Using landscape timbers is one of the cheapest ways to build a nice-looking border that doesn't look cheap. If you use treated wood or treat the wood yourself, timbers last for many years before they must be replaced. They can be left their natural color or can be painted to match the tone of the landscape.
Measure the area to be cordoned off with the timber border. Purchase enough landscape timbers to complete the job. Landscape timbers are 4 inches thick and 3.5 to 4 inches wide. The length of timbers varies, but most are 8 feet in length.
Determine the height of the border. For a 4-inch-high border, you do not need stakes or other methods to hold the border in place. For a higher border, you stack the landscape timbers, and need a method to keep them in place.
Lay out the bottom row of the border. Cut the timbers to fit curves in the border. When cutting the timbers, you can cut proper angles to make the border look seamless, or you can cut the ends square. If you leave the ends square, there is an open space on one side of the border (depending on how you lay the timbers).
Stake the timbers to keep the next rows stable. Alternate the stakes from the left to the right of the border so that the next rows cannot fall inside or outside the border.
Drill holes every 3 to 4 feet along the bottom row of the border if you prefer to use dowels to keep the top rows of timber secure. The holes should be no more than an inch deep. Measure the holes center-to-center to determine where the dowel holes belong in the next row of timber.
Measure the bottom of the next row of timbers for the dowel holes. Drill 1-inch-deep holes in the bottom of the timbers. Cut the dowels into 2-inch lengths. Hammer the dowels into the bottom row of landscape timbers. Line the second row up with the dowels. Press the second row down onto the dowels. You might need to hammer the second row down onto the dowels if the holes are tight around them.