other broad weed leaves. If you have the patience, you can use the same dinner knife for under cutting the roots of dandelions and thistles.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 2 years ago from Texas

      I like the nice edge on your flower beds! I'll have to give your method a try next spring.

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 2 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks! They don't stay long that way because grass grows like wild fire here!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Voila! indeed. This makes a tedious job easier.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 11 months ago from Los Angeles

      Great suggestion, Eugene- thanks! It seems that mechanical edgers are harder to control and damage tree bark. I personally prefer the hands-on techniques. Lovely garden, by the way:)

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 11 months ago from Ireland

      Thanks Catherine! It sounds bizarre using a knife, but when turf is being laid for a new lawn, that's what they use to trim and fit the stuff.

    • Sandra Ericson profile image

      Sandra Ericson 5 months ago from Washington D.C, USA - 20007

      Thanks Eugbug for providing us details about flower bed. This will help us a lot.

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