I’m frequently asked about edging — because most gardens NEED SOME — and people are (rightly) hesitant to invest in those plastic gizmos that demarcate between lawn and border. So here’s what I recommend instead.
Those Victorians got it right
Why this is called a “Victorian trench” I’ll never know because we don’t usually associate that word with naturalistic gardening. But the edging shown here does what edging needs to do — holds back the lawn from the garden and the garden from the lawn — without being an eyesore in the garden.
How to do it
It’s easy. Just take a flat-edged shovel and dig straight down 3 inches along the outer edge of the lawn. Then dig a second slice that’s at a 45-degree in the direction of the border or bed. So you’ll end up with a trench that’s straight downward on the lawn side and angled up to the border. Remove the extra soil. Then mulch the border, allowing some mulch to cover the slope of your new edge, and voila — you’ve got an edge that looks spiffy but natural.
How to maintain it
Okay, here’s the downside. It needs to be spruced up at least once a year. That means removing any grass on the border side, border plants on the grass side, and re-digging the edge as needed. But hey, even hard plastic edges allow for the occasional movement of plants in the wrong direction, and they’re known to pop up and need maintenance to keep them in place.
Also, lots of maintenance time is saved by not having to hand-trim grass along the edge, since the mower wheels can be directed into the edge or along the top of the border to ensure mowing of the whole lawn.