One of the first things that people ask when learning to edge a lawn is whether they should edge or mow first.
Using an edger for your lawn will create a lovely finish that is very aesthetically pleasing and most professional landscape gardeners will tell you that you should edge and trim a lawn before it has been mowed. However, there is no hard and fast rule here, and how you do it will primarily be down to your preference.
In this article, we are going to be looking at how to use your lawn edge trimmer in the correct way as well as the pros and cons of edging before or after mowing.
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Things to Consider
Essentially, there is no right or wrong way to trim and edge your lawn so when you ask yourself ‘should I mow or edge first’ you must remember that ultimately, the decision is yours. However, by taking certain things into consideration, you will be much more easily able to decide where to start.
One of the first things that you should think about is how much time you have and what would be your main priority. Let’s imagine that your lawn is wildly out of control and your main priority is to get this area looking well-maintained once again.
If you are pushed for time, you might wish to mow your lawn first to get this bigger job out of the way; then if you have time, you can use your garden edger tool afterwards. If not, you can always come back to the garden a little later on.
What Type of Edger are you Using?
You might also want to think about the type of edger tool you are using since some will come with the ability to do other jobs as well. Most commonly, these multi-purpose tools will be a grass trimmer and edger as well as featuring a mini-mower. How the tool is set up may help you to decide.
In addition to this, you could consider how the edger is powered and how much physical exertion using it will require. For example, if you are using a manual edger, this is quite physically demanding, so you might decide to start by edging the lawn to get this more difficult task out of the way. In contrast, if you are using a powered grass edger, you might be able to easily whip around after you have finished mowing.
If you are familiar with your lawnmower, you will know that these devices usually have an adjustable cutting height and most homeowners will prefer a specific height over all others.
This is something that you should keep in mind because if you edge first, you must be sure that you are doing so at a height that is consistent with the mowing height.
If you do not feel confident that you can achieve this with an edger for your lawn before mowing, it might be wise to consider cutting the entire lawn first.
How Much Time do you Want to Dedicate to Cleaning?
Even when you mow the lawn using the grass collection bag, it is inevitable that some of the clippings will end up on the path, driveway and spread across the lawn. But in the main, your lawnmower will pick these up and deposit them in the grass box which you can detach and empty effortlessly.
However, it is worth considering that the order in which you tackle your garden tasks will have an impact on how easy things are to clean once everything is done.
If you don’t want a huge clean-up at the end of the day, it might be better to edge first as this will mean that the clippings end up on the lawn and can be mostly picked up by the mower.
In contrast, if you quite enjoy sweeping – and some people do, then you would be free to mow first and enjoy a lengthy clean-up when both jobs are done.
Type of Lawnmower
If you have a very large garden, you might use a ride on, or tractor mower as this will make the job far quicker than using a push along model. However, it is important to keep in mind that using these cumbersome tools will mean that you aren’t as easily able to access narrow parts of the lawn as these types of lawnmowers have very large engines.
This is worth considering because if you decide to edge and trim first, you will need to be confident that you know precisely which parts of the grass to trim to avoid having to come back to this job for a second time later in the day.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Whether you choose to mow the lawn first or use your sidewalk edger before mowing, there is no denying that there are benefits and drawbacks to both methods.
Either way will give you a professional and manicured look to the lawn, but depending on which task you complete first, you might face some problems along the way. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of doing it both ways.
You only need to look on a variety of internet forums to see garden enthusiasts raving about how edging first is the thing to do, and when we look at the many benefits of doing so, it isn’t difficult to see why.
There may be a common misconception that one should mow first because your grass edger cutter is used to create the finishing touches to your lawn, right?
This is not necessarily the case and edging the lawn before mowing can be advantageous. For example, there is no denying that edging the grass can be something of a messy task, but if you do it first, much of the debris will fall onto the lawn – this means that when you mow, the lawnmower will pick up most of this and deposit it into the collection bag for easy disposal.
But what if you use a mulching plug on your mower? You may want to return your grass clippings to the lawn to give it an essential nutrient boost, but what comes out of the edges may not be as good for your lawn. Edging the grass will yield weeds, stones and pieces of soil, none of which will provide any benefit to your grass.
Furthermore, not all of the edge clippings will fall onto the grass, many of these will end up on the surrounding pathways and your drive, so this will require more clean up. You have two options here, you might use a leaf blower to blow the clipping onto the grass ready to be collected by the mower. Alternatively, you can sweep these away and take them to the compost heap or bin.
There are many people out there who will always choose to mow their lawn before going anywhere near their garden edger tool. This is something that is down to personal choice, and doing it this way around also has pros and cons.
One of the greatest benefits of mowing your lawn before you trim the edges is that you will be able to get most of the weeds and overhanging grass with the mower. Of course, this is far quicker than trying to do this with a sidewalk edger.
Another good thing about mowing first is that you will be able to tackle one of the largest jobs in the garden and get it out of the way. This is one of the main reasons that people opt to do it this way. Once the lawn is successfully mowed, the garden can appear far tidier, and this gives you a sense of achievement. Many people see edging as adding that little something extra and doing it first won’t allow you to see much progress, which can be disheartening, especially if you have a huge garden.
As we have discussed, when you edge first, the clippings from this job will be deposited onto the lawn and can be collected by the lawnmower as it passes over them. However, when you do this the other way around, you will be left with a lot of edger clippings on the lawn, and this can be difficult to tackle. It is easy to sweep away any clippings that have found their way onto a concrete or a paved area, but removing them from the grass is slightly more challenging.
Now, you could leave them where they are, but there are several reasons why this might be inconvenient; it will look a mess, especially if there are a lot of weeds and other debris. Furthermore, if they are left on the grass, the clipping could blow around in the wind and get scattered over other parts of the garden, creating even more mess.
Some people also find that this is troublesome if they have pets as the edge clippings will easily get trodden around the garden and into the house.
Earlier on, we talked about getting your edging and mowing heights aligned, and this is far easier when you mow the lawn before you edge it. You will get a far better idea of how deep you need to go with your trimmer and edger, and this will give you a more consistent and aesthetically appealing result. However, if you have the confidence and experience to get this right by edging first, then there is no reason why you should not.
You should also be aware that the type of lawn mower you use will impact when you should mow. As we discovered earlier on, a ride on mower is great for massive lawns but will require you to know where you need to edge, otherwise, you may find yourself getting the edger and trimmer back out of the shed for a second time that day.
The most important thing to remember when deciding when to edge a lawn is that there is no right or wrong time. A lot of the decision-making should be based on your personal preference. Some people like to get the mowing out of the way first so that they can see some real progress being made, whereas others find that the convenience of edging first suits them better.
There are several pros and cons to doing things either way, but the most important thing is that at the end of your day in the garden, you have a lawn that looks well-manicured, neat and professional.