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If you can’t tell by my blog posts, we’ve been focusing our efforts on the exterior of the house over the past few weeks.  I’ve been enjoying it and have some good momentum, but we’re also trying to get as much done before it gets uncomfortably hot.  Spring and fall are my favorite times to be outside, so we’re trying to take advantage of it before we’re in the dog days of summer.  We started working on our fence yesterday and got the section on the right side of the house finished (except for a few finishing details) and we’ll get the other side done over the next 2-3 days.  I’ll share that process and the result in another post.  Something we worked on last week, though, was edging the front walk.

While the front of our house is very visible, the front door is rarely used.  Since the driveway, mailbox, and garage are on the right side of the house, we primarily use the kitchen entry.  Despite that, I want the front to look welcoming, inviting and cared for.  So, we’ve been working on fertilizing the grass, getting control of the weeds, and cleaning up against the curb.  With some of the foundation bushes planted and the new garden beds established either by tarping with black plastic to kill grass and weeds or with cardboard and mulch, we’re ready to do some edging to make things look sharp.  I like a garden that looks a little wild but I also like the structure of trimmed hedges and edged beds and walkways.  It’s sort of the garden equivalent of pencil lines around watercolor sketches.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

I have been making edges around beds and patios for a few years and it’s always been pretty disappointing.  It’ll look good for a week or two and then the grass will creep back in and it’ll look like I never edged.  As I’ve been walking around the neighborhood each day for exercise, I’ve been paying attention to the edges that really look sharp.  They are typically deep and about an inch wide, sometimes more.  It’s like a little trench, not just a thin line cut in the turf.  I felt like edging the beds was probably something we should hire out since I haven’t been very good at it in the past, but I decided to buckle down, watch some tutorials, and give it a good try again.

One of the keys to getting a good edge is having the right tool.  I had been using a half-moon-shaped edging tool, which makes sense because it’s made for edging, but it really wasn’t very effective.  In one of the videos I watched, someone edging a new garden bed recommended THIS SHOVEL.  It’s a spade with a very flat edge and a small ledge for you to push with your foot (or feet) where the shovel head meets the handle.  I figured buying a $30 shovel would be cheaper than hiring someone to make crisp edges for me, so I bought the shovel to give it a try.  Oh my…this is an edging game-changer.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

It’s a great tool, but there is still a bit of a learning curve when it comes to edging, especially if you’re working on a sidewalk that hasn’t been edged in a very long time (if ever.)  The turf had grown almost six inches over the concrete on either side, so we had to shovel that back off the walk to find the edge.  Jeff would scrape the turf off the concrete with an old flat should and I would cut the new edge, using the Fiskars shovel like a pogo stick.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

It cut a nice, deep edge, which was exactly what I wanted.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

Because I was going to have a lot of turf as a result of removing it from the sidewalk, I decided to try to repurpose it.  It’s hard to tell in the photo below, but there is a large, shallow hole in our yard, presumably where a tree or bush used to be planted.  I decided we would use the pieces removed from the walk edges as turf to fill in the hole.  At the very least, it would fill the hole with organic material, but hopefully, the sod would take and we’ll have a flatter area of grass there.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

I filled in the hold with some shredded leaves from the fall that had been composting (by happy accident) and arranged the pieces of turf on top.

filling in a hole with sod | miss mustard seed

Not only did we get the sidewalk edged, but using the material to fill a hole in the yard would save money on soil and seed.  It was a free project that crossed two things off our to-do list.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

It is amazing how much of the sidewalk was hidden and it looks so good now that it’s highlighted with a nice edge.  It was sometimes hard to judge where the edge of the sidewalk was since the grass was so overgrown, so our trench is a little wide in some areas, but that’s okay.  We learned a lot and our edging technique has improved as we’ve worked around other concrete surfaces.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

Eventually, liriope will line the walk, but that’s a project for a later date.  I have some liriope growing in several areas in the yard and I’ve already started to split it to make new borders along other beds.  Next year, I should have enough (or close to enough) to split to line the walk.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

We ended up having just enough turf to fill in the hole and, while it’s a little lumpy, it looks pretty good!  I’ve been keeping it well watered and it’s still alive.  We’ll see how it goes.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

We only worked on the part of the sidewalk that was lined by the grass on our first day of edging, so I finished up the part along the garden beds on another day.

