A restaurant in town used to have a formal garden outback. It was a lovely place to enjoy a glass of wine on a summer evening.
While I admired the beds overflowing with beautiful flowers, I felt sorry for whoever was responsible for maintaining them. There was no border or barrier defining the beds. Instead, the edges of the beds were crisply cut into the lawn, a chore that I’m sure had to be repeated every week to keep them as neat as they were.
While it looked great, I prefer an easier maintenance option for my own garden. That usually involves some kind of border.
There are lots of ways of making borders and lots of materials to use. Perhaps the most common is some form of plastic that is 4″ – 6″ wide and comes in rolls. You install it in a slit cut in the soil and hold it in place with pins.
It’s not my favorite. It doesn’t look all that good, it’s not very durable and you can’t get a lawn mower close to it so you need to use a string trimmer regularly.
I prefer something along the lines of the border shown here. I use traditional red brick simply because I like the look of it. Obviously, you’re free to use any paver that appeals to you.
The video below shows the basic process. I want to make a couple of other suggestions.
Use a rope or garden hose to lay out the shape and curves of the bed. You can use lime to mark the line on the ground so you can get the hose out of the way.
Dig along the marked line, removing the sod. When your done, the goal is to have the brick or paver at ground level. That will allow your lawnmower wheel to ride along it (hint: don’t make any curves so tight your mower can’t follow them), cutting the grass and almost eliminating the need for follow-up string trimming.
It’s fine to dig deep enough to allow for a layer of sand or fine gravel, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Having just dissed plastic borders, I do like to use them behind the brick on the bed side of the border. The kind I use is black, fairly heavy gauge and has a tube-like top. I set it so that tube rests on top of the brick.
It keeps grass from growing between the bricks into the bed. It also makes it a lot easier when I occasionally do use a string trimmer to clean up the edge. Between the brick and the plastic I’m not going to hurt anything so I can go along pretty quickly.
One other point: I don’t like to use landscape fabric for weed surpression. In a year or two, roots grow through it and it becomes a mess to deal with. I use layers of newspaper covered with mulch. It eventually breaks down and is easy to replace. Plus the price is right.