Op­tions for the Gar­den

Arts and Crafts Homes - - FRONT PAGE - Bv BofAN a. ClibMAN

A sta­ple of English Arts & Crafts gar­dens, edg­ing has prac­ti­cal as well as his­tor­i­cal ap­peal. Choose from buried bar­ri­ers to brick, stone, iron, or tile.

Edg­ing pre­vents soil and mulch from over­flow­ing flower beds, and helps keep loose gravel or mulch within their bor­ders for crisp and clearly de­fined walk­ways. Us­ing taller bor­ders of minia­ture box­wood or low fenc­ing di­rects traf­fic and keeps vis­i­tors (in­clud­ing way­ward chil­dren and dogs) on the paths and out of the flow­ers.

A wide range of ma­te­ri­als and styles is avail­able to­day to edge a gar­den, from re­claimed, rope-edged English tiles to modern bands of steel, plas­tic, or alu­minum. Any type can work in an Arts & Crafts gar­den if well placed in the land­scape. For dec­o­ra­tive edg­ing, color is a place to start: Terra-cotta bricks or salt-glazed, red-brown English tiles work well with gar­dens planted in a fall pal­ette of bur­gundy, gold, and dark leafy green; bor­ders of soft grey stones or slabs of blue slate com­ple­ment lighter plant­ings, such as a spring­time bed of pink aza­leas. Struc­ture in the gar­den should co­or­di­nate with the com­po­si­tion of the edg­ing. Thus, if you have a brick pa­tio or a tile foun­tain, con­sider edg­ing the paths with brick or com­ple­men­tary tiles to tie the land­scape to­gether.

In­stalling tile, brick, or stone edg­ing is not com­pli­cated (but you will need a strong back). Be sure to check with the lo­cal util­i­ties for un­der­ground lines be­fore any dig­ging. Start by out­lin­ing the area; a gar­den hose works well if the bor­der is curved, or use a tight string for straight lines. Lightly out­line the fi­nal edge with spray paint. Next, dig a trench four to six inches wide and three to four inches deep, us­ing a square spade for cleanly cut lines. Fill the bot­tom of the trench with an inch of sand to sta­bi­lize the edg­ing and pre­vent grass roots from in­vad­ing the beds; pack it down well and spray it lightly with wa­ter to help it set­tle.

Then set the bricks or tiles, mak­ing sure they pro­trude at least two inches above the soil, es­pe­cially if the bed is heav­ily mulched. Tap any loose pieces lightly into place with a wooden mal­let and fill with more sand, gravel, or mulch, pack­ing in very snugly. For a long-last­ing, un­mov­ing bor­der, use L-shaped paver edg­ing held with long spikes, like those by Edge-Tite (see Foot­notes, p. 71).

To edge be­tween lawn and mulched beds, whether for a flower bor­der or around trees, a buried metal edg­ing works well if it’s prop­erly in­stalled. Typ­i­cally steel, the edg­ing comes in 4" x 10'-long strips. It’s easy to bend around curves and hills, but it’s heavy (about 225 lbs./100 ft.) and steel can rust. Coated alu­minum pro­vides a sim­i­lar look but is lighter (41 lbs./100 ft.) and eas­ier to work with, and it doesn’t cor­rode. Plas­tic edg­ing is avail­able as well, but not as his­tor­i­cally sym­pa­thetic and looks ter­ri­ble if it heaves upward. These edg­ings gen­er­ally pro­trude about a half inch and can be mowed over. But metal is sharp, a con­sid­er­a­tion.

Other ma­te­ri­als can be used for edg­ing, of course. New Eng­land Gar­den Or­na­ments shows a par­tially buried an­tique iron wagon wheel to de­fine the wedges of an herb gar­den! If you use a raised edg­ing—cast iron, cob­ble­stone, brick sol­diers—con­sider trip haz­ards and al­ways leave an ob­vi­ous path through or around it.

For a wider di­vi­sion be­tween lawn and beds, or lawn and a stone wall or fence, con­sider a swath of gravel or a wider bor­der of paving stones or tiles. Pavers are laid in a bed of sand and re­quire min­i­mal main­te­nance. A wider swath sets off gar­den struc­tures such as foun­tains or ter­races, and sharp­ens the over­all lay­out and de­sign of the gar­den. And that nice, flat edge makes mow­ing and trim­ming the lawn much eas­ier. a

In Charleston, a brick bor­der be­tween lawn and hedge makes mow­ing eas­ier— no whacker needed.

A flag­stone pa­tio be­comes a wide bor­der of stones and step-able ground cover be­tween plant­ing beds.

A dou­ble bor­der— minia­ture box­wood hedges and flag­stones in gravel—is also a path.

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