Last Modified: February 9, 2024

DIY Garden Edging


Diy garden edging

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


Welcome to the next instalment of our People Also Ask About series, this time covering popular online queries about DIY garden edging. As a landscape gardener, it is common for me to come across many specific questions that go to the root of the best practice when renovating outdoor spaces. However, it can be difficult to find a clear and concise answer to a specific question online. Our series is designed to address this issue and provide you with helpful answers, saving you time and effort spent on endless searching. Please look for your specific question in the quick links menu.

Flame granite gravel with black bricks and palms

Key Takeaways

  • Preparation: Ground prep is crucial for successful installation of sleepers and paving slabs.
  • Edging Options: Garden borders can be defined with various edging methods, such as natural and wooden options.
  • Edging Quality: Choosing durable and attractive materials is important for long-lasting garden features.
Timber around flamingo stones

DIY Garden Edging Ideas

How do you edge a lawn by hand?

Edging a lawn by hand is a meticulous process that involves using a half-moon edger or a sharp spade to create a neat, defined line between the lawn and adjacent garden beds or pathways. Begin by clearly marking the edge line you wish to create. Then, position the tool where the grass meets the edge and push down firmly with your foot to slice through the turf. Work along the marked line, removing excess grass and soil to achieve a clean, straight edge.

How do I keep my garden edging straight?

To ensure your garden edging remains straight and precise, the most effective method is to use a string line as a guide from your starting point (point 1) to your end point (point 2). Securely fix the string in place at both points, ensuring it is taut and perfectly aligned with where you intend to edge. For an even more visible guideline, use landscaping chalk or apply spray paint along the line marked by the string. This painted line serves as a visual aid to prevent deviation, helping you maintain a straight and uniform edge as you work and achieve a neat garden layout.

Panda gravel with concrete and brick edging

How do you edge a flower bed with stone?

To edge a flower bed with stone:

  1. 1
    Start by mapping out the desired border shape and marking it on the ground.
  2. 2
    Excavate a trench along this line to a suitable depth for the stones you intend to use.
  3. 3
    Incorporate a base layer of sand or 20mm gravel in the trench to improve drainage and create a stable foundation for the stones.
  4. 4
    Place the edging stones into the trench, arranging them tightly against one another for a continuous edge.
  5. 5
    For added stability, backfill the gaps behind the stones with soil or sand, pressing it down firmly.

Not only does this technique ensure that the stones remain in position, but it also offers a neat and ornamental border that keeps grass creepers at bay while accentuating the beauty of your gardens.

Should garden borders be straight or curved?

The choice between straight or curved garden borders largely depends on the aesthetic and style you wish to achieve in your outdoor space.

Straight borders are more modern, providing a sleek, minimalist look that complements contemporary garden designs. They provide a sense of order and structure, making them ideal for formal landscapes.

Curved borders introduce an element of softness and flow, lending a more casual, natural feel to the garden. They can help to create a sense of movement and are particularly effective in rustic or cottage-style gardens. Ultimately, the decision should reflect your taste and match the overall theme of your garden.

Edge to edge bricks used to make a curved edge in a gravel garden

How do you make natural edging?

Creating natural edging that does not require any edging materials involves a straightforward technique using a flat-edged shovel or flat-edging tool. Begin by making a vertical cut down into the soil to a depth of about 8cm (3 inches) along the lawn's outer edge. Follow this with a second cut at a 45-degree angle towards the border or bed, creating a trench that has a straight vertical side on the lawn side and slopes upwards towards the bed or border. This approach forms a clean, defined edge that blends seamlessly with the natural landscape, providing a simple yet effective barrier between different areas of your garden and creeper grasses.

What is the best and easiest landscape edging?

One of the simplest and most attractive landscape edging options is edging stones. They can be gathered from around the garden and easily laid out in both straight lines and curves, accommodating various garden designs. Edging stones, particularly those made from hand-cut natural granite or slate, exude a rustic charm with their tumbled look reminiscent of cobblestones.

Green slate rockery with boulder edging

What is the easiest garden edging to install?

Metal edging is renowned for its ease of installation and low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for creating crisp, defined edges around lawns, flower beds, and borders. Available in various finishes, from sleek polished steel to rustic iron, metal edging allows for a high degree of customisation to match any garden's style and colour scheme. Its durability and flexibility make it a practical and stylish edging solution for modern landscapes.

How do you hold garden edging in place?

To anchor garden edging securely, use pegs to fix the edging material within the trench. After positioning the edging, drive pegs into the ground at the backside of the edging, then refill the trench with the excavated soil, compacting it firmly to help the edging stay in place. Another method is to attach the edging to number 3 rebar after embedding it into the soil.

These methods provide a solid foundation for the edging, maintaining its alignment and stability against the pressures of soil expansion, paving movement and plant growth.

Gravel blend with mallet and fixing pegs. Jpg

How do you make a simple garden edging?

For simple garden edging, there are several materials that can be used, such as timber, bricks, stones or metal. To start with, mark the desired outline of your edging on the ground. Dig a shallow trench along the marked line, then place your chosen edging material into the trench. Ensure that the materials are evenly aligned and secure them in place as needed. Finally, backfill the trench with soil to stabilise the edging. We cover this in a step-by-step format in How to Make Edging For a Garden.

Need to work out how much gravel your project needs? Try our free gravel calculator.

DIY Wooden Garden Edging

How do you keep wood edging in place?

