Borders around flower beds and landscaped points of interest add a finished and professional look. Stone and mortar are commonly used as surrounds for trees and shrub beds. Numerous decorative river rock and garden bricks are always available for garden borders as well. But if you desire a more eye-catching style to surround a distinctive planted area, tile is the border material of choice.
Measure the perimeter of the garden bed, using a tape measure. Take measurements in sections and add the total up to get the final dimension. Write it down--this number serves as a reference throughout the job.
Sketch the desired design and estimate the tile sizes required. This will help in selecting the proper size tiles for trimming and installation of the new border. 12-by-12 inch tile is a common size--and as a result provides a greater selection in colors and patterns. When selecting the tile for the project; use two or three patterns to mix and match. Checkerboarding the tiles with contrasting colors adds a more personal touch.
Trace out the final pattern on a piece of sturdy cardboard and cut it out with a utility knife. The pattern serves as a template for each of the tiles. Place the template on each tile and mark the outside lines with a pencil. Plan for bury 4 to 5 inches of the tile into the ground--at least 1/3 of the total tile height.
Place the tiles on a steady surface to ensure an accurate cut. Cut out the drawn shapes with a jigsaw and a tile blade.
Dig a trench around the circumference of the garden bed using a small garden shovel and trowel. Remove soil approximately 4 inches deep and 1 inch wide. This will allow room to set the tiles--overlapping slightly--side-by-side in the trench.
Place the tiles in position and backfill with soil. Tamp the soil down to compact it around the tiles, and then smooth it out with the back of a garden spade. Moisten the soil and retamp around the tile edging for additional compaction.