Lawn meets garden – wham – just like that! And, suddenly, there’s a whole lot of work to do, apart from just mowing the grass. Just how do you keep edges looking ship shape without the constant chore of clipping edges?
One way to handle it, of course, is with ornamentals, but if edibles come first in your list of priorities, you may want to look for a more satisfying solution. My go-to’s for easy-care edible edgings are herbs, with favourites being frothy parsley (the curly rather than the flat-leaved variety) and the equally lush wonder-herb: ‘parcel’ sometimes called wild celery or parsley-celery). While neither are perennials, both of these deep-green, fast-growing plants are self-seeding, meaning you never have to replant. Just let one or two stems go to seed and shake the dried head onto the soil below (or leave it to its own devices). These herbs appreciate sun but will also grow well enough in dappled light. Moisture is essential to them so don’t let them dry out. To regulate their growth, add a little compost and manure to the soil for a gorgeous cascading look or hold back on the nutrients for a more compact, mini-hedge effect. Teamed with easy-to-grow African marigolds the result is eye-catching colour contrast.
For a lighter edging in a drier environment, look no further than marjoram or thyme. These edging plants have the added bonus of offering perfumed leaves and pretty flowers. For edging with texture, chives are good value. First comes that spiky new growth in early spring which is followed just a few weeks later by attractive mauve flowers born on upright stems. The beauty of using chives as an edging plant is that they soon clump up to form a short, tight hedge which can be neatly trimmed back with the scissors as you harvest.
In the vegetable department, leafy greens make bold borders and pack plenty of punch with a variety of colours. But they are almost always annuals and require the work that goes with that status. If you’re up for a bit of replanting, look no further than frilly (rather than hearting or conical) lettuces which come in a range of colours from lime-greens and reds to speckled varieties such as ‘Freckles’ (Kings Seeds). In an even wider range of colour come the traffic light silver beets, and although they have a tendency to grow tall and then flop over onto the lawn, if denied the kind of feeding you would normally give them in the vegetable garden proper, they will generally be more co-operative.
Always looking for easy-care answers, I prefer to stick with perennials when it comes to edging, and I like a robust plant that will survive a few knocks from the lawn mower. For this reason, my perennial edible edgings of choice are the wiry, autumn fruiting ugni berry (which readily clips into any shape you choose and grows like a dream from a rooted cutting), or the shortest varieties of s blueberry bushes I can find. Alternatively, gooseberries bounch back from a blow with the lawn mower and have the happy knack of cascading onto the grass, thus hiding any untidy edges.
Whatever you decide to use as an edible edging, its bound to save you hours of tedious clipping and will result in a delicious, harvestable garden border that shows off your lawn to its best.