How to edge a tree

How to Edge Around Trees & Mulch Beds | Davey Blog

When looking at a professionally maintained yard or landscape, you may wonder what about it looks so clean and appealing. You may have the same plants, trees, or even the same design, but you still feel something is missing.

A small but important detail in landscaping is edging. Edging creates a border around a tree or garden to keep mulch from migrating off your treescape or flower beds and into your yard. It also provides a barrier for weeds, grass, and other nuisance plants and creates a tidy appearance to your property.

Edging may seem like a complicated process but by breaking it down, you can easily accomplish that pristine look to your yard in no time.

How to Create Edges Around Your Mulch Beds (Trees, Garden)

There are a few different types of methods and materials you can use to edge your garden or tree. Spade-cut edging is the simplest type of border. It involves using a spade to dig a narrow trench around the outside of the bed or tree you are setting apart. Other types of edging include:

  • Strip edging: Consists of a shallow barrier anchored beneath the ground with the top part of the edging visible to subtly set apart the grass and section you want to be separated. Strip edging works best for creating curves and comes in plastic and metal varieties.
  • Masonry edging: Composed of stone, brick, or concrete. Masonry edging is the most expensive type. Stone is attractive and allows you to match new borders with any existing stonework in your yard, while concrete borders come in pre-formed sections of different shapes and styles. This makes concrete an easily installed piece.
  • Wood edging: Comes in precut sections of alternating heights, either as round logs or flat boards. Wood edging is durable and affordable. The types of wood used for these pieces are mostly cedar, cypress, and redwood, which naturally resist rot.

Edging Around Flower & Garden Beds

The most common form of edging around a flower and garden bed is the spade-cut version. To do this, follow these edging steps:

  1. You should face the garden bed and use the spade to slice into turf repeatedly until you’ve outlined the entire bed
  2. Once you’ve contoured the edging’s shape to your desire, face away from the bed and slice into the turf at an angle to sever the grass.
  3. Remove the clods and dispose or compost them. This creates a v-shaped trench that slows migration of grassroots into the bed and prevents mulch migration.
  4. If desired, you can also add wood, metal, concrete, or plastic edging for extra support and decoration.

The biggest disadvantage of digging the trench is having to periodically re-dig it. If you decide to add wood, metal, concrete, or plastic to your edging, there are a few disadvantages to those as well. Steel and concrete are the most expensive, and concrete is a permanent option that can settle and crack over time. Plastic can be unreliable—it’s difficult to install and can lift out of the ground easily, causing grass and weeds to come through the edging.

Deciding on which method or material to use for your edging is dependent on your lawn goals and willingness to maintain the edge.

How to Edge & Mulch Around A Tree

Mulching around a tree has several benefits. The mulch insulates the soil and provides a buffer from heat and cold. It retains water to help roots stay moist and keeps weeds out to avoid root competition. Mulch also may decrease soil compaction over time and reduces lawnmower damage. With so many benefits, it only makes sense to ensure your mulch stays in place around the tree. Here are the steps for mulching around a tree:

  1. Edging and mulching around a tree starts with shoveling patches of grass (make sure you don’t scrape tree roots!) within a 3-foot area for a tree up to 10 feet tall and up to 2-4 inches deep
  2. If a section is hard to dig, don’t force it! It could be a small root lying under that portion of turf
  3. Once the grass is removed, apply 2-4 inches of mulch all the way around the tree to the drip line, making sure to leave some space around the trunk.
  4. The dripline of a tree is the edge of the canopy where water would runoff. To measure the dripline, measure the diameter of the tree’s crown.

What Not To Do When Edging in Your Landscape

There are three common mistakes people make while edging a landscape. In order to be successful in your project, make sure you avoid these missteps:

  • Preparation: To avoid unexpected or last-minute changes to design, walk around your yard with a notebook and pencil to sketch out your desired configuration. Keep growing space in mind to avoid the edge getting covered by mature growth or shrubs while making your sketch.
  • Budgeting: Most edging materials are sold by the foot. Measure the distance you want to edge using the foot-to-foot technique to get an approximate measurement and help set a price point.
  • Soil preparation: Prepare supporting edge soil against unwelcome grass and weed growth through your weed deterrent of choice.

