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Garden Borders

Points to Think About

  • One of the most important things to remember is, that apart from the function of the border, it is also responsible for blending two themes, ie. lawn to garden.

  • When choosing the borders, think about future maintenance eg. mowing strips, watering system access etc.

  • If grass is grown on one side of this border then the type of grass will determine the type of border needed.

Desired Shape

  • Often the shape of the borders will depend upon the type of material you choose to use, however it's good to think about it prior to purchase. If you want curved edges around your gardens then your limitations are to a material that will accommodate this.

  • The shape will also depend upon the type of theme you choose for your garden, eg. a European theme will need straight edges and square corners etc.

  • Some garden borders are very informal and have no structure to them at all, this of course will depend upon the two types of themes you are trying to separate and whether they will grow or move into each other.

Genral Tips

  • When choosing the border, it is important to think of the two themes that you are separating and be careful to pick a material that will compliment the landscape.

  • If grass is one of the themes, and it often is, then the border has to be sufficient enough to prevent the grass from intruding into the garden, especially if the grass is a runner variety. Also a mowing strip is worth considering.

  • If choosing a stone as a border, try and stick to the same type of stone for that whole border. This will look much better than having different ones.

  • The disadvantage in using timber is that you are stuck basically to fairly straight lines unless logs are used on end, then a curve can be placed in the boarder.

Job Information


  • When it's just concrete being used then it's normally for a mowing strip.

  • There are companies that will come and pour the concrete through a mould to the shape that you want around the garden.

  • If considering pouring the concrete yourself you will need the strip to be at least 100mm wide and 150mm deep. This will provide enough volume of mix that will not break easily.

  • If colour is desired then oxide is mixed into the mix. This is because the size of the strip is not big enough to float colour into the surface. However, another option is to make it wider to cater for either just colour or even a stencil.

  • It is important to make sure that the base on which the strip is being placed on is firm. This will help prevent the strip from cracking.

  • Saw cuts across the strip every 2 - 3m will allow the concrete to expand and contract.


There really is no maintenance required except for recolouring or resealing if that's the finish chosen. Keep an eye on the strip for cracking as this can be dangerous and unsightly. The size of the plants that are planted can also cause the strip to crack.



  • It always tends to look better if the stones that are used, are of the same variety.

  • When you are cementing the joints, let the mix start to set a bit then wash off the excess. This will make the joints clean and professional looking.

  • Some may like to make a feature out of the joints by allowing the cement to protrude from the rocks and then shaping it.

  • The rocks are usually set in concrete as a footing then the joints are cemented at a later stage.

  • Stones can be set standing up or even laying down depending on what you are trying to create.


It is really a matter of keeping an eye on the joints for crack- ing which will eventually lead to the stones coming loose. The size of the plants can also cause the stone borders to crack, so be careful of this when choosing your plants or the position of the border.

Rocks-Not Cemented

  • As a border, rocks if not cemented, are usually more bolder. The edges have to be butted together to serve it's purpose as a border.

  • The larger the stones the less chance of them moving, all within reason of course as this depends upon the theme that you have.

  • It's an idea to bed the rocks in on a course sand, as this will help you position the rocks easier, and less chance of the rocks sinking or moving.

  • What also helps is if the backfilling behind the rocks is done while the rocks are being placed. This will let you know whether the particular rock is adequate to do the job.

  • If other rocks have to be added to provide a good join then try to keep them as closely fitted as possible.


One of the main concerns will be the weeds or grass growing between the rocks. But if the garden is informal then this will add character. However the main purpose of the border is to prevent this from happening so it will be the main course of maintenance.

Bricks and Pavers

  • These can add a lot of character to the garden when used as a border. Especially if there is some other brick work near by. Again it is important to keep to the same type of bricks, this will prevent your garden looking like patchwork.

  • If bricks are used, either use extruded ones which do not have the holes or cement the holey bricks on their side, giving you a full brick-width border whilst hiding the holes.

  • The other choice is to use pavers, however, they will not bond as well so when setting them in the cement just wet them down first.

  • A concrete footing is usually poured for the bricks to be cemented on, this need only be 200 wide x 100mm deep. Be careful to keep this below the surface so it will not be seen.


The only thing really to be concerned about would be if the joints were to crack. This may cause the bricks to separate.

Treated Timber

  • The advantage of using treated timber is that you do not have the worry of rotting or white ants eating the timber, and as the timber is in full contact with the ground, this is certainly worth considering.

  • A variety of borders can be made from a variety of treated timber, from logs, sawn timber to sleepers. All providing a particular theme as a boarder.

  • Usually if logs are used then you can have two or three logs fixed on top and to posts, like a small wall. But if sleepers are used then it's normally just one high.

  • Sleepers can be stood on edge or laid down with the ends joined together, cut to shape. Not only are they fixed together they are also fixed to treated pegs placed behind them, usually on the garden side so they can be hidden.

  • Other forms of pegs can be used like star pickets or steel pipes. Providing they are hidden they will not spoil the look.

  • The fixings must always be galvanised or nickel coated as the CCA treatment will eat away the mild steel nails etc.


There is really little to be concerned with apart from the timber splitting, this can make it a bit unsightly and can cause concern with splinters if kneeling on them to weed the garden. Keeping the timber moist will help prevent this.

Untreated Timber

  • Sleepers are usually the most common for garden borders, landscape sleepers or old railway sleepers.

  • Landscape sleepers come in basically two sizes, 200 x 100mm and 175 x 75mm. Both are adequate to do the job, it just depends on your theme.

  • Railway sleepers can vary in size so adjustment has to be made with the ground level to cater for this.

  • Railway sleepers can be very heavy and hard to cut. This will make a difference to how long it takes to do the job. Washing the area where you need to cut the sleeper will certainly help the saw.

  • Which ever sleeper you choose to use the principle of fixing them is the same. Usually they are laid down then fixed to each other at the ends as well as pegs in the ground, normally on the garden side so they can be hidden.

  • It is still a good idea to use gal nails to prevent rusting and leaking over the timber.


Unless precautions are taken to help protect the timber the main concern will be rotting or white ants.

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