While not the most obvious or exciting feature in your outdoor space, landscape edging is still important. Whatever type of patio or path you build—concrete, brick, pavers, or loose materials—some type of edging is necessary.
These borders serve three main purposes:
- Contain the patio or path
- Serve as a decorative element
- Act as a transition between the hardscape and the garden (softscape).
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Of all the masonry edging projects, bricks in soil is one of the simplest projects to complete (in modern culture, going back to post World War II, for you patio historians). Bricks are laid in a narrow trench around the edge of a patio, which can also be made of brick, concrete, pavers, or other materials. For those who have clay soil, for once consider yourselves lucky—the bricks will stay put better than in sandy soil types since there is no mortar.
For an edging, bricks can be set vertically or angled for a jagged or toothed look. An invisible edge can be created by building a small underground footing that secures paving without visual support. The paving is set into a cast-concrete surface that conceals the footing.
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Wood that is resistant to weather, rot, and insects (specifically, termites), such as redwood or cedar, is the smartest choice for a long-lasting edging. Dimensional lumber (lumber cut to standardized widths and depths in inches) is the most popular type for patio or path edgings. For curves, flexible bender board is recommended. Other useful wood or wood-like edgings include rustic timbers, railroad ties, logs, wood posts, or bamboo.
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For those who want to create a well-defined edging, concrete might be the way to go. It helps retain paving but also serves as a mowing strip next to a lawn.
How it's built: Pour concrete into forms or molds (pictured), then screed flush with the top of the forms, making sure edging is even with the paved surface. Concrete can be left smooth or given some kind of finish, like salt, aggregate, seeded-aggregate, travertine, stamping or tooling, along with tints and colors.
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If the landscape style or theme is natural, rustic, or Japanese, consider using stone edgings. Good options for this type of edging are flagstone and pebbles, rocks, and boulders. This works well surrounding a patio, path, driveway, or a water feature (like a pond), helping to unite the spaces and spread the materials consistently throughout the landscape.
Note: Don't use loose rocks near a swimming pool.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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For those who want their patio to curve, a steel or aluminum edging will be a wise choice. It's lightweight and sturdy yet pliable, i.e. able to be flexed or bent into all sorts of shapes. While metal edgings are often used for lawns, they can also be used with patio materials like smaller pavers and loose materials, such as pea gravel or bark.
Note: Keep in mind that aluminum is more lightweight to work with than steel. Both look sleek and provide a nearly seamless transition from paving to surrounding areas.
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Plastic or Recycled Edgings
Like metal edgings, those made of plastic or recycled materials also are easy to manipulate. They usually come in four-inch-deep strips. For those who prefer color to metal, this might be the way to go. Plastic and recycled edgings are also usually one of the least expensive edging options, which might make this option even more appealing.
Again, like metal, plastic edgings are best for containing loose materials and would be a good choice for a children's play area. Plastic or recycled edging also can be used with pavers or brick. It is fairly easy to install, can be covered with soil or sod, and creates a patio or path that has no visible edging.