Now that you know how to edge your garden and trees, figure out which mulch works best for your garden!


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Bed Edging Techniques to Protect and Enhance the Trees on Your Property

Edging landscape beds creates a clean, defined line that is aesthetically pleasing and makes a property look well maintained. Most facility managers recognize the visual benefits of edging. But there are even more important reasons to edge, especially around trees.

Edging defines a safe zone around tree trunks. By forming and maintaining an edged bed around the base of plants, you will protect them from mechanical damage that occurs when mowers and string trimmers bump against the bark. That damage is virtually unavoidable when there is no edge around trees because landscape crews must get right up against tree trunks to trim back grass.

Mechanical damage is the No. 1 cause of tree health problems. When you protect the bark, you protect the tree.

Beyond aesthetics, here is why you should consider edging, what methods are used to create edges, how often edges should be maintained, and some solutions to common edging challenges.

Why edge landscape beds?

For property managers that are looking for ways to reduce the price of landscape services, they might view bed edging as an “extra.

When value engineering a landscape contract, you might think, “Edging is nice, but is it necessary?”

Certainly, bed edging improves the landscape appearance. But edging is about so much more than looks. Because of the tree health benefits edging provides, among other advantages, we consider this service an integral part of annual landscape maintenance.

  • Bed edging reduces material loss. You have probably seen properties where mulch from landscape beds bleeds into the lawn. When bare soil spots are left in beds, this opens up opportunities for weed penetration. (Mulch is an effective weed suppressant.) A defined edge along a landscape bed keeps mulch and landscape materials in place. (Keep in mind, if you’re replacing mulch mid-season, this adds a cost that you didn’t anticipate in the contract.)
  • Edging maintains bed shape and form. Edging prevents turf from encroaching on landscape beds. It also redefines bed lines that naturally erode over time. (This is especially the case on sloped areas where runoff can “blur the lines.”) Edging beds keeps shape and form intact for the long-term.
  • Creating edged tree rings protects plants’ trunks. If there is no tree ring around the trunk, mowers and string trimmers must get right up against its base to trim back turf. When bark is damaged, the tree is exposed and vulnerable. Protecting tree trunks from mechanical damage is nearly impossible unless there is an edged bed to act as a buffer.

Edging Methods and Maintenance

Landscape professionals use a couple of different edging methods to create defined bed lines. Spade edging is a manual process using a spade to hand-dig the bed edge.

Usually, a 3- to 4-inch edge is sufficient to gain aesthetic and landscape health benefits. Spade edging is helpful in tight spaces where there are curved bed lines, and if there is a risk of cutting other landscape material (with an edging machine).

Edges can also be defined by using an edger. This machine can reduce labor and is ideal for long, relatively straight bed lines that need redefinition.

Edges can be maintained by string trimming on a biweekly basis during the mowing season, or by using a bed redefiner as needed.

Depending on the condition of the edge and its location, it might need to be re-cut annually.

Permanent edging is also an option, and this involves creating a deep edge—usually by using the spade technique—and then installing steel, aluminum, stone, plastic or concrete edging. The cost of permanent edging depends on the material and amount of edging required.

Common Edging Challenges

Do the bed edges on your commercial property seem to vanish? Here are a few common challenges with creating defined edges. (The good news: There are solutions, so your property can gain the aesthetic and landscape health benefits of edging.)

1. Poor turf quality

A natural bed line is created by hand-digging with a spade or using a power edger. The turf’s root system is what ultimately maintains the soil form and defines the bed line. When turf is thin or in poor condition, there’s nothing to hold the soil in place. Therefore, the bed line can basically “crumble.”

