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There are many ways to line garden features, but metal garden edging ideas have to be some of the most stylish. As with all varieties of edging, they instantly smarten up a space and help to keep things in their proper place – but they also offer an essence of industrial chic that is bang on-trend.
Corten steel, in particular, is having a real moment right now when it comes to landscaping ideas. And, we expect this to stick around for a good while. But there are other options when it comes to this robust material, including shiny copper and powder-coated looks.
And despite what you might think, you don't have to have a super-contemporary space to make this design work. As you'll soon see, metal garden edging ideas are surprisingly versatile, complementing all manner of garden themes.
We've gathered together some of our top metal garden edging ideas to demonstrate how much they can offer to a space. From flowerbed borders to chic lawn surroundings and more – you'll be sure to find something to inspire you for your own plot.
1. Line statement borders with Corten steel
When you look at a set-up like this, it's easy to see why Corten steel has taken garden design by storm. It's a great choice for garden edging ideas due to its resilient nature and warm tones.
If you're wondering what exactly it is (and are feeling dubious about its rusted appearance), then let us explain. Basically, Corten steel's surface doesn't corrode in the atmosphere – instead it oxidizes to form a beneficially protective layer rather than a damaging layer of rust. This means that it can hold up against the elements for many years and is fantastically low-maintenance.
We love how it's been used to define sweeping garden path ideas against billowing borders in this scene. And, the contrast in colors only adds to the appeal.
2. Toughen up wild planting
If you want to give your flowerbed ideas a bit more 'edge' (both literally and figuratively) then metal is a good solution.
A sturdy style to border raised beds, as seen here, offers all the industrial vibes whilst bringing the scene up closer to eye level. And, it works well when juxtaposed against wilder planting, offering a stark contrast that feels fuss-free and contemporary.
Pair with galvanized planters for a sense of cohesion – you can find some lovely styles in our garden planter ideas feature.
3. Opt for powder-coated steel for a polished look
Metal edging isn't just for bordering beds, it can be a great accompaniment to patio ideas too. This plot by Your Garden Design (opens in new tab) uses powder-coated steel in a cool grey, which ties together beautifully with the paving, planters, pergola and luxe furniture.
Although subtle, it neatly defines the sunken seating space and nearby flowerbed from the rest of the plot, helping to create a clean and streamlined appearance. We also love how the accents of timber on the pergola roof and table add a touch of warmth to the scene, balancing out all the chic monochrome tones.
4. Contrast Corten against pale paving
A small stream of water is a lovely approach to garden divider ideas, or simply as a soothing point of interest. And, when lined with small stones and pretty planting, it can blend into a plot in a very organic way. Dense borders full of textural foliage around the perimeter of a garden can add to the natural, almost jungle-like vibe.
However, if you bring sleek paving and metal garden edging ideas into the mix, then a sense of balance is brought to the scene. The result? A look that feels up-to-date yet still evokes the essence of a natural landscape.
5. Make steps more interesting
If you're looking for new garden steps ideas, then how about something like this as a solution? It's certainly not your usual run-of-the-mill set of stairs, demonstrating how steps can be stylish as well as practical.
We like how they slightly offset one another in a pleasingly irregular and architectural layout. The gravel provides a sturdy base underfoot, whilst Corten edging offers a striking contrast – its patina setting an old-world vibe.
Want to recreate the look? Take a cue from the planting arrangments, too. Small ferns and tufts of ornamental grasses look fantastic dotted around the scene, softening the overall style.
6. Try an aluminium and composite combo
Metal can be used for lawn edging ideas, too – as shown in this scene. The ornate design adds a ton of personality to the space, giving the border a modern look which works well alongside the minimal planting design behind.
Although it may look it, this design isn't 100% metal. The panels themselves are in fact made from a composite, eco-friendly material, which is an easy choice for a low-maintenance and durable approach. The posts, however, are made from high-grade aluminium which is powder-coated, to ensure it won't corrode in even the worst weather conditions.
As Dayna Taylor of Charles & Ivy (opens in new tab) comments, 'Fence screens are a great option for garden edging as you can choose a design to complement your space, whilst also retaining a chic and tasteful look. We'd recommend a 30cm [12in] height to make enough of a partition whilst also remaining elegant and subtle.'
7. Add definition with copper
Without the metal edging, this levelled garden would lean very much on the rustic side of design. However, the sweeps of shining copper offer modern definition, whilst lining a cool perimeter of water.
It's a simple way to make an impact, especially when paired with furnishings in a matching material. If you don't fancy metal stools, think about light fixings or even copper-colored planters.
