Flower beds are a lovely addition to any garden. Some gardeners prefer the wild and natural flower bed where free flowing flowers spill over the border. Others prefer every plant in its place -- tidy, visible and orderly. If the latter is your style, consider using concrete edging to sharpen flower borders.
Like most choices in landscaping, there are pros and cons to choosing one material over another. Concrete edging makes a neat border and provides a distinct line between flower beds and lawns. Poured in place, concrete can be enhanced with color and texture to bring a custom artsy look to your garden.
The negative of concrete edging in Northern climates is bitter winter temperatures can heave and distort edging, causing a maintenance nightmare every spring. Additionally, in both frost and frost-free climates, concrete must be installed properly, or it will shift and crack, requiring costly repair or replacement.
Poured in Place
Concrete edging can be poured in place, with an end result limited only by imagination. To pour a concrete edge, careful consideration must be placed in preparing the base on sand, slag or gravel that is compacted and well-drained. Good drainage is important to avoid shift and heave. Placing concrete on clay or muck is not a good idea. After the base is prepared, concrete forms are placed at a complementary width and height to the flower beds. Concrete is poured into the forms, texture added, leveled and cured. After the forms are removed the result will be a trim edge that creates sharpness and focus in the garden. Saw cut a joint in the concrete edge every 6 to 8 feet to prevent cracking from the natural movement of soil.
Concrete edging is available as precast concrete pavers. Many big box store or local garden centers sell pavers in convenient sizes and usually within a small color range. Sometimes in the landscape trade this material is referred to as segmented block. Using segmented blocks is an easier option for a do-it-yourself project. Preparation of the base is of extreme importance. Laying the block on wet, clay or mucky soils will result in disaster. The trick to fast and easy installation is paying careful attention to leveling the base. The blocks can be laid level with adjacent soil or set higher to create a slightly raised planter. Either way, the end result is a trim border which will highlight any flower garden.
If poured-in-place edging is the chosen method, consult your local hardware or building supply center for suggestions on concrete contractors or qualified landscape contractors. Sometimes drawing your ideas on paper to discuss with your contractor will help develop a greater understanding of the desired design. For precast pavers, your local big box store or local landscape supply store stocks several different paver styles that fit many garden themes. Also, many landscape contractors will install precast concrete pavers. For qualified landscape contractors consult your local landscape and nursery association.