Using a Garden Bed Edger or Redefiner for Landscape Borders

ECHO BRD-280 Bed Redefiner

Do you use a garden bed edger or redefiner for landscape borders? We talk about the differences and how using one or the other can help you achieve great results. These tools come in handy when working to button things up during the slower season.

Background on Using a Garden Bed Edger

To begin with, these tools find their home when maintaining flower beds or landscaping beds. You may find these in the middle of a lawn or bordering a home or structure. You probably didn’t need that explanation, but it’s free!

Many of these beds have borders made from brick, concrete, timbers, or even metal/plastic edging. In this case, you typically don’t need a bed edger or redefiner. A typical string trimmer can clean up the mess along these edged borders.

ECHO BRD-280 Bed Redefiner
ECHO BRD-280 Bed Edger and Redefiner

For those beds which have no border, this is where we encounter grass or weed encroachment on the flower beds. To clean up these edges and bring them back to the point to be manicured or maintained, a bed redefiner is used. A bed edger will work fine too. This brings us to the next section…

Bed Edger or Redefiner – What’s the Difference?

BlueBird BedBug Bed Edger
BlueBird BedBug Bed Edger

Some major differences in the bed redefiner and bed edger are pretty apparent. A bed redefiner is a handheld tool that works much like a string trimmer or edger. These can be standalone units, or they may be attachments that go on a powerhead. Echo and Stihl both make these bed redefiners, although some differences occur in blade geometry.

The bed edger is more of a walk-behind unit that sits on 4 wheels (typically) and stands on its own. Brown and Bluebird are a couple of well-known bed edger manufacturers. Bed redefiners will run in the hundreds of dollars ($350-$600), while bed edgers cost anywhere between $2,500 and $3,200. You have quite a big difference in price.

If the beds have been defined in the past (there’s actually an existing bed), then the bed redefiner can be a great choice. However, if you’re cutting in a new bed, then the bed edger is the way to go; this is too much work for a handheld redefiner. Many lawn pros even swear by the bed edger for redefining the beds as well, but others would consider this a little overkill.

Soil and Bed Composition

Something else that may drive you towards the more expensive solution of a bed edger is the soil composition in your area. Less powerful handheld bed redefiners are less effective in rocky terrain. In addition to rocks, areas with lots of clay can create more work on the lighter tools as well.

Bed redefiners still may be an option, due to being less expensive, but this is something to definitely take note of. The bed edgers offer more power to tear through the clay and move it away from the rocks.

Bed Edger vs Bed Redefiner Blades

The ECHO bed redefiner uses a blade they call the Claw, and the picture below shows why. This claw/blade includes 6 carbide tips that handle the dirty work. The beveled arrangement of the cutting fingers on the claw leaves a ramp on the bed edge. The cut from the claw is lowest at the bed edge (grass edge), which becomes more shallow as it moves further into the bed. Echo’s claw does seem to move a lot of material and actually re-define the bed, but it requires more torque to spin the heavier blade.

ECHO BRD-280 Claw Redefiner Blade
The ECHO Claw bed redefiner uses large carbide-tipped blades.

Stihl takes a more conventional approach to their bed redefiner, as their blade looks more like a bent edger blade. It almost looks like a mulching-edger blade. This style blade requires more torque/power than a straight edger blade, however, it takes less power than the claw style.

STIHL Redefiner Blade
STIHL Bed Redefiner Blade – notice the curved profile.

Our Thoughts

STIHL FB131 Bed Redefiner

Your needs should determine which redefiner blade geometry you need. In either case, paying several thousand dollars for a bed edger is a pretty healthy investment. This investment will probably pay back quickly to those that do a lot of actual landscaping and flower beds.

For the typical lawn pro who makes a living cutting grass and trimming, the bed redefiner remains the more economical choice. Keep in mind that value involves more than just the price.

In Florida, most of our soil is not really soil. It’s more sand, so a bed redefiner works pretty well. Getting into the Northeast and West, more rocky terrain might make this job a little tougher on the bed redefiner. In areas consisting of more clay, the bed edger again makes more sense.

Money in the Slow Times

Regardless of your choice in the type of equipment for edging – Bed Redefiner vs Bed Edger – this may be great work for the slower season. Sure, part of the country lies under snow, but much of it gets little to no snow at all. In these places, finding work like redefining beds can keep your workers employed, and/or keep the money flowing.

Have some additional thoughts? Did we forget to cover something? Let us know in the comments below.

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Priscilla Perez

Would you happen to know if the bed redefiner blade would fit or work with an EGO edger?

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