Solution: Permanent bed edging that is made from steel or plastic can be appropriately installed after edging. This helps maintain the bed line. Also, a good turf health program will improve the condition of the lawn.

2. Permanent edging is incorrectly installed

Permanent edging is far more expensive than creating a natural edge using spade or mechanical edging techniques. However, once you install permanent edging (if done correctly), it needs only to be done once. If you can see the plastic or steel edging along a bed, then it is not properly installed.

Solution: Permanent edging should align with the grade of the land.

3. Hitting electrical lines

Utilities should always be marked before edging.

Solution: Call 811 BUD before edging so the the landscape professional has this information on record to reference for annual edging.

4. Steep grades

The edges on steep grades tend to “fade” faster because water runoff travels faster on slopes. This causes erosion and can wash out edges. Also, downspouts that discharge into landscape beds can speed up erosion.

Solution: Edges located on slopes will need more maintenance to keep lines clean and defined. Mechanical edging or bed redefining throughout the season will help keep the edge in place. 

Edging Protects Your Landscape Investment

The beauty of your landscape is important—and plant health is what ultimately delivers curb appeal. Edging provides instant gratification because the process redefines bed lines and creates a clean, polished look. But the long-term benefits of edging are what make a measurable impact on the health of your landscape.

Edging protects trees and prevents mulch loss, therefore reducing weed pressure in landscape beds. Edging is the only way to fully protect plant trunks from mechanical damage.  

Let’s look beyond curb appeal and talk about how edging can improve the overall condition of your landscape. Call us any time in Lexington at 859.254.0762 and Louisville at 502.264.0127.

Or, fill out this simple contact form to request a proposal and we’ll get in touch with you.

Tags: Tree and Shrub Care

How to prune fruit trees: tips for beginners

Pruning fruit trees and shrubs is one of the most important annual operations, without which no plant can grow normally, develop and give full yields.

It is necessary to prune fruit trees in order to correctly form their crown, to prevent its thickening, which interferes with the access of light and oxygen to the branches and leads to the emergence of diseases and pests.

Without pruning, the yield of both stone and pome plants drops sharply, the fruits become small and tasteless.

There are different types of pruning, some of them are too difficult for a beginner gardener, and not always necessary. In this article, we will show you how to prune fruit trees with the least amount of effort and using the simplest tool that everyone has.

We have already talked about how to prune fruit trees in our articles: How to care for cherries, How to care for pears, Frost-resistant cherries, How to grow plums.


Pruning of young plantings begins at the age of three. It is necessary for a tree to form a crown correctly and quickly. Such a formation has been carried out for several years. And here it is important not to make mistakes, since an incorrectly formed crown will be very difficult to correct in the future.

The main thing is to correctly create the frame of the future tree. As a rule, two types of pruning are used in amateur gardens: sparsely-tiered and non-tiered. The first is the simplest and most accessible for any novice gardener. It is equally good for both stone fruit and pome crops.

In the first two years, fruit trees mainly grow the root system, and the growth of the aerial part is rather small. In the third year, the intensive growth of the tree itself begins, and if you do not start shaping it, then it will turn into a long thick “whip” with weak side branches.

Pruning of young fruit trees starts from the central conductor. It is shortened to a height of 75 cm, leaving up to 10 buds on it, from which new shoots and side branches will form. Thus, the first tier is laid.

The following spring, damaged and weak branches are removed, leaving the 3 strongest. This will be the second tier. In subsequent years, the third, fourth and fifth tiers are formed in the same way.

When the tree reaches a height of four meters, cut the center conductor above the top branch to stop the growth of the tree, otherwise it will be quite difficult to care for it. Your crown has been formed.


Annual pruning of fruit trees promotes the formation of new shoots, increases the number of flower buds, relieves the crown of the tree from thickening, improves the taste of the fruit, increases yield, limits the growth of the tree and facilitates its care.