This is the area that’s tarped to smother goutweed and any other plants before we bring in new soil for grading and planting next year.  I put it down on a day that was pretty hot, so I didn’t worry about edging.  Now that I had the right tool, I lifted the sides of the plastic to create a nice edge.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

The next project on the list for this area is to powerwash the sidewalk.  I know that will make a tremendous difference so I can’t wait to see it done.  Jeff is going to work on that for me, but I’ve got him busy with building a fence at the moment.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

You can see our wonky lines in this photo, but that’s okay.  Any time Jeff would fret about a crooked edge, I would point out that we’re beginners and its not going to be perfect the first time.  It takes practice and experience and we’ll gain both of those by doing more edging.  With all of the garden beds, sidewalks, patio, and pool deck, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to grow in both practice and experience.

edging a front walk | miss mustard seed

It’s a gorgeous day and my guys are taking a break from yesterday’s fencing work, so I’m going to take advantage of the weather and get some more edging done.  I’m donning my overalls and I’m ready to go…

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    25 Comments

    1. Teresa

      Great job on the edging! Your walkway looks so manicured and defined now. It will look great when you plant the liriope. I wish I lived closer; I would give you all the liriope you want! It does spread a great deal so keep that in mind when you plant it.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        I asked around figuring I would be able to find someone splitting theres, but I ended up having to buy them. Between the back and front, I now have enough to split my own (and will probably be giving it away at some point!)

        Reply
    2. Linda O

      Your yard looks so much nicer than when you first bought the house. The trellis detail makes the plain wall really come alive When we moved to AZ 45 years ago, I planned to have the beautiful garden area like we had back in Michigan. For the 1st few months, I was mad that the builder had dumped unused concrete in the ground and covered it up. I finally found out it wasn’t concrete, but caliche, a layer of soil that forms when calcium carbonate cements soil particles together. It is a white-ish gray color. It took a long time to remove the caliche and hard work to replace with the soil. But, we finally did get our beautiful flowers and veggies once again. You and your guys are doing a great job!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Oh my, that sounds like a massive amount of work!!

        Reply
    3. Janet

      I wonder if this tool would work on periwinkle, too. Little fine vines just keep growing out onto the sidewalk. I’ve seen those shovels at Home Depot and just might pick one up! Thanks for the update1

      Reply
      • Kate

        Black & Decker make a tool called the “Edge- hog”. It makes quick work of a back- breaking project and will allow you to do perfect edging on ALL your garden beds, walkways, driveway and curb. Your husband will love you for it. I love all your projects but the fireplace mantle is really good! I’m finishing a garden tuteur and will forward a picture to you.

        Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Since periwinkle is a creeper, my guess is it will still creep over the trench, but I’m not sure. I would think it would keep the roots at bay, but I’m not sure how deep they go. That’s a plant I haven’t studied very much, yet.

        Reply
    4. Kim

      Yes, a clean edge always makes everything look nice! You can also achieve this with a string trimmer used vertically, but it won’t be that wide or deep. I do this every time I mow so it always stays sharp. There are also machines just for edging. I find that I can get a great edge using the half-moon shaped edger tool, but your straight-edge shovel will work just as well!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Yes! I think now that we have the trench dug, we’ll maintain it with the string trimmer.

        Reply
    5. Babs

      The former owners must be thrilled at all the love and care you are pouring into your home. Having lived in our last home for 20 years I know that while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak…or very tired. There were so many jobs that went undone due to our lack of energy…not a lack of care. We are so pleased that the new people are putting lots of energy and effort into our former home…doing things we would have loved to have done. We had done a lot to the house when we moved in two decades ago but had no desire to do them all over again. Let the new people do it!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        I was just talking with their daughter on Sunday (she attends our church) and she thinks her mom would love the things we’re doing to the house. This house was well loved and cared for, it was their “dream house.” As you said, I’m sure she no longer had the physical energy to garden and care for the yard, but I know they family did what they could to bring the yard into her through cuttings and bouquets and planted things where she could see them from the window. I’m glad we’ve been able to both revive it and make it our own.

