The best manual lawn edger

Bob Beacham

A manual lawn edger may be a lightweight, easy-to-use tool but it's still a good idea to wear sturdy boots and work gloves. Lawn and garden edges could conceal sharp stones, broken glass, etc.

A manual lawn edger may take a little more physical effort than a powered device, but it offers two major benefits: The exercise is good for you, and because the only energy used is your own, it’s also good for the planet.

We’ve been checking out all the current options so we can help you pick the best manual lawn edger for your yard. Among our recommendations, top spot goes to the Radius Garden Root Slayer Edger. It cuts through sod and even roots with equal ease.

What to know before you buy a manual lawn edger

You have two main options when it comes to choosing the best manual edger: an upright model with a blade, shaft and handle (basically like a garden spade), or a rotary edger. The latter uses the same principle as motorized models — with a spinning, segmented blade — but is push-powered instead.

Upright lawn edgers have either T-shaped or ring handles. They don’t need a great deal of pressure applied, so this is really a matter of personal taste. The blade is sometimes a plain semicircle, but more regularly has a toothed edge for better cutting. Some have a sharpened, cutout at the bottom intended for chopping through roots.

Rotary lawn edgers have a guide wheel, usually plastic, and generally some form of star-shaped blade, presenting multiple cutting edges as it is driven along. In theory they are much faster than the upright model, which has to be reinserted every few inches. In practice rotary models are great for regular maintenance but aren’t good at cutting thick sod so aren’t practical for creating new edges.

Manual lawn edger features

Whichever model you choose, strength and durability are the primary concerns.

With upright tools, shafts are sometimes wood, which looks and feels good but isn’t as durable as steel. Steel shafts are much stronger and will last almost indefinitely as long as they are protected from rust. Powder coating is a popular, low-cost solution that may also be used on blades. Resin can be used on shaft and handles and is equally protective but is not suitable for blades because the constant abrasion would wear it away.

Blades themselves come in a variety of shapes. On upright models toothed designs providing better cutting and less tearing through grass. Foot plates on top of the blade allow for extra force to be exerted. The teeth on rotary models are seldom as sharp because the machine relies more on rotational speed.

In either case it’s a good idea to check blade thickness. It needs to be thick enough to be rigid. Too thin and it will deflect, giving poor accuracy and an uneven edge.

Manual lawn edger cost

Most of these tools offer great value. The cheapest lawn edger we found was just under $30 and the vast majority are under $50. That’s not a lot of money for a tool that should give years of reliable service. Good rotary manual lawn edgers might be $55 or $60.

Manual lawn edger FAQ

When is the best time to edge my lawn?

A. In terms of season, right along when you mow. In terms of how often, about once a month is good — though it’s a good idea to avoid lawn edges if the ground is very wet so you don’t cause damage.

How do I look after my manual lawn edger?

A. Give it a clean and wipe it dry straight after use. It only takes a couple minutes and will help prevent corrosion. If it has moving parts use a little light oil to lubricate them following manufacturer’s instructions. On some, the blade will need to be sharpened occasionally.

Which manual lawn edger should I get?

Best of the best manual lawn edger

Radius Garden Root Slayer Edger: available at Amazon

Our take: A high-quality, durable tool designed for efficient cutting through all lawn and border materials.

What we like: Strong steel blade with sharp cutting edges and tough, rust-resistant powder coating. Resin-encased shaft and handle with comfortable non-latex grip. Lifetime guarantee.

What we dislike: Very little. Some feel the foot plates could be wider.

Best bang for your buck manual lawn edger

Ames Saw-Tooth Border Edger: available at Amazon

Our take: Low cost, easy-to-use tool for keeping lawn and path edges neat and tidy.

What we like: Durable welded-steel construction with plastic-covered handles for comfort and improved grip. Toothed edge for better cutting. Foot plates for consistent depth. Reasonable price.

What we dislike: Foot plates are a bit narrow. Blade and handle alignment is occasionally off.

Honorable mention manual lawn edger

Truper Tru Tough Rotary Lawn Edger: available at Amazon

Our take: Provides a quick and easy way to keep manicured edges in peak condition.

What we like: Lacquered ash handle feels nice in the hand. Dual plastic wheels offer good traction and balance. Steel components have a rust-resistant finish. Ten-year warranty.

What we dislike: It takes some practice to become proficient. Cutting could be cleaner.

Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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