This operation is carried out in the spring - at the end of March - beginning of April, before the start of bud break.

Pruning mature plants differs significantly from shaping a young tree. As a rule, it is limited to two operations: shortening and thinning.

Shorten branches to encourage shoots and buds to grow. A cut on annual branches must be made above the bud, and on a long-term one - above one of the branches.

This operation promotes the rapid growth of shoots below the cut. These young shoots will quickly begin to grow fruit twigs.

Thinning is necessary to improve access to sunlight and air circulation inside the canopy. This contributes to the formation of large, even fruits and prevents the appearance of diseases and pests.

During thinning, cut out all branches growing inside the crown or at an acute angle to the trunk. The latter can cause winter breaks in the tree.

Before pruning, all broken, withered and weak branches are removed, and then they begin the main work.

You can prolong the life of old trees with rejuvenating pruning. It is made for trees older than 18 years. The easiest way to rejuvenate is to shorten all branches by 2/3 of the length.


For pruning, you will need a short-handled pruner, a long-handled treetop pruner and a sickle-shaped garden saw, as well as a garden pitcher for covering tree wounds.

All garden tools must be sharpened and disinfected immediately before starting work. Immediately after cutting off the branches, it is necessary to cover the cut with garden pitch.

Pome crops are pruned first, and then stone fruits.

Do not delay pruning, because after the start of sap flow, it is no longer possible to prun fruit trees. Stone fruit crops can be especially affected by this.

Pruning of fruit shrubs begins at the end of April.

Pruning fruit trees in spring - tips for beginners and beyond

Have you been looking for a scheme for pruning fruit trees in spring in detail? We have collected for you schemes and recommendations for apple, pear, cherry, plum, sweet cherry, peach and apricot in one material. Save to bookmarks!

In order for this season apple, pear, cherry and other horticultural crops to truly please you with an excellent harvest, in no case should you neglect the spring pruning of fruit trees. This procedure should be approached with caution, because it is worth overdoing it - and the tree can weaken or even die, not to mention poor fruiting or its absence.

For example, when starting the spring pruning of apple trees, it should be taken into account that about three or four dozen leaves feed only one fruit!

Timing of tree pruning in spring

An important issue in tree pruning is when to do it. If this procedure is carried out too early, while the temperatures are still low, the tree may not tolerate frost. If you tighten with pruning before the start of sap flow, the plant will "cry" for a long time.

The ideal weather for "mowing" the garden is clear, slightly frosty, with an air temperature of at least -5°C. In the middle lane, the timing of pruning trees in spring is usually limited to the period from mid-March to mid-April.

Important nuances of spring pruning of fruit trees

Many novice gardeners who pick up a pruner for the first time make the same mistakes, and failure to meet deadlines is just one of them. What is important to remember when starting spring pruning of the garden?

1. Inventory preparation. The tools you use for pruning must be sharpened and disinfected. Otherwise, you risk not only causing unnecessary injury to the tree, but also infecting the site of damage.

For better sharpening, the tool can be pre-soaked for half an hour in salt water (1 tbsp per 1 glass of water).

2. Pruning young trees. Over-pruning of non-fruit bearing trees should be avoided. The essence of the procedure should be to remove diseased, damaged, thickening crown or competing shoots with skeletal branches, as well as shortening annual growths to subordinate the branches to the central conductor.

3. Cutting technique. Shoots that you want to remove completely must be cut into a ring without leaving stumps. In order not to break off the bark when cutting a thick branch, first make a notch from the underside, and only then completely cut the branch from above.

4. Attention to the kidneys. Cut carefully so as not to accidentally hit the buds with the blade. When shortening to a kidney, the secateurs are brought in from the side of the adjacent branch, placing it at an angle of 45 degrees in the direction from the base to the top of the shoot. The cutting blade should be 1-2 mm below the base of the kidney, and the second blade should be 1-2 mm above.

