Smart Edge Design Saves You Work!

This would be an easy post to skip past – the edge? what edge?! And yet its one of those foundational concepts that if you adopt, can save you loads of work and increase the fertility and life in your soils by miles.

Planting up the outside edge of your vegie patch brings benefits galore, but today were loving it because planted edges reduce incoming grass + weeds. This barrier or ‘weed break’, slows the advance of grass. When teamed with mulched paths = a grass free zone.

Plant the densely, using tough competitive groundcovers like perennial cornflower, nasturtium, pineapple sage, flax, sorrel, lemon balm, wormwood, rengarenga, yarrow, salad burnet – whatever grows vigorously at your place.

Edge Gardens

perennial cornflower, renga renga, cornflowers and yarrow

These edge gardens are multi purpose. They:

  • provide a tonne of ingredient for mulch and compost.
  • feed the bees and beneficials
  • are home to a diversity of perennial roots that strengthen and stablise soil
  • are a handy dandy place to rot down big chunky prunings like corn stalks and sunflowers
  • provide herbs for teas, medicine and eating
  • are the perfect spot for perennial vegetables, fruits + flowers 

Some Examples:

useful edges

Along the edge where the berryhouse joins the vegie patch is a diversity of plants that greatly reduce the weeds along this edge. Every now and then these companion plants get a bit exuberant and block the path, so I harvest them for mulch or compost.

mulch harvest

Hard Edges + Trees

Emerald Gem flaxes, daylillies, peach and maple create an easycare screen
Daylillies, flax, comfrey, peppermint geranium, lemon balm and dahlias beneath peaches and a maple. Can easily be mowed around.

Where hard edges like fences and sheds meet lawn, a high maintenance area (mower + weedeater/ edging tool) is born. Reduce your workload by creating a soft planted edge that the mower can go right up to.

Sleepers, bricks and stones that meet lawn are lots of extra work as well because they harbour the roots of hard to get rid of weeds and require the same 2 step process as above. Remove the hard edges and plant it up instead.

Another time consuming, extra work edge is created when trees are planted in lawn. Fill the space beneath the trees with companion plants all the way out to the dripline or beyond. Grow whatever it is the tree (or you) need and eliminate the job of weeding (or god forbid spraying) the base of your trees.


  1. Jolene Tillier says

    Hi Kath,I have a large open bare area under some natives, couple of Kowhai trees and a Japanese Empress tree, what could I plant under it all to stop weeds and make it more enjoyable to look at? Many thanks Jolene

    • Evergreen groundcovers are the main go to here. Annuals or winter dormant perennials expose the soil to sunlight = weeds! So now it depends on the soil + weeds you’ve got as to what you use. My favourites for the edges are flax like plants because the soft drooping edge can be mowed under and they do an awesome job of beating the weeds out. Plants like Emerald Gem cookianum flax 1x1m and renga rengas 30×30 are a good example of what I’m talking about. Use them against the lawn and a splash of colour + funk behind – could be anything from lavendar to daylillies to dahlias …

  2. Bronwyn Ward says

    Hey Kath, I’ve have a big ugly concrete crib retaining wall on my south boundary (facing north). Half of it gets heaps of sun, the other half as the house shading it. I’d like to plant in it but am struggling to get anything to survive. (It used to have ivy in it, now THAT did really well). I’ve got mint surviving but it needs lots of water, ajuga (for hte bees, a ground cover) in the shady parts (behind my feijoas) and thyme. But grasses have failed, strawberries don’t survive unless watered twice a day, ….Any suggestions? Its 1.5m high, down to about 1m at hte lowest point, so there is lots of space….I think over time I can manage the partially shaded bit but any other ideas? thanks!

    • oh wow super tricky to do this well remotely Bronwyn – even with all that description! If you are interested in a 30min phone consult to workshop it then be in touch. best Kath

  3. Excellent! I don’t accept docks or buttercup in this pile (or anywhere for that matter) – but anything else goes I reckon.

  4. Hi Kath
    I brought a pear tree from mitre 10 and had planted it around 3 months ago. It has plenty leaves now so I was wondering if it was too late to move it now as I realize that it’s alot closer to the fence than I thought.
    Thank you

    • Probably best to wait until late Autumn/ early winter to move it now. Unless you live somewhere cool and with great soil and will keep up with regular watering in which case you could move it now. Bit hard to say remotely 🙂