Key Takeaways

- Sidewalk- and edging-related falls are a major cause of occupational injuries for courier and delivery occupations. According to 2020 estimates, 18,730 couriers and messengers in addition to 334,810 postal service mail carriers are working in the U.S.

- Landscape edging has been determined to be the causative factor in many sidewalk fall incidents. The “open and obvious” legal doctrine is often used by both the plaintiff and defense in landscape injury lawsuits.

- Lacerations and fracture injuries from falls onto landscape edging are common for humans and pets. The populations with the greatest injury rates from landscape edging contact are the toddler through late teens age range, and the over 65 group.


Landscape edging has caused injuries to people from tripping or lacerations due to the sharp edging sometimes protruding from the ground. In some cases, these incidents lead to lawsuits and economic losses when people who come onto a property, whether invited or not, feel they were not appropriately warned or protected from the hazard.

Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the father of U.S. landscape architecture, was known for designing the landscapes of Central Park in New York City and the Biltmore house and its 125,000-acre estate near Asheville, NC. Now, some areas of both Central Park and the Biltmore Estate are edged while other areas have no edging. Even prior to Olmsted’s work, gardening practices used edging materials in the 18th and 19th centuries. These edgings were typically constructed using plants such as boxwood or a material such as earthenware, stone, iron or wood (National Gallery of Art, 2021). At Monticello, built between 1767 and 1809, Thomas Jefferson marked the perimeters of garden beds using pieces of brick known as “brick bats” (National Gallery of Art, 2021).

In February 1900, a patent for lawn edging was granted in the U.S. The inventor claimed that the open top gutter was composed of terra-cotta or similar material and adapted to form an edging for lawns. The accompanying patent application drawing showed a lawn on one side and an adjacent path or road on the other side (Payne, 1900). The granting of this patent began a new wave of edging in lawn care and maintenance.

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