Creating a perfectly contoured lawn means reigning in the straggly edges of your grass. There are many tools on the market to help with this task. From basic manual styles to gas and electric-powered options, edging tools work with a singular goal in mind—to create a straight edge along the border of your lawn. With that in mind, here’s the lowdown on the different types of tools and how to use them.
Manual Lawn Edging Tools
There are two basic types of manual lawn edger tools, although there are variations available too. The stick, or half-moon edger, is typically made from steel and can have any type of handle. The functional part of the tool is a sharp, curved bottom edge that cuts through the sod as you apply pressure. Rounded on the bottom for ease of use, the top is flat with a lip that allows you to step on it. With this technique you use your body weight to drive the blade into the ground. The half-moon edger is a handy tool for small areas of grass, such as where your lawn meets the sidewalk in front of the house. The stick can be a physically exerting tool to use because it only cuts about eight inches of turf with each stomp. Then you need to move it to the next section again and again until the area is edged. Another challenge with the stick is creating a neat finished line. Each jab has the potential to take out too much sod, angle off in the wrong direction, or be uneven with the cut before it.
The second manual tool is a rotary blade mounted to a wheel and a handle. You use this tool with an aggressive back and forth motion. Each push and pull rotates a series of spokes similar to a cowboy spur. As each spoke cuts through the grass, it leaves a relatively neat line. The rotary blade is also a physically demanding tool as you consistently apply pressure while pushing and pulling it.
Electric Lawn Edgers
There are two main types of electric edgers: those that use a string and those that use a blade. String edgers use a fast-spinning disk of plastic that works as a blade. The string-shaped material cuts through grass and weeds as you rotate the edger back and forth. For edging lawns, the string edger often creates an uneven finish, but is a useful tool for large areas.
Blade edgers are typically pushed alongside the edge of the grass in a straight line. Underneath the machine, flat blades rotate around, cutting through the sod as you move forward. Blade edgers typically have a bit of jump and bounce as they try to cut through the soil, depending on if you have rocky, clay, or well-drained soil.
Both types of electric edgers require an extension cord to access power. This can be an inconvenience, as the cord tends to get in the way of the machine. You are also limited by the distance from an outlet that you can work. Both types of machines are easy to use, typically just requiring the push of a button or flip of a switch to start it. From there, look where you’re headed to maintain a straight line, similar to the way you’d look down the road when driving.
Gas Lawn Edgers
Gas-powered edgers work much in the same way as electric edgers. You will find both blade edgers and string edgers that are gas-powered. This offers a lot more convenience over pulling around an extension cord. Gas-powered models also offer greater portability.
Using a gas-powered string edger is the same as an electric edger once it is started. Starting a gas-powered string edger requires checking the gas and oil. Then pull the start cord, making sure the whipping cord is facing away from you. Always keep your hands and feet away from the moving string as you work.
A gas-powered blade edger is bulkier and heavier than an electric or manual model. This is due to all of the mechanical components. However, it will be more powerful and get the job done much faster than any other type, making it a good choice for large jobs. Again, this will require a pull start and monitoring of gas and oil levels. There may also be a speed adjustment option to control your speed as you walk behind the machine. There may also be a switch or level to engage the blades.
One additional type of gas-powered edger is the stick. This is basically a single blade that karate chops the grass as you move. It is good for confined spaces where a blade edger is too bulky.
Battery-Powered Lawn Edgers
The same options are available in battery-powered models with the same functionality as gas or electric. Like a battery-powered drill, the battery pops out of the machine so you will need to keep it charged and ready for use.
Tips for Powered Lawn Edgers
- Most models offer adjustments to accommodate the height of the users. Take advantage of these adjustments for a comfortable grip and improved posture.
- Maintain your edger by keeping the blades clean. Oil the blades if necessary to avoid rusting. In the off-season, drain the gas from gas-powered machines and store all tools under cover.