May 25, 2010

The Perfect Driveway Edge

I can state with some degree of confidence that for the first five-plus decades of my life, I never thought much about edging my driveway. I had a string trimmer and, twice a year, I’d dutifully create a moderately straight demarcation between asphalt and grass. On a scale of one to ten of satisfying activities, it was a solid ‘one’.

Then, a few years ago I found myself at Hidcote on a mid-May morning. Hidcote, for the garden-impaired, is one England’s (and the world’s) great gardens. It sprawls across the Cotswold countryside near the village of Chipping Campden and is, as Michelin would put it, ‘worth a journey’.

Anyway, on that May morning, I was savoring the gardens when I happened to look down and see the world’s most perfect pathway edge. Instead of grass butted up against macadam, this path contained an inch-and-a-half wide dirt channel on either side. The grass was crisp and green up to the channel, which was perhaps an inch deep. Nothing grew in the channel.

Can you get rapturous about a ditch?

Yes, the gardens were spectacular, but I had to know about this ideal edge. And so, with Betty rolling her eyes, I went off to find someone who could tell me about how it had been made. I assumed it was done with one of those half-moon edgers wielded by someone with a perfect sense of touch and infinite time.

A docent was pleased by my question, put her finger to her chin, and then pointed to one of the garden ‘rooms’ nearby. “You’ll likely find him working over there,” she offered.

A few hundred feet away, I found a young man wielding a tool with two wheels and what looked like a bicycle chain ring. He easily pushed the tool forward, one wheel on the path. Grass and bits of garden debris sprayed out as it clattered. He did this for perhaps fifty feet, then lay the tool on the sidewalk and swept up the clippings. As he did, what remained was that perfect inch-and-a-half-wide channel.

“I think I know what I want for my birthday,” I said. Betty rolled her eyes again.

Upon returning to the States (when you’ve just come back from England you can say things like that), I made a beeline for Home Depot. There was no such tool, I was assured, but they had something even better - the eight-pound, gas-powered Lawn Boy Micro-Trim, and for the unbelievably low price of just $189.98.  I did what I should have done in the first place and made a beeline for Will’s Hardware, where I am locally famous for my idiosyncratic requests.

The manager, Randy, and I leafed through several catalogs and finally settled on a Deluxe Mechanical Edger ($34.95). It wasn’t exactly what I had seen at Hidcote but it was close enough. A week later, I had it in my hand (birthday we damned - I had to have this thing).
Now, twice a year (more often if there’s a group coming), I get to use my Deluxe Mechanical Edger. It makes the same satisfying clacking sound that I first heard that morning at Hidcote. The channel not only looks terrific, it is practical: it carries away rainwater, preventing ponding on the driveway.

It takes perhaps five hours to do our 220-foor driveway with its curves and parking aprons. I’m spending about an hour each morning this week on the project. It’s eminently satisfying and the result looks like a million bucks. Best of all, for a few hours, I feel I’m back at Hidcote. And that is a very satisfying feeling.

No comments:

Post a Comment