Bud pruning

Apple pruning in spring

The essence of spring pruning of young apple trees is to form a symmetrical crown. The first pruning is carried out immediately after planting. The stem is shortened to a height of 80-90 cm. If there are lateral shoots, 3-5 of the strongest, directed in different directions, are selected and shortened by 1/4-1/3 of the length. If there are no side shoots, this procedure is carried out in the spring of next year.

Skeletal branches should be cut in such a way that the central conductor rises 20-25 cm above the upper ones, and the upper branches are shorter than the lower ones.

In subsequent years, the scheme for pruning apple trees in spring involves the removal of all dry, frozen, damaged shoots, all branches thickening the crown, growing towards the center. It is also important to observe the subordination of the branches and not allow the rest of the skeletal branches to be higher than the central conductor.

The basic principles of pruning apple trees are presented in the following video:

Columnar apple trees are formed vertically, respectively, and the principle of their spring pruning will be somewhat different.

Rejuvenating pruning of apple trees in spring requires special care. If you see that the skeletal branches are rotten, rotten and obviously unviable, no pruning will help save the tree, but, on the contrary, will only bring its death closer.

Pruning starts with large branches. When pruning old apple trees, it is better to shorten or remove a few large branches than many young shoots. So it will be easier for the tree to endure this painful procedure. In trees that are too tall, the central conductor is also shortened by about a third, forming a crown from side branches in subordination to it.

For more detailed instructions, look in our material How to prune an apple tree in spring - tips for beginner gardeners

Pruning a pear in spring

In fact, spring pruning of pears is little different from pruning an apple tree. The schemes for the formation of both trees are approximately the same.

The main difference is that if the branches of an apple tree are cut into a ring, then the branches of a pear tree are cut into a lateral shoot. The fact is that a strong pruning of this culture provokes excessive formation of tops.

Like an apple tree, a pear tree is cut for the first time immediately after planting: the central conductor is shortened to 80-90 cm and all side shoots of the seedling are cut off.

Starting from the second year, young pears are formed so that the tree has several tiers of 3-5 skeletal branches diverging like a fan in each, subordinate to the central conductor (they should be 20-25 cm below the central conductor).

Pruning old pears includes not only the removal of frozen, dry, damaged shoots, but the pruning of all side branches that grow vertically or inward, compete with skeletal branches.

To force a branch that has begun to grow upwards to develop horizontally, it is pruned into a strong outer lateral bud. If necessary, they also tie a branch to a peg stuck in the ground in order to bend it a little. This method is good for old pears with a dense crown, which may not survive strong anti-aging pruning.

How to do it with the least stress on the tree, see the video:

Pruning a peach in spring

It is difficult to grow a peach in the middle lane, but it is possible. One of the main stages of caring for this tree is competent pruning, in which the crown is formed in the form of a bowl with a very low trunk.

Immediately after planting, the stem is cut to a height of 20 cm above the grafting site. This is necessary so that the fruit branches are laid low. Thanks to this, sleeping buds will be covered with a layer of snow in winter.

The peculiarity of the peach tree is that it bears fruit on annual shoots. Therefore, when pruning, old branches do not need to be spared.

In colder regions, where freezing is possible, peach is recommended to be cut during flowering.

During the first "true" peach pruning in spring, young shoots are shortened to 3 buds. During the season, new shoots will grow in this place, which will bear fruit.

In subsequent years, the crown is shaped so that there are 3-5 skeletal branches on the tree. More powerful fruit-bearing shoots are shortened into replacement knots (up to about 20 cm). During the season, they will give several shoots of one-year growth, on which a crop is formed.

The skeletal branches are pruned on the bud to direct the growth of the shoot in the right direction. If you “pity” a peach and do not cut it in the spring, the crown will be exposed, and the crop will “pass” to the upper branches.

In addition, damaged, diseased, frozen branches are pruned every spring.

To make the fruits grow larger, shorten the annual growth on which they will be tied by one third.