Wood edging can be effectively secured using rebar or landscape timber spikes, which are driven into the ground alongside the wood, ensuring it remains firmly in position. Timber spikes are like very long nails. For higher structures like retaining walls, a T-shaped deadman's anchor or larger diameter rebar is recommended. The T-anchor is buried in the ground perpendicular to the edging, offering additional stability. These methods ensure that wood edging withstands the elements and pressures from soil and plant growth, maintaining its intended shape and function.

What wood can I use for garden edging?

For garden edging, consider durable hardwoods like oak, cedar, and redwood for their natural rot resistance and longevity. Cedar and redwood are particularly valued for their pest-repelling oils and are perfect for edging due to their natural durability and resistance to rot. They are also environmentally friendly and do not require any chemical treatment to preserve their condition.

Alternatively, pressure-treated softwoods offer an economical choice with better durability against decay and pests, thanks to a safe, non-toxic preservative treatment. Remember to make sure that the wood is ground-contact rated.

Wooden fence style edge next to green and white stones

How do you hold landscape edging in place?

To ensure landscape edging remains secure, install steel stakes at a 45-degree angle through the edging into the trench wall. Leave the top 5cm (2 inches) of the stake protruding for adjustments. The staking should be done sparingly, to maintain the edging's design and stability, until you are happy with the positioning. Then, you can add more for added strength. This technique provides sufficient support to the edging, keeping it in place while allowing for slight modifications to achieve the optimal landscape outline.

How to do sleeper edging?

Laying sleepers for garden edging involves a straightforward yet methodical process. Initially, determine the desired location for the edging and plan the layout of the sleepers. Next, prepare a foundation by excavating a shallow trench along the planned edging line, ensuring it is level and compact. This foundation should be filled with a suitable base material laid to about 5cm depth, such as 20mm gravel or sand, to provide stability and drainage. Carefully place the sleepers in the trench, aligning them to your desired layout, and secure them in place. Finally, backfill any gaps with soil to support and showcase the sleeper edging, creating a robust and attractive border for your garden spaces.

Railway sleeper raised bed

Can you lay sleepers directly on soil?

Laying railway sleepers directly on soil is pretty common, but it involves some proper groundwork for longevity and stability. Begin by clearing the area of any debris, weeds, or grass. Dig a trench about 5cm deep and ensure the surface is level. Incorporate a 5cm (2 inch) layer of crushed aggregates or sand at the base to improve drainage which also prevents the wood from sitting in moisture, which can lead to decay. Place the sleeper into the gap and check for level.

Can I lay sleepers straight on the ground?

Sleepers can be positioned directly on hard surfaces like concrete or patios without additional preparation. However, when installing sleepers on softer grounds such as lawns or soil, it's necessary to excavate a shallow trench where the base sleeper will be placed, 5cm (2 inches) deeper than the height you desire. The trench should then be filled with aggregates to a 5cm depth in order to provide a base with drainage. This trench houses the sleeper securely and helps it to sit level, preventing shifting and sinking over time.

How do you make a garden border with sleepers?

If you're planning to create a garden border with sleepers, here is a brief overview of the steps:

  1. 1
    Identify the location where you want to create the border.
  2. 2
    Dig a shallow trench for the foundation.
  3. 3
    Lay the sleepers in the desired arrangement.
  4. 4
    Backfill the area with soil.

Following these steps will provide you with a sturdy and attractive garden border that adds character and structure to your outdoor space. If you would like step-by-step instructions, check out How to Make Edging For a Garden.

How do you make a garden border with sleepers?

Creating a garden border with sleepers involves planning the layout, preparing a foundation, laying the sleepers, and backfilling with soil. Start by identifying the border's location, digging a shallow trench for the foundation, and placing the sleepers in the desired arrangement. This method provides a sturdy and attractive edging solution, adding structure and character to garden spaces.

Raised railway sleepers with rustic slate garden. Jpg

How deep should a garden border be?

The depth of your garden border plantings doesn't need to be any deeper than the root system of the plants being introduced. Therefore, in well-prepared soil, there's no need to dig deeper than the existing roots. However, in conditions of dry soil, it's beneficial to moisten the bottom of the planting hole before insertion.

How do you make a wooden garden border?

To create a wooden garden border, follow the following steps:

  • Cut wooden blocks to the desired length
  • Protect blocks with wood glaze
  • Dig a trench along the area you intend to border
  • Install the blocks into the trench
  • Trim the lawn edge adjacent to the wooden border for a neat finish.
Cotswold stone chippings and shrubs in railway sleeper raised bed. Jpg


We have answered some common questions specifically about DIY edging for garden and landscaping projects, covering topics such as installing sleepers on soil, creating garden borders and laying edging. Whether you prefer sleek or natural garden borders, our tips will help you master edging for a well-designed garden that reflects your style.

We have every type of gravel available to choose from in the UK. Check them out!

About the author 

Ben Parrot is a landscape gardener and amateur geologist. He is the founder of Outdoor Aggregates, with the mission to create the first encyclopaedia for decorative aggregates. From natural stone through to decorative bark, these aggregates are critical to garden and landscape design, universally.

The problem: There isn't any place where all the different types of decorative landscaping materials and construction aggregates can be found, nor are the specifications of each type readily available. So, enriched by his extensive experience, and inspired by the timeless elegance and raw beauty of stone and rock, etched by nature's artistry over millennia, Outdoor Aggregates was born.