Installing Lawn Edging Pavers to Make a Mowing Strip

Mowing strips aid in lawn and garden care

  • 01 of 07

    Lay Down a Mowing Strip When You Edge Your Lawn

    Black mulch with black plastic garden edging
    If you use a black mulch with black plastic garden edging, the edging isn't very noticeable. David Beaulieu

    Lawn edging can improve your yard aesthetically, but separating your grass from a flower border also has practical benefits:

    1. Many kinds of grass spread via stolons. Without lawn edging, you'll be constantly pulling grass out of your flower beds.
    2. If you don't contain the mulch in your planting bed, it will spill over into your lawn (and you'll end up distributing it even further afield when you mow).

    Sticking with the theme of practicality, a great idea when installing lawn edging is to take the extra time to install a mowing strip as part of the same project. A type of lawn edging in its own right, a "mowing strip" is a narrow row of pavers separating a planting bed from a lawn.

    The difference between mowing strips and other kinds of edging is that the pavers in mowing strips are sunk into the ground so that their upper surfaces are flush with the ground. When mowing the grass, you run the wheels on one side of your mower right on top of the mowing strip. This allows you to mow borders up-close, so as to avoid having to go back later with a string trimmer and cut the grass that you otherwise would have missed. Thus mowing strips reduce landscape maintenance.

    Supplies Needed to Install Lawn Edging

    • Plastic lawn edging
    • Precast concrete pavers
    • Sand
    • Carpenter's level
    • Tape measure
    • Spade or edger
    • Trowel and mallet
    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Mowing Strips Made With Precast Concrete Pavers

    Lawn edging paver
    David Beaulieu

    Precast concrete pavers with an interlocking-end connection system are an excellent choice for a mowing strip. Edgestone is the product used in this project. Although people often speak of "brick" pavers as being used for mowing strips, note that regular bricks would break down too quickly to be used in this manner. "Bricks" intended for paving are made of tougher stuff.

    Mowing strips should be used in conjunction with another form of edging because, being flush with the ground, mowing strips won't keep mulch from falling out of your garden beds. Some people complement their mowing strips with brick edging, where the bricks are stood up on end, "shoulder to shoulder," to form a classy lawn edging. But this classy look comes with a cost, which is why frugal landscapers use the type of vertical barrier between lawn and garden that we'll be installing in this DIY project: plastic edging.

    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    Interlocking-End Connection System Makes Installation Easy

    Mowing strip pavers laid out on a lawn
    David Beaulieu

    Determine the dimensions of the shallow trench you'll be digging to house the pavers of the mowing strip. To this end, simply lay down the interlocking concrete pavers temporarily, centering them over their home to be. A nice feature of this type of paver is that the units could easily be joined so as to form a curve if you needed to edge a lawn with a rounded border.

    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    Mark the Trench Lines for the Mower Strip

    Lawn edger being used to mark a border in an edging project
    David Beaulieu

    Dial the Call Before You Dig number prior to excavation, for safety's sake.

    Begin excavating for the mower strip by plunging a spade, lawn edger or knife down into the ground, right along the sides of the concrete pavers. A garden spade probably works best for this task, since it has a straight edge. Just go down a few inches (you don't have to establish a precise depth yet).

    Now that the exact course for your mower strip is marked and the excavation has begun, you can set the concrete pavers aside again.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Dig the Trench

    Mallet and trowel being used to remove dirt to make a trench for edging
    David Beaulieu

    Determine the trench depth for the concrete paving mower strip. The Edgestone product instructions call for 1 or 2 inches of sand to be laid in the trench, as a base; go with the larger figure (about 2 inches of sand).

    To begin planning the trench, take into account the fact that the depth of the concrete paving product itself is 2 1/2 inches. Furthermore, since you're using the concrete paving as a mowing strip, you'll want the blocks to stick up about 1/2 inch out of the ground (they will eventually, settle, anyway, and become about even with the ground).

    Consequently, you'll want to excavate 4 inches, lay down about 2 inches of sand (packed down), then lay the concrete paving on top of the sand base.

    Having figured out the trench depth needed for the concrete paving, go ahead and excavate those 4 inches. The easiest way to do this is with a wide garden trowel and a rubber mallet. Use them like a hammer and chisel to scoop out the trench, as the width of the garden trowel will be close to that of the trench itself. Slip a paver in temporarily to check for fit.

    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Lay Down the Mower Strip on a Firm Sand Base

    Using a carpenter's level to check that edging pavers are level
    Check for level as you go with a carpenter's level. David Beaulieu

    With the excavating done, line the trench with the 2-inch sand base. Tamp down the sand base, to make it firm.

    Begin laying the mower strip, inserting the interlocking concrete pavers into the trench. As you proceed, check with a carpenter's level to make sure the course of the mowing strip remains level (assuming you're working on level ground, to begin with). To make adjustments in height, tap down on the interlocking concrete pavers with your rubber mallet or add sand, as needed.

    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    Install the Plastic Lawn Edging

    Pounding in plastic lawn edging with a mallet
    David Beaulieu

    Plastic lawn edging is designed for easy installation. Beginning at one end of your planting bed, pound a segment of it into the ground, using a rubber mallet, right up next to your mowing strip. How high you leave the plastic edging is up to you. Ask yourself:

    • "How high does the plastic edging have to be to contain the mulch that will fill my planting bed?"
    • "Am I willing to sacrifice a bit of that height, so as not to be constantly tripping over the plastic edging?"

    The segments of plastic edging have grooves so that they interlock with each other. In comparing the product used in this sample project, QuickEdge, with another, Emerald Edge, note that the latter costs more. One reason why is that the segments of QuickEdge are shorter, meaning it does not install quite as quickly: You save money, but you lose a bit of time.

    One thing to like about the QuickEdge, though, is the color: Being black, it blends in pretty well if you use a black mulch behind it. The Emerald Edge, being green, would be harder to hide.

    Since lawn edging was installed in this sample project prior to the creation of the garden space, the final step would be to get rid of the grass in the area designated for the garden space and begin the plant-selection process.