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What are the Different Ways to Define the Edge of a Garden?

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  • Written By: S. Mithra
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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Different ways to define the edge of a garden will also define the mood, formality, geometry, and overall impact of your landscape. Hardscape elements, such as a path made of cobblestones, brick, or cement, will give an exact boundary at the ground level. Softer possibilities include a row of trees or hedges, a trellised vine, or merely another variety of garden. Creative ways will provide visual interest, add functionality, and help your garden stay healthy.

A low fence is the most traditional strategy to define the edge of a garden. A simple wooden picket fence will do the trick. Iron railings or vinyl fences work the same way but given a different impression. Variations on the fence idea include trellises. Trellises are crisscrossed walls of wood strips, usually cedar or redwood, which support vines. Fences let you see through to the garden, or past the garden, yet still give an exact linear boundary.

Structures lower to the ground can delineate a boundary. For example, a curving trail of bricks or river rocks is simple to set into the soil. Without so much height, ground boundaries are softer and more organic, and allow you to weed or trim plants to maintain the boundary. Frequently, bricks or rocks separate a bed of flowers from a lawn.

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Creating a design that will define the edge of a garden may be as simple as taking its edge to the end of soil. In this kind of boundary, the garden gives way to artificial flooring. It may be a narrow, meandering path of pavers, a square brick patio, or a cement walkway. These are more permanent ways of delineating a garden. Formal gardens are often crossed in a geometric pattern of paved pathways to create symmetrical shapes.

A softer way to define the edge of a garden is to segue to another garden. For example, a field of wildflowers could give way to a lawn and a few fruit trees; neat rows of cabbage and corn could abut circular plantings of herbs. Our eye will naturally separate these different growing spaces without needing a physical delimiter.

Other, more inventive ways to define the edge include using sculptural or water elements. A koi pond, reflecting pool, or even wine barrel filled with horsetail will interrupt the dry ground with the peace of water. If you have the space, a stream, waterfall, or pond with a splashing fountain gives a kind of sonic boundary.

Sculptures, whether birdbaths, kinetic metal art pieces or topiary, are other noticeable elements that can define the edge of a garden. Mount any interesting sculpture at waist or eye level and visitors to your home use it to orient themselves to the quadrants of the garden. Decorative birdhouses can sit on pedestals, as can birdfeeders or birdbaths.

Finally, a change in elevation, flanked by short, rock walls or planks, gives steps to your garden. For centuries, people have terraced their gardens to take advantage of sloping hillsides. Stairs or ramps can connect the different levels of your yard and define the edges in an interesting and aesthetically pleasing way.

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Mykol
Post 3

The only place I have to plant any kind of garden is on a slope. For many years I didn't even try to do anything with this space, but decided to make a terraced garden. I use stepping stones to separate the spaces and create an edge to the different areas.

Once this was done, it looks much better than not having anything there and is even easier and more pleasant to maintain. I planted mostly perennials and have something in bloom most all season long. I also created some natural edging by placing the taller plants in the back.

honeybees
Post 2

I like to have a combination of vegetables, herbs and flowers in my garden space. When I sat down to design my garden I planned on having the vegetables in the center and use herbs and flowers as edging.

I keep one long edge for tomato plants and the other three edges are either low growing herbs or flowers. These include thyme, bee balm and dwarf asters. All of these are perennials and will come back every year.

They are also great for attracting insects to your garden and the bees will pollinate the flowers which is beneficial for your whole garden.

John57
Post 1

I have a pretty big sized vegetable garden and am able to have a surplus of food to share with others and can or freeze. We live in the country, and the edging for my garden has to be some kind of fence, or the deer would destroy it.

Before I put a fence around the edge of my garden, they would eat my peas, beans and tomatoes. One year my tomatoes were looking pretty good and I had several plants with green tomatoes on them. The next day when I went out to do some weeding - every one of the tomatoes were gone from the plants.

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