Best Lawn Edger for Trimming Ragged Edges and Taming Encroaching Plants

At one time, edging and trimming around walks and growing beds meant using hand clippers or getting up close and personal with stray grass and weeds. Hand tools are still an option for creating neat, trim edges around walks and along borders. For larger gardens, automated tools might be a better option.

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There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 5 of the very best options.

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

Edger History

The concept of a mechanical edger is certainly not a new one – as demonstrated by this illustration from “Popular gardening and fruit growing,” published in 1885. Indeed, for a small garden, an edger that is operated solely upon muscle power is still a viable choice.

A classic hand edger
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The way an edger works is it cuts along the edge of a walk, path or bed, chopping off stray bits of grass or weeds while cutting through wandering roots. It is not only useful for making a tidy edge on a border area, it can also be used to cut sod.

Sod Shanty
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Cutting sod isn’t something that people do often, these days unless they work for a landscaping company. At one time cutting sod was not only part of preparing a field for plowing it could also be part of the process of building. Sod shanties were a reasonable alternative in the western part of the United States during the westward expansion. Areas such as Kansas did not have enough trees to make them a viable building material. Pieces of sod could be stacked and turned into houses.

The most common use of edgers, however, has been to create clean, trim lines to give your lawn that beautiful, carefully manicured look.

First Powered Edger

The first gasoline powered edger was developed in the 1940’s by Louis Faas, who was working for the King o’ Lawn company. His design used a 1.5 Briggs and Stratton motor and a system of pulleys to make it work.

Other companies quickly got on the band wagon, coming out with their own lawn trimmer designs. However, all of these designs resemble the original “Weed Eater.”

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More modern edgers include models that are powered by electricity or cordless models that run on battery power. These are not a robust as a gas-powered edger but make the difference by being lighter and easier to handle.

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One place where an edger would certainly be handy is in maintaining a formal, ornamental garden. To maintain a bed in the shape of Celtic knotwork, for example, smooth, well-trimmed edges are essential to maintain the appearance of the bed.

From Edger to Trimmer

An edger was used in the development of the “weed eater.” George Ballas, a Texas resident, got the idea after watching how the brushes in a car wash spun around. Mr. Ballas attached a popcorn can to his trimmer and tied a length of fishing line to it. He called his 1970’s invention the Weed Eater because of the way it chewed up grass and weeds. His invention became also known as a weed whacker, weed whip, or a line trimmer.

Ballasteamed up with an engineer, patented the name “Weed Eater” and set out to market his machine. But none of the big companies wanted it, so he looked for other ways to market his invention. By 1976, Weed Eater Incorporated grossed over $40 million. In 1977, Ballas sold the Weed Eater patent to Electrolux.

Combination Tools

Many modern trimmers combine the edger feature with the string trimmer, and even combine them so the user can easily switch between one mode and the other. Other features have been added – such as a sort of bumper to keep the line from scraping against tender flower stalks or young trees, wheels so the user does not have to support the weight of the entire machine while moving it along the desired trim line.

Garden edgers, whether hand operated, motorized and accompanies or not by a string trimmer can play an important role in maintaining crisp, orderly lines around a lawn or formal garden.

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Reflecting upon Edgers

If you have a small lawn or a short walk, a manual edger is still a viable option for keeping up with straggling grass and weeds. Firmly push the edging tool down between the edge of the walk and the lawn space. You might have to rock it back and forth to make the blade cut through tough grass or weed stems. Having a spading fork or regular spade at hand can be helpful if you have hard clay or rocky soil.

For larger lawns or for a space that has many beds, borders and walks, a powered edger might be a better choice. Most of them are set up so that you can simply position the machine at the edge of the bed or walk, and push it forward. The problem with this method is that it is easier to over-shoot your mark and trim something that you did not intend to trim.

Factors that affect use of an Edger

Soil type and general tilth will affect how easy it is to use a manual edger, or even one that is powered. The type of grass that grows in your lawn will also affect ease of use. Hard clay and exceptionally rocky soil will be more difficult that soil that is sandy or that has good organic content. Organic content is best because it is plant friendly, and both holds water and absorbs it.

One solution to difficult areas is to edge a little bit at a time and to work on removing large rocks from the area that will need to be edged on a regular basis. Another method is to do the easy parts, then come back to the difficult areas with a spade or spading fork to amend the problem.

Like most garden work, edging is easier when it is done frequently. The lines are already marked, so to speak. You will have removed the worse of the rocks, and the tough vegetation won’t have had time to sprawl across walkways.

By making edging a regular part of your lawn maintenance, it will soon begin to show in the appearance of your walks and your beds – just as does regular mowing, frequent weeding and consistent watering. Having a routine helps with any sort of plant, lawn and garden maintenance.

