Come learn how to achieve professional-looking results when doing your own lawn maintenance.
This post, Trim and Edge Your Yard Like a Pro, is made in partnership with STIHL. All opinions (and yard work) are my own.
Benefits of doing your own lawn maintenance:
- Being outside, enjoying the weather, possibly getting some added vitamin D!
- Seeing immediate results when you’re done.
- Using the time to “read” or just get thinking. I’ve been listening to an uplifting, motivational, or thought provoking audiobook or podcast while I work.
- Not having to pay someone.
- Getting physical exercise.
Learning to trim, edge and cleanup after as part of your lawn maintanence routine is the difference between an okay job mowing and a clean, beautiful yard. I asked my hubby to help tutor me in the ways of lawn maintenance. He had a lawn care business in college and worked for a service through high school, so he’s got skills!
4-Step Lawn Maintenance Routine for a Professional-Looking Result
- Edge along the concrete, brick surfaces, where the grass would start to creep over horizontally or garden bed and tree ring edges.
- Mow and bag the grass.
- Trim the extra tall grass along the edges of things, that the mower couldn’t get.
- Blow off any loose dirt or grass clippings back onto the grass, from the mower, trimmer and edger.
Tools for best lawn maintenance:
You can find your local Stihl dealer here.
- Stihl FC 56 C-E gas-powered edger
- Stihl BGA 85 battery-powered blower
- Stihl FSA 65 battery-powered string trimmer
The ease of the battery-powered tools with the STIHL Lightning Battery System® has me so happy! With gas-powered tools, I needed help to get the tools started, but now I can do it! (The edger is gas-powered, but I’m working on it!)
Lawn Maintenance: 9 Tips for using a String Trimmer
Trimming gives your lawn a nice clean look, like just after getting a new haircut. Think of mowing the yard without trimming as a mullet… but it is 2018 and the 80’s called and they want their hairstyles back… so give that lawn a trim!
Tip #1: Wear safety glasses.
Always wear safety glasses when trimming. A friend used my trimmer once and I told him to be sure to wear safety glasses. When he returned the trimmer he said, “I should have worn the safety glasses because a rock flew up and hit me in the eye.” Protect your eyes – wear the glasses. You will thank me later.
Tip #2: Mow the lawn first.
The lawn mower will get the bulk of the grass and will give you a reference point for the height the grass should be. Mow as much as you can, remembering there are areas the mower won’t get, such as under shrubs, around play equipment or trees, and up against the fence or walls.
Tip #3: Hold the trimmer level with the grass.
I am right-handed so I hold the trimmer trigger with my right hand and tend to walk to the right as I trim around the yard. Hold the trimmer level to the grass so you won’t cut too deeply into the grass. This is where mowing first comes in really handy because you can level your trimmer with the cut grass and avoid over-cutting the grass which createsg dried-up dead spots on the edges.
Tip #4: Hold the string trimmer so it discharges cut grass back onto the grass.
Save yourself some clean-up time: when trimming around hardscape (think sidewalks, driveways, rock mulch) configure the guard cover to send the grass trimmings onto the lawn.
Tip #5: Work slow and steady.
Especially around trees and plants, keep your work slow and steady for an even result and for the safety of the rest of your landscaping. Don’t cut into the bark of plants or trees, as this may introduce disease or bugs into the tree and can ultimately kill or weaken your trees. To keep this from happening, create a mulch-covered tree ring to protect the trees (more about this below).
Tip #6: Tap the trimmer on the ground to extend the nylon string.
When you see the trimmer isn’t cutting as well or as widely, tap it on the ground to extend the string. (String feed varies with trimmer type. Check your owner’s manual.)
Tip #7: Plan your way around the yard.
To help save time and make sure all the edges get trimmed, start trimming where you want to end up, so you will end up where you started. Start like you are tracing an outline around the lawn. If you pass a tree or island/planter bed that needs trimming, walk to it and trim around it, then walk back to where you left off of your outline. This is the most efficient method and will also help ensure you don’t miss any spots. When we trim our yard, we start in the front yard, go around the house, through the gate to the back yard, finish the backyard, then come back through the same gate into the front yard to finish the front yard.
Tip #8: Trim the cracks that are full of weeds or unwanted grass.