        Reply
    6. Kate

      Black & Decker make a tool called the “Edge- hog”. It makes quick work of a back- breaking project and will allow you to do perfect edging on ALL your garden beds, walkways, driveway and curb. Your husband will love you for it. I love all your projects but the fireplace mantle is really good! I’m finishing a garden tuteur and will forward a picture to you.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        I will check it out! We got an edger from my father-in-law and it does work well, but it wasn’t making the trench as deep and wide as I wanted. It might be good to use now that one has been established.

        Reply
    7. Barbara Cuevas

      Such beautiful work you do – you truly are amazing. I love that you are willing to try to learn something new. That is admirable. Good luck on your future projects!

      Reply
    8. Rebecca

      What a difference edging makes! Believe it or not, my sons and I were just discussing the various ways of edging a yard and which would be the best for us this morning. When I saw the title of today’s post, I just shook my head in wonder – again. I say again because earlier you posted about weaving willow branches. Once again, I too had been studying on that very topic this year and considering whether I perhaps ought to give it a go. Beautiful work. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Well, it sounds like we are on the same wavelength!

        Reply
    9. Mindy P-A

      Hi Marian
      Have you given thought to enlarging the posts on the front porch? Looks like a diy project for your talented and hardworking family!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        It has been suggested, but the current scale of the posts doesn’t bother me. It seems to suit the style and era of the home, but it might be worth drawing a mock-up to see what that would do.

        Reply
    10. Addie

      Hello,
      It is amazing how a little attention to detail can make a world of difference. I don’t think it looks “wonky” from the picture…it looks cared for.

      Just wondering…have you ever given thought to painting your lamp post black? The lantern is black and the pole is just part of it. I think it would play nicely with the roof, the pots on the porch and the lantern top. Even the windows and door side lights give off a black vibe. I think it would tie it together. As now, I feel it is just poking out of the ground. I don’t see a mail box and maybe the green ties in with that? And being there in person can be a big difference.
      Love all the changes.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        I hadn’t thought of that, but it could look nice. I haven’t cleaned the post or given it a fresh coat of paint, yet, but black might look sharp. I do think planting around the post would look nice as well and help it look a little more connected to the front walk.

        Reply
    11. Valeri Johnson

      The trench edging really works because the roots don’t like air. You just have to trench deep enough to be below the grass roots, which except for nut grasses are pretty shallow. I did a trench around some beds three years ago and it still hasn’t crossed

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Yes, that’s what I read. I think I got it deep enough so it will be effective.

        Reply
    12. noreen kelly

      not sure if its a thing in the US but metal edging strips are a big thing here. they come in various finishes but mine are a rusted look. the get hammered into the edges of lawns or paths and you see about an inch or two above the grass. you no longer have to edge… ever. its been fantastic

      Reply
      • jenw

        We’ve tried these as we like the look, but living in an area with a lot of freeze/thaw cycles through winter (Indiana) causes the edging to heave after even one winter. Then we have to go around and straighten it back out, scrape upwhatever mulch/rocks escaped under the heaved areas, and pound the stakes back in place. It’s a huge headache for many areas in the US. I bet it’s great in the South though and really is a nice neat look.

        Reply
    13. Patricia W Mirza

      I just love your posts and love seeing your beautiful house emerge! We just moved from our small ranch house of 40 years to a condo, and I never thought I’d miss mowing the lawn and weeding my gardens! But it’s painful how much I miss everything. As of now, the new owners haven’t made an attempt to restore my gardens, but I hope they’re just busy and have plans to do so. It would make me feel so much better, so I know the former owners’ family appreciates all your hard work and your beautiful design choices. I look forward to all your blog posts!

      Reply

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    Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

    I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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