And, although this style is matched with rocky textures, we think it would look just as striking against sleek porcelain pavers in a pale hue. Our patio paving ideas feature has more stunning designs.
8. Line a pond
Corten steel can also be used to edge garden pond ideas, as shown in this look. The shallow, circular pool makes a striking feature surrounded by small brick pavers. And, we love how the pebbles used to line the bottom complement the warm-toned metal.
However, don't be tempted to add fish to your relaxing pool if you take the Corten steel approach – the surface layer can turn the water acidic over time which unfortunately can be harmful to them.
9. Try something ornate
If you prefer a more classic look, then a traditional ironwork design may be the way forward. This design is timeless and a lovely way to frame flowerbeds.
Pair with the best cottage garden plants for a romantic finish, or if you're looking for something a little more formal, then use to complement topiary or ornamental grasses. You could also use a look like this to line pathways for an elevated result.
Raised garden bed ideas can be given a whole new sense of style when designed with metal edges. Here, the steel boxes are made from strurdy 1/4in thick Corten weathering steel that was fabricated off-site, as explains Joseph Huettl of Huettl Landscape Architecture (opens in new tab). We love the structured look.
This scene also demonstrates how metal garden edging ideas can be used to define levels. The bocce court edge uses 3/16in mild steel screwed to steel concrete stakes, Joseph adds.
What are the pros and cons of metal garden edging?
Although there are plenty of pros when it comes to metal garden edging ideas, there are a few cons to consider, too. Samantha Jones from MyJobQuote (opens in new tab) explains.
'Metal garden edging boasts extensive durability,' she says. 'Therefore it will last a significant amount of time. You also do not have to worry about metal edging cracking, chipping or rotting, and it is also highly weather resistant.
'Another advantage of metal edging is that it is basically maintenance-free,' Samantha continues. 'So, it does not need to be looked after at any point, as long as you choose treated steel for your edging.'
On the flip side, 'If you opt for untreated steel, your metal edging may rust, especially if it comes into contact with regular rainfall,' she says. Unfortunately, even powder-coated edging can be prone to flaking and then rusting over time. However, with some designs, such as Corten steel, you won't need to worry about this.
What's more, some designs, especially the more practical, basic styles, may not be the most decorative option for your plot. However, as you have now seen from the images above, there are plenty of stylish looks available. Alternatively, our modern edging ideas have other designs that may get you inspired.
Paul McFadyen, Managing Director at metals4U (opens in new tab) provides insight on the different materials you can use for metal edging and which could be suitable for your garden needs.
'It's important to understand what type of metals are best suited for metal edging and your styling preferences,' he says.
'Steel is one of the strongest choices, as it holds shape over a long period of time and has slow corrosion rates, so it can withstand strong weather conditions. It also is heavier and thicker so it provides a sturdy separator to different areas of the garden.
'The only thing to note with steel is that if left untreated for long periods of time then the edging can begin to rust, so it's important to treat it with the right protective metal sprays which are for outdoor use.'
Paul continues: 'However, Corten steel changes color naturally due to atmospheric conditions and needs no further protective treatments; this grade of steel is also often referred to as "weathering steel". The rich orange and brown patina of weathering steel makes it a popular choice for outdoor applications.'
Another suitable material is heavy gauge aluminium, Paul says. The reason this metal is useful in the garden is that it doesn't rust, and also looks very sleek, which maintains a pleasing aesthetic. 'It is not quite a strong as steel so it does depend on what your preference is for the usage or appearance.'
In terms of copper edging in your garden design ideas, Paul explains how it's a strong heat conductor, so can become hot in the sun and become a hazard when touched. 'However, copper is used by many keen gardeners as a weapon in the arsenal against slug and snail infestation,' he adds. 'The copper ions interact with the proteins, glycoproteins and metal ions present in slug and snail slime – as the unwelcome pests come into contact with copper it sends an electro-neural stimulus that feels like a small electric shock. Copper does not harm them but repels them as they avoid crossing the copper boundaries.' We've got more pest control tips in our guides on how to get rid of aphids and how to get rid of carpenter bees.
'Another pleasing effect of copper is that it oxidizes much quicker than other metals and can turn interesting shades of blue and green patina when left outdoors untreated. If you do not want external copper to oxidize, it can be easily lacquered to preserve the original color.
'Lastly, it's important to note that metals won't have a negative impact on the soil, so your plants won't be affected by the elements within metals,' Paul adds. 'But, do keep in mind that with anything outdoors, it can corrode over time and must be kept neat so that rust flakes don't fall into the plants.'