Watch the video for details of this process:

Apricot pruning in spring

Apricot pruning in spring is slightly different from peach pruning in spring.

Immediately after planting, the central conductor is cut to a height of about 50-75 cm and all small lateral shoots are removed on the ring. The following year, 2-3 skeletal branches are selected on the tree and shortened to 20-25 cm.

ring. At the same time, the central conductor is cut so that it is 10-15 cm higher than the side branches.

In the third year of life, it is necessary to carry out spring pruning so that 3-5 skeletal branches remain in the lower tier, located at an angle of 45-60 degrees with respect to the central conductor. They are shortened to 60 cm so that new branches of the second order are "laid" at this level. The remaining shoots are cut into a ring. The central conductor should be 25 cm longer than the skeletal branches.

Shoots that are at a more obtuse angle shorten slightly less.

In the subsequent years of the tree's life, sanitary pruning is carried out in the spring: dried branches that have suffered from frost are cut off, shoots growing inside are removed to the ring. The optimal maximum height of an apricot tree is 2-2.2 m, therefore, when pruning, they try to transfer growth to lateral shoots.

Watch a video on how to do it right:

Pruning cherries in spring

There is a misconception that cherries don't need pruning at all. In reality, of course, this is not the case. It is worth skipping a few spring pruning cherries, as the shoots begin to become bare and dry, and the thickened crown will not transmit light well. Naturally, in such conditions, the fruits will shrink, and the yield will decrease.

The main principle of cherry pruning is that shoots should be thinned rather than shortened.

Cut into a ring all dry branches, as well as bare shoots. To form a spreading crown, strong shoots are shortened to a bud growing outward.

Immediately after planting, all lateral shoots are removed, and the trunk is shortened by 18-25 cm. conductor.

In the second year, 5-6 strong branches are left on the tree. All other shoots that grow at an acute angle and compete with skeletal branches and conductor are removed to the ring, leaving no stumps.

In subsequent years, cherry pruning in the spring is reduced to thinning, removal of damaged and dry branches, as well as a small pruning of fruit-bearing branches to the outer bud.

A well-formed mature cherry tree should have approximately 6-8 skeletal branches growing at an angle of at least 45 degrees to the central conductor.

For more detailed instructions on pruning this fruit crop, see our resource Pruning cherries - forming the right crown year after year.

And the video shows it more clearly:

Pruning cherries in spring

Cherries should have a compact crown. These trees bear fruit on bouquet twigs and annual shoots, therefore, without spring pruning, cherries are exposed, stretched, and bring little harvest.

Immediately after planting, the stem is shortened to 50-70 cm. If the seedling is not cut immediately and the lower tier of branches is allowed to be laid higher than at the level of 1 m, the fruiting zone will be located too high.

In the second year of the tree's life, the skeletal branches are cut to the outer bud, shortening by about a third. In this case, it is important to remove branches on the ring that compete with the central conductor, if any.

In subsequent years, the scheme for pruning sweet cherries in the spring is as follows: side shoots growing on skeletal branches must be cut to the outer bud, shortened by a third to prevent them from being exposed. Too long skeletal branches are shortened according to the same principle, placing the cut immediately above a strong side shoot.

The video shows how to do it in more detail:

Pruning plums in spring

Pruning plums in spring is similar to pruning cherries. For this crop, the very first pruning immediately after planting the plant in the garden is also crucial. If during this period you "regret" the seedling and do not shorten the stem to 75 cm, it will be very difficult to form the tree correctly, if possible, then very difficult.

In the second year of the tree's life, branches competing with the central conductor are removed, and the skeletal branches are also slightly shortened, cutting them into a bud for better branching.

In subsequent years, all shoots that thicken the crown, compete with the main branches, suffer from mechanical damage, frost or become bare are removed to the ring.

At some point, the center conductor is cut into a strong side branch, preventing the plum tree from growing above 2.

Learn more