Thanks to Edge Right for partnering with me on this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I feel like I’ve been in the home stretch of my veggie garden glow-up for several weeks and the fact of the matter is, it’s actually been a few months. Budget plays into everything I do, and sometimes things don’t happen as quickly as I’d like. Certain kids need new athletic equipment or there’s a last minute school fee we overlooked. So I stay flexible, knowing eventually I’ll get to it and all will work out. And if it doesn’t, well we call that a character building moment. I’ve had many.
I hate to say what I do is affordable because affordability is relative. So I guess the working word is “plan.” Which takes several forms when it comes to a glow-up, indoors or out. Planning in advance is what makes a space possible, even if it takes months or years to get there. In my case, I’m never completely “there,” because like “affordability,” “there” is another relative term. But that’s the life of a gardener. My husband simply thinks I’m obsessed and he’s right. But don’t tell him that. There are worse things.
So when it comes to fixing up a space, I take my time. Rushing to finish often leaves me dissatisfied with the end result. In the case of my veggie garden, I’m completely tickled with how it’s turning out. What’s more, doing it in the fall means I’ll be ready to rock and roll at the first glimmer of spring next year.
I approached the garden as I would an interior space – floors, walls, ceiling, lights. The plants for the raised beds are the bling and they’ll come next spring. We’ll take a deep dive into that in the new year. I’m counting the days and my seed list is growing by the second.
The glow up began in September with the walls of the raised beds. They got two coats of Charcoal Grey stain from Vermont Natural Coatings. You can read more about that here. I thought the beds looked gorgeous after the stain and now that the glow-up is nearly complete, they’re even more so.
Let’s move onto the floor.
Choosing An Edger
There are all sorts of surfaces from which to choose – grass, mulch, pavers, flagstone.
I’ve always loved the look of pea gravel and that was what I envisioned for my garden floor. But here’s the thing, my yard slopes so I need a sturdy barrier that can contain it. Otherwise, it would run off into the neighbors yard or into the sewer just a few feet away.
I’ve used the plastic edging that is a pain to unroll. No amount of heating it up in the sun makes manipulating it any easier. So that option was out.
I’ve also used rigid plastic edger in other parts of the garden that looked nice the first season, but then winter revealed its true nature. The following spring, the top had splintered off and I was picking up sharp little plastic pieces. I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose it and should have expected that outcome given my zone 5b climate.
The original edging I used in the veg garden was made of recycled tires. Two three-foot lengths prevented grass from invading. It too looked nice at first, but then heaved the following year.
Then I remembered an edger I saw often while producing photo shoots for Country Gardens magazine. A landscape architect for one of the locations explained that the rusted metal edger was Cor-ten steel. I liked the look and the tight, clean line it gave the garden beds. I also loved the naturally developing rust that forms a protective layer on the steel and never requires painting.
If you’re from Chicago, you know the Daley Center. The public building, completed in 1965 in the heart of downtown, was one of the first to be covered in Cor-ten steel. The material was chosen for its durability, low maintenance and rusted patina. I chose it for those reasons too, but for a considerably smaller application.
Installing Edge Right
Lucky for us, Edge Right makes a Cor-ten metal edging system geared to the DIYer. To get started, all you have to do is measure your space to get an idea of how many four-foot runs you’ll need. This will also help you determine the number of connector clips to order. The clips create a seamless look so that even if your pieces don’t totally meet edge to edge, the clips make it appear so. My space was a little wonky, with a few interesting turns and only one real corner. I needed just one corner connector.
Edge Right offers three different heights – six, eight and 14 inches. The six-inch height may be all you need if your trying to define the edge between lawn and landscape. I went with eight inches since it allowed me plenty of wiggle room to drop in a two-inch paver base followed by two inches of pea gravel while still sinking about four inches into the soil. I wanted to make sure the pea gravel had as much stability as possible so I could roll my cart in and out without trouble. A good layer of paver base makes it less shifty under foot.
If you’re unsure which to choose for your project, give Edge Right a call. I love a company with excellent customer service and I chatted them up at length.
Tips and Tricks
As for installation, it’s a piece of cake. Sharp teeth make it easy to drive into the ground. If your soil is heavy clay like mine, install Edge Right after a rain or hose the area before hand. It softens the soil and makes installation so much easier. To make the process even faster, use an edging tool to create a channel first. It’s especially helpful around curves, keeping each piece in place as you pound it in. The extra step actually shortens installation time.
If necessary, you can even overlap the pieces and use clips to secure them together. We only had to cut one piece for the three-foot span between the raised beds. I could have allowed a six-inch overlap on the raised beds on each side but I prefer a clean look so we got out the reciprocating saw outfitted with a steel-cutting blade and made it happen.
The flooring is in and I couldn’t be happier than if I was actually walking on an Oriental rug. It’s turning out exactly as I imagined. Stay tuned for step four of my veggie garden glow-up where I add the actual glow.
And if you want to see the install in action, click here to check out my YouTube video.
We have the same or similar edging now for 8+ years and it’s still looks amazing. I love it. The patina evens out really nice . Ours separates two types of rocks (landscape vs seating area). When it heaves, just pound it back in. I love the pea gravel also. It’s a breeze to pull weeds especially, with fabric underneath. It’s also a good seed nursery. I’ve pulled many volunteer irises, and alexander goldenrods from the area and replanted around. Our pea gravel area can get slightly swampy, and it’s still easy to walk on.
Heather Blackmore says
I’m so glad I went with this steel edger. It’s so clean looking and easy to fix when it heaves. I can’t wait to see this area planted and lush this year!