Product Reviews – The Best Lawn Edger

1. Radius Garden 20608 PRO Ergonomic Stainless Steel Edger, Slate

The radius garden pro ergonomic stainless steel edger is perfect for the homeowner with a small garden and small yard. It is designed to cut through roots and sod, making a clean, tidy cut.

It can be used to clear encroaching growth from along the edges of sidewalks or flower beds. It can also be used when clearing ground for new planting. The way it works is simple – push down on the handle, rock it back and forth a little, and make a tidy cut. If you are clearing ground, make three more cuts, creating a square of sod. Slip a spading fork or shovel under the section, and lift it out.


Pros

  • No batteries, cables or gasoline
  • Looped handle
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Needs sharpening before first use
  • Too short for some users
  • Too tall for some users

2. Garden Weasel Edge Chopper

The garden weasel edge chopper is another edger that would work well for gardeners with a small area to maintain. It has a traditional T handle, a wedge-shaped blade that is attached by a U-shaped loop that lets the user place a foot in the middle of the blade for maximum force.

The garden weasel is designed to make it easy to define the edge of an area where grass and weeds are growing along side a flower bed or is beginning to sprawl over a walkway.

The Garden Weasel can also be used to cut sod. However, some users report that it does not work well in rocky or hard soil.


Pros

  • No cables, no batteries, no gasoline
  • Comfortable foot action
  • Wedge shape can penetrate difficult areas

Cons

  • Might not work on some soil types

3. BLACK+DECKER LST420 20V MAX Lithium High Performance Trimmer and Edger, 12"

The Black and Decker trimmer and edger runs on 20V MAX Lithium batteries. That means that you have no trailing cables, and no struggles with pull cords or gasoline. It can be either a trimmer or an edger, so it can take on your cleanup work after mowing.

Users report that it does a good job on tough weeds and grass, and they love not having to mess with gas or with cables. However, it is a good idea to pay attention to the two-speed setting. The “1” setting uses less energy, but isn’t as powerful as the other setting. The higher setting will use more energy.


Pros

  • Battery operated
  • Serves as a trimmer and an edger
  • Two speed setting for energy saving
  • Might be good for medium sized property

Cons

  • Need to have second battery charging
  • Batterie that come with it do not hold charge
  • Not as powerful as slightly larger tool

4. WORX 32-Volt GT2.0 String Trimmer/Edger/Mini-Mower with Tilting Head and Single Line Feed

The Worx 32-volt string trimmer/edger/mini-mower comes with three spools string, one 32-volt battery, and a charger. The mini-mower can be converted from one mode to another without having to stop and change attachments. It is equipped with a swivel head that allows it to adjust angle – up to 90 degrees – to access those hard-to-reach spots.

Extra spools of line are free-of-charge, for as long as you own the mini-mower – all you will need to pay is shipping and handling. The unit has small wheels to help stabilize and guide it during use.


Pros

  • Lifetime supply of replacement spools
  • Small stabilizing wheels
  • Converts easily between three modes
  • Battery operated – no cords, no gasoline
  • Has a protection feature to avoid unintentional cutting

Cons

  • Has only one speed
  • Some problems with string feed

​5. Weed Eater WE20VT 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery Powered String Trimmer and Edger – 967599701

The Weed eater 20-volt battery powered trimmer and edger is a new take on the classic lawn tool that made the term “weed eater” a household name – as in, “Leonard, go get the weed eater and finish cleaning up the yard.”

This Weed Eater has two modes – trim and edge. It has a Twist n edge feature, along with an edge guide to ensure trimming only that which should be trimmed, and not that which should kept.

Included in the Weed Eater package is a battery, battery charger. The Weed Eater comes with a four-year warranty, the battery and charge have a two-year warranty.


Pros

  • Light weight for older and petite users
  • Battery operated – no cords or gasoline
  • Easy to change between modes

Cons

  • Only one battery included – lasts about 30 minutes
  • Replacement batteries are expensive

Choosing the Best Lawn Edger for Trimming Ragged Edges and Taming Encroaching Plants

And our selection for Best Edger for trimming ragged edges and taming encroaching plants is the Worx edger/trimmer/mini-mower. With its battery power, and three-way function, it is a versatile garden tool that can take care of all those corners and hard-to-mow areas, as well as neatly trim the edges of walks and beds.

Although users have to pay shipping and handling, there is also something attractive about that business of being able to simply request replacement string spools.

More importantly, it comes equipped with an adjustable bumper guard to keep from accidentally trimming your prize irises or young fruit trees during the process of cleaning up the lawn.

Ona Jo Bass
 

Ona Jo Bass grew up on a small farm in the middle of Missouri. She currently lives in a small town – still in Missouri – where she writes, gardens, enjoys her cats, dog and grandchildren.

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