In cracks or joints, you might get weeds growing through. Trim them at a slight angle as close to the concrete as possible. After the trimming you can pour straight (and super cheap) vinegar as a weed killer to prevent them from growing back. This is an organic, cheap and easily available weed killer, and you can even have the kids help with this part if you want.
Tip #9: Keep a safe distance
Be sure to keep your feet and hands away from the string at all times. Keep a safe distance away from other people, I aim for 50’ or more. Be really careful around windows and vehicles.
Lawn Maintenance: 9 Tips and Uses for an Edger
An edger cuts grass vertically along the edges of the patios, paths, curbs, sidewalks or driveways. This part of lawn maintenance really solidifies the professional look.
Tip #1: Wear safety glasses while edging your yard.
Always wear safety glasses. The edger blade spins at a really fast rate which kicks up a lot of dirt and rocks. There is a guard, but still, be safe rather than sorry!
Tip #2: Align the edger next to the hard surface.
Align the cutting blade of the edger with the edge of the grass. Pull the trigger and the blade will start spinning. Start with the blade spinning in the grass at the edge of the concrete or hard surface. You will feel the blade cutting through the dirt. As it’s spinning, you can let it just touch the edge of the hard surface you are edging against. Stand on the left and start walking forward along the edge.
Tip #3: Move the edger back and forth.
As you edge, move the edger forward and back to get a nice clean cut. Be aware that your first edging may require a bit more cleanup than subsequent edgings. It is best to take care of this early each season. Upkeep on the edges will become easier and faster as the season progresses.
Tip #4: Edge often.
The more often you edge the lawn, the easier it is to do and the faster the job goes. Most of the time you can edge every other time you mow, but if you never or rarely edge, the grass will grow out over the concrete, looking shaggy and shrinking your walking space. Edging often is well worth your time!
Tip #5: Adjust the depth of the cut and pay attention to your blade
Cut down at least ½” past the edge of the surface you are trimming. Depending on your type of edger, you can adjust the depth of the cut before edging your yard. As you use the edger, the blade will get worn and be smaller, so you will have to adjust the depth. Remember that, after time, the edger blade will need to be replaced. One blade may last all season for a small yard edged every other week. Larger yards or edging more often will require a blade change sooner.
Tip #6: Edge first, if you prefer.
This may actually sound like we are going against everything we’ve talked about, but edging your yard BEFORE mowing may actually save you some time. By edging first, you will be able to use the mower to help clean up the cut grass and extra dirt. It will make for less to clean up in end!
Tip #7: Edge around trees to create tree rings.
If you don’t have tree rings, you can easily create one with an edger. Draw a ring around the tree at least 12” from the tree trunk with landscape paint (optional) then use an edger to cut along the line. Dig out all the grass in the ring and fill it with mulch. This will keep your tree a safe distance from the string trimmer or edger, preventing any damage to the tree bark.
Tip #8: Edge around planter beds.
When edging your yard, use an edger to define the planter bed edge from the grass. You do not need to install a hardscape edging system to keep your beds looking beautiful. Remove any unwanted grass and edge your yard each week to keep it nice and clean.
Tip #9: Use the proper fuel to oil ratio.
This is especially important to extend the life of your gas-powered engines. Fill the tank with the proper fuel. This Stihl model that we are using uses a gas oil mix of 50:1. We purchased the fuel at the hardware store because it has the proper mixture and a long shelf life. Also, be aware that gas you buy at the gas station contains ethanol that will junk up your equipment; the proper fuel mixtures at the hardware store are ethanol free. You will have fewer maintenance issues down the road if you use the right fuel every time.
Lawn Maintenance: Using your Blower
Now that everything is done, blow all the dirt and grass clippings all the way back onto the lawn. Be careful to specifically clean off that brand new edge. If you only blow the trimmings into the new cut edges of the grass (against the hard surfaces), the build up of soil and debris will allows the grass to grow onto the surface!
Now you can enjoy the beautiful clean look of your yard.
What tools do you like to use for your lawn maintenance? Click here to find your local Stihl dealer.
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By the way, the blower is totally awesome for being fanned when you are done!
I’d like to thank Stihl for not only partnering with me on this post but for being part of my family since I was a child! We truly love this company! My dad was a chainsaw woodcarver growing up… and just check out this family picture all donning our orange Stihl shirts…(I’m the youngest on the end!!)