Rein in creeping grass and straighten up bed lines with these simple steps.

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, centipede, buffalo grass, St. Augustine, and Zoysia, have a pesky tendency to spread. During the growing season, these turfs send out runners that try to expand their boundaries by creeping into flowerbeds and natural areas. One of the best ways to keep them in their place is to cut a deep trench edge using a square point shovel.

English gardeners have long used deep trench edging to shape their lawns. It gives turf a refined or manicured look, and also makes it difficult for grasses to spread into flowerbeds or shrub borders.

The tools needed to shape your lawn are a supple garden hose, a file, and a square point shovel. Use the garden hose to lay out bed lines; this will help you visualize how it will look. The hose can also act as a guide, keeping you in line as you edge with your shovel. Try to eliminate sharp angles or curves. Make smooth, wide, sweeping curves that will allow you to easily maneuver your lawnmower.

Check to make sure your shovel has a sharp blade. A shovel's edge becomes blunt with regular use. Use a steel file to sharpen a dull blade. A sharp edge allows the shovel to make clean cuts and slice through any small roots. Try to dig down 4 to 6 inches deep; then lift and remove excess grass and soil. Removed plugs of grass that still have roots may be planted in bare or thin turf areas.

When finished edging with the shovel, clean out the trench with your hands, removing any rocks, roots, or grass clippings. Dress up the clean edge with fresh mulch such as pine straw or shredded bark. This simple chore gives your grass definition and helps you reclaim your turf's boundaries. It may take a little work but will make your lawn look great.

"Edging Turf" is from the August 2001 issue of Southern Living.