When it comes to edging your lawn with a tool made just for the purpose, one of the first questions that come to mind for many people is whether you should pull or push the edger.
Does it actually make a difference or can you go in any direction?
Powered edgers are usually made to be pushed along and on most machines, the rotation of the blade will help pull it forward. Manual tools with a static blade are pushed vertically into the ground but rotary hand tools can be used in a backward and forward motion to do the job.
In this article, I will look at why pushing most edgers is the best technique and things to watch out for to achieve a professional finish.
Pulling vs. Pushing An Edger
Lawn edging is the process of creating a clean, sharp line between the grass and other surfaces, such as flower beds, walkways, or driveways.
The reason many gardeners do this is to create a well-defined border that both enhances the overall appearance of your lawn and also prevents grass from encroaching onto areas where you don’t want it such as paths and sidewalks.
Now that we understand why edging is a good idea, we can address the main question: should you pull or push an edger? The answer depends on the type of edger you are using and your personal preference.
With manual step edgers like a spade or half-moon blade, there is not much choice but to push it into the ground vertically as you move along.
When using manual rotary edgers, on the other hand, most people find it easier to push the tool into the soil and then pull it towards themselves to cut through the grass and create a clean edge.
This method allows for better control, especially when working around curves. However, some users may prefer to push the edger away from themselves, which can be more comfortable when working on straight edges.
Usually, you will find yourself both pushing and pulling a rotary tool as you go along for the most efficient cut.
Powered Rotary Edgers
With both manual and gas-powered rotary edgers, the general technique is to push the tool forward as the blade rotates, cutting a clean edge along the border.
It is essential to maintain a steady pace and avoid forcing the tool, as this can result in an uneven edge. Just let the blade do all the work.
Generally, the blade rotates in such a way as to pull the edger forward, throwing debris behind it so that you can control where it goes. However, this does mean that you will be treading on clippings, stones, etc. that it throws up.
When using a string trimmer for edging, the best approach is to hold the tool at an angle, with the string spinning vertically. Walk slowly forward while maintaining the correct angle to cut a clean edge.
Some trimmers come with an edging guide, making this process easier. This is a very useful feature to have with this type of tool so is well worth looking out for when purchasing one.
Be careful to watch where the debris is being thrown as there is often no guard to stop it from flying in all directions using a trimmer this way. Needless to say, you should always wear eye protection while doing this.
Push vs. Pull: Comparing The Pros And Cons Of Each Edging Technique
To help you make an informed choice when deciding whether to push or pull your edger, here are some of the main pros and cons of each technique:
Pushing An Edger
- Better control: Pushing an edger, especially a rotary edger, allows for better control and precision in maintaining a straight line along the edge of your lawn.
- Natural movement: Pushing an edger often feels more natural and comfortable for many users, as it aligns with the forward motion of walking.
- Efficiency: For powered rotary edgers, pushing the tool allows the rotating blade to cut through the soil more effectively, making the process faster and more efficient.
- Easier to see obstacles: When moving forward, you can look ahead and see any obstacles or hazards in the way and avoid them.
- Limited maneuverability: Pushing an edger can make it more challenging to navigate tight corners or curved edges in your lawn.
- Strain: Constantly pushing an edger, particularly a manual one, may cause strain on your back and shoulders over time.
Pulling An Edger
- Easier to edge curves: Pulling an edger towards you can provide better control when working around curves or irregularly shaped borders, as it allows for more precise adjustments to the tool’s path.
- Reduces strain: Pulling a manual edger can help distribute the workload more evenly across your body, reducing the strain on specific muscle groups.
- Slower pace: Pulling an edger can be slower than pushing, as you need to reposition yourself and the tool more frequently.
- Less stability: Pulling an edger can make it more difficult to maintain a straight line, especially with manual edgers, as the tool may wobble or shift during the pulling motion.
- Safety concerns: When walking backward it will be more difficult to spot any hazards or obstacles. You will need to take extra care not to trip or stumble over any curbs, roots, or stone features for example. It is especially ill-advised to use an edger in this way while working on wet grass.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and that you now know that the choice between pushing and pulling an edger ultimately depends on your personal preferences, the type of edger you’re using, and the specific challenges of your lawn.
By considering the pros and cons of each technique, you can determine which method works best for you and your lawn maintenance needs.
Try experimenting with both pushing and pulling techniques to find the approach that delivers the best results and maximizes your comfort while edging. Just be mindful of any safety concerns, especially when pulling an edger and walking backward.