Installing Cobblestone Paver Edging for an Asphalt Driveway

driveway paver edging
Photo courtesy Gregs Landscaping @ flickr/Creative Commons

The edges of asphalt driveways tend to show wear and tear sooner than the rest of the surface. Asphalt is softer than concrete and tends to show wear particularly along the edges, where it gets banged up by snow removal activity and daily vehicular traffic, even foot traffic. Fortunately, that same softness makes asphalt easy to work with if you want to dress up and protect the edges pavers.

Real cobblestone pavers, often called Belgian block, are made of granite and typically measure 4 to 5 inches thick, 7 to 9 inches wide, and 9 to 10 inches long. A paver edge looks best if it is installed along both sides of the driveway, but you can do just one side if that suits your needs. It's usually best to set the pavers on-edge rather than flat.

Supplies Needed

  • Chalk line
  • Handheld cutoff saw
  • Brick set chisel
  • Small sledgehammer
  • Garden spade
  • Bagged concrete mix
  • Concrete mixing tub
  • Hoe
  • Cobbletstone pavers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Mason's trowel
  • Broom
  • Paver base or ground limestone

1. Mark a Cutting Line

Create a cutting line along the edge of the driveway, using a chalk line. Secure one end of the line with a nail, have a helper hold the other end on the driveway so that the line is taut, and then give the string a quick snap from the middle.

2. Cut the Asphalt

Rent a handheld cutoff saw with a diamond blade. Tool rental outlets offer them for about $50 a day. Ask the person you rent from to give you a lesson on how the saw works (they're pretty easy to use). You can also find short online videos about cutting asphalt. If this part of the job scares you, hire someone to do the cutting; it may not cost you much more than the rental fee. Follow all safety precautions when using a cutoff saw.

Cut through the asphalt along the chalk line. Then, use a strong garden spade to remove the cut section. The saw probably won't be able to cut near the garage, so use a brick set chisel and small sledgehammer to finish the job. You can also use the chisel to remove any other asphalt that the saw missed.

3. Dig the Trenches

Use the garden spade to dig a trench along the edge of the driveway. Dig deep enough so that more than half the stone will be beneath the driveway surface, plus 1 inch for concrete. Make the width several inches wider than the width of the paver blocks. Alternatively, you can set the depth of the trench so that the edging ends up flush with the driveway surface.

4. Set Up a String Line

Drive wood stakes at each end of the trench. Tie a string line to the stakes, setting the line at the desired height of the edging. Make sure the string is very taut so it doesn't sag. You will set the pavers even with the string line so they are all at the same height.

5. Mix the Concrete

Plan to work in 8- to 10-foot sections. Mix one bag of concrete as directed on the package, using a concrete mixing tub and a hoe. Use the spade to dump a 1-inch layer of concrete into the trench along the edge of the asphalt. Reserve some of the mixed concrete to use for backfilling.

6. Install the Pavers

Set a paver into the concrete. Move it back and forth to set it properly. Use a rubber mallet to tap it to the desired depth, making sure the side face of the paver rests against the edge of the driveway and the top face or corner is even with the string line. Set the remaining pavers in the first section.

7. Backfill With Concrete

Carefully add more concrete in the trench along the outsides of the pavers. Smooth the concrete with a trowel. Shape the concrete backfill into a 45-degree angle to shed water toward the yard (away from the driveway).

Repeat the same process of mixing concrete, installing pavers, and backfilling until you have finished the edging. Let the concrete set overnight. Use a broom to sweep some paver base or ground limestone into the gaps around the pavers.

8. Finish Backfilling

Fill the rest of the trench with top soil or mulch. Allow the concrete to cure undisturbed for at least one week.

9. Add the Finishing Touches

Once the concrete has cured, take some time to add a decorative touch to the driveway border. You could simply throw some grass seed on the top soil, but you might also want to consider planting some flowers or other decorative plantings. Just be sure not to plant anything with a big root system that could disrupt the edging or the driveway.