Although it is more work, finished, neat edges can make a landscape look polished and attractive. Lawn areas may look green and lush, but if the edges are uneven or untrimmed, the whole yard can seem unkempt.

Consider these tips to keep your landscape tidy.

• Remove and prevent grass from growing where it cannot be easily reached by a mower. This helps reduce edging time. Spray a non-selective herbicide such as Round-up or Finale to kill the grass and weeds around trees, fence posts, walls and rocks. Leave a large grass-free zone around trees and a smaller strip around rocks, fences and walls.

• Mix a pre-emergent herbicide such as Surflan with Round-up to prevent grass and weeds from returning. This kills existing weeds and deters germination for a few weeks.

• Design the landscaped area so it requires a minimal amount of edging or trimming. This means trees, shrubs and flowers should not be placed in the lawn, but in separate planting areas. Surround fences and rocks with some sort of edging material to prevent weeds and grass from growing up the fence or around the rocks.

• Consider the many materials that can be used as an edge around flower and shrub beds. Cement, redwood binder board, vinyl, rubber, bricks and other materials reduce the amount of trimming required. There is no perfect edging material, however. Each has benefits and drawbacks. Thick black rubber edging material holds its shape for many years, but can be expensive. Cheaper vinyl and plastic products are inexpensive, but tend to lose their shape over time. Redwood eventually wears out but is attractive and natural looking for many years. Cement, bricks and other hard materials last for many years, but can also be costly. Cement edging appears cold in a landscape and makes it difficult to change the shape of beds. Bricks are usually very moveable, but can be too mobile at times. Visit your local nursery or home improvement store to see available options.

• A cost-free option to maintain a clean appearance and keep grass in its place is to cut a 6 inch deep line between the bed and grass with a spade or shovel. A small scoop shovel leaves the straightest edge. This process needs to be repeated two or three times a year. Though it is cost free, it creates more regular work than the other methods.

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By: Jerry Goodspeed - Aug. 1, 2003