Features - 2012 Profit Boost Guide

This service gives clients a cleaner looking landscape and companies less upkeep.

March 23, 2012
Carolyn LaWell

Kirk Vandenberg tries to design edging into every project. Here’s why – he says edging products are a resource that’s readily available, it makes the landscape’s lines clean and it means less maintenance in the long run.

“Edging is what I would consider something that is incredibly helpful but every budget doesn’t allow for it,” says Vandenberg, a landscape designer and salesman for Katerberg VerHage. “In most instances I will design landscape edging in, and I primarily use aluminum edging.”

Why aluminum edging? In recent years, aluminum edging technology has improved, Vandenberg says. The shape holds better, it blends in with the landscape better and the material stays in the ground better. Previous technology would push up out of the ground when it would frost, a problem for Katerberg VerHage, which is based in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Vandenberg says he designs edging into both residential and commercial projects because, in the end, it saves time and headaches. “It helps to minimize maintenance when you do have your aluminum edging in a project,” he says. “Otherwise, every year you have to trim out your beds to make sure they’re the right size. Where with the aluminum edging, typically you can just refresh the backside and do some more minor maintenance to your bed lines.”

However, it’s not a service every client can afford. The actual cost of edging varies based on soil type, construction or retrofit, color, shape and thickness, Vandenberg says. “If I were to throw a blanket of aluminum edging installation in a typical situation, it’s going to usually be roughly $5.75-to $6.25-lineal-foot installed,” he says.

And on the contractor side, it’s not highly profitable, Vandenberg says. He can’t put a number on how profitable the service actually is for the company because that depends on those variables mentioned before. McDonnell Landscape is a commercial landscape contractor, and it mainly uses edging products to separate either lawn areas and planting beds or gravel and soil areas on green roofs.

The Brookeville, Md.-based company sees about a 7 percent net profit off edging, says Jon Fritz, vice president.

If a project calls for edging, it’s already in the blueprints from the landscape architect, Fritz says. But nowadays, because of costs, many commercial projects are sticking to the natural look. “If you just have a landscape bed and then sod, you just leave a naturalized edge,” he says. “It’s only when you get into stuff like structure or oriental gardens would be when you use edging.”

One of the main times McDonnell Landscape uses edging is for drip edges. “We put gravel edges around buildings. They’re called drip edges,” Fritz says. “It’s like a foot of gravel along the edge so that water, when it comes off the roof, doesn’t splatter mud all against the building.”

While edging might not fit in everyone’s budget these days, one of the main selling points Vandenberg uses is that it’s not something that needs to be replaced often, he says.

If a client still isn’t biting or just can’t afford it, Vandenberg tells them they can always install it later.

“There is a little extra incurred cost involved when I retrofit aluminum edging, but if the budget doesn’t allow for it now, it is something that can be deferred,” he says.

“And most often we do it later, and we get great results. People say, ‘Oh, it’s so much nicer.’”


The author is an associate editor at Lawn & Landscape. She can be reached at clawell@gie.net.