Concrete curbing is a landscaper’s dream, and one of the most affordable, beautiful, and practical ways of keeping their precious plants and flowers protected.
If your garden isn’t lucky enough to have a concrete curb to surround it, there’s no need to fear, as this is a DIY project you can easily do for yourself with just a little bit of planning and a lot of muscle.
Without a concrete curb, your garden might be lacking in style, and it’s a nice touch that can help separate garden beds and trees, keep the lawn grass and weeds away from your prized roses, and give your yard a more finished look.
Thankfully, it doesn’t cost much to do the job yourself and once it’s been installed, it’ll last for decades.
How do you make your own concrete curb at home and how expensive is it?
The biggest part of the concrete curbing process comes with the planning, as you’ll need to map out where you want to have the curb and create the forms and bases for pouring the concrete.
Although there’s some manual labor involved, mainly with making and pouring the concrete, it’s a minimal effort job that can have huge results in the garden and save you hundreds from hiring a professional.
With our help, you’ll see the step by step process that it takes to create concrete curbing at home, and equip yourself with everything you need to do the job.
The simple addition of a concrete border around your garden bed or a nice boundary around the garden path will add major curb appeal, so it’s a low-cost project that’s worth the time and effort.
- 1 What is Concrete Curbing?
- 2 How Much Does Concrete Curbing Cost?
- 3 How to Start With a Concrete Curbing Project
- 4 Machines to Hire and Buy
- 5 The Planning Phase
- 6 Creating Forms and Bases Phase
- 7 Pouring Concrete Phase
- 8 Finishing Phase
- 9 Related Questions
What is Concrete Curbing?
Concrete curbing or concrete landscape edging is the concrete used to create a border around things like pathways, trees, and garden beds.
The low-profile concrete edging is used as an alternative to plastic and metal edging and gives a sophisticated look that can finish off a garden and help to differentiate specific areas of your yard.
Concrete curbing is useful in all kinds of climates and it’s a lot more durable than the aforementioned materials.
It can add an instant boost to your home’s exterior appeal and is a great way to make clearly defined spaces in the garden, whether it’s separating the walkway from the plants or drawing attention to a special garden bed.
One of the biggest benefits to concrete landscape edging is how easy it is to do at home and depending on the size of the garden you’re working with, you can complete the entire area for just a few hundred dollars.
The end result looks expensive and sophisticated and can add major curb appeal to your home without much effort at all, usually taking no more than a day to do the entire garden.
If you feel your garden is bare or needs more clearly defined spaces, the addition of just one edged area can make a huge difference. There’s very little skill required, only a few basic tools, and you have total freedom over what to do inside the curbed areas once the job is complete.
How Much Does Concrete Curbing Cost?
The cost of a concrete curbing job can vary depending on a few things, but the easiest way to save money is to do the job yourself. If you plan on attempting to install concrete edging at home, you’ll have to factor in a few things that can impact the final cost:
- Length of edging: Measure the entire length of the edging you plan on installing before you do calculations on costs. Give a few feet of extra space to cover any potential miscalculations.
- Tools and equipment hire: To complete this job, you’ll have to factor in things like purchasing concrete, hiring a mixer or wheelbarrow, and all of the tools needed to dig and create bases.
- Landscape: Take a look around your garden and consider the landscape you’re working with. If you have a lot of hills or tricky areas to maneuver, it will end up exerting a lot more energy for a DIY job and you may want to reconsider.
- Finishing products: If you are doing a total garden makeover you’ll have to factor in costs for what’s going inside the landscape edging. Rocks and stones, weed matting, mulch, pavers, turf, flowers, and plants are all ideas that can help you show off your new curb to the street.
For a professional, you can expect to pay between $8 and $20 per square foot of edging installed. The DIY option can save you between $5 to $10 per foot of edging, so when you see the huge difference between this and doing a personal renovation project, it’s clear that DIY is the way to go.
How to Start With a Concrete Curbing Project
If you’ve done some rough calculations and determined that it’s better to attempt the job yourself, you’ll want to get to work straight away.
The most important thing to figure out is whether you want to mix the concrete for yourself to make custom-sized blocks or purchase ready-made concrete blocks that can be laid around the garden’s perimeter.
There are pros and cons on either side, but most people prefer to pour the blocks themselves because it’s a job that doesn’t require much effort.
This gives a smoother finish, more customized shape and sizes for their garden, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that they completed the entire job on their own.
It helps to have an idea of the garden layout you want with the total picture in mind rather than just working on one area at a time.
Try taking a photo of the space and seeing where it might be helpful to have landscape edging, and plotting a few different spaces that could benefit from a cohesive look with all of the same type of concrete curb.
If you’d rather not mix and pour the concrete yourself, there are loads of options for purchasing concrete blocks and pavers. The job will take a lot less time and doesn’t need as careful planning but can still reap great results.
For the purpose of this step by step guide, we’ve only covered the method where you pour the concrete yourself, so you can skip ahead a few steps if you only want help with placement of your purchased blocks.
Machines to Hire and Buy
One of the most common misconceptions with this job is that you’ll have to hire a lot of machinery just to match what the professionals have.
However, the only thing you’ll need in addition to your regular gardening supplies is a concrete mixer, and you don’t even need this if you’re happy to mix it by hand.
A concrete mixer can be a handy tool to have and to hire one you can expect to pay around $100 for a day from your local hardware store.
For some, the money will be worth it as it saves you hand mixing in your wheelbarrow. However, this is totally up to the individual, and your decision may be swayed depending on how much concrete you want to make.
The Planning Phase
Before we can get to the exciting phase of getting our hands dirty, you’ll want to spend a good amount of time in the planning phase.
Planning this job out and going over the finer details will ensure no errors are made and when you’re doing all parts of the edging including pouring concrete and creating your forms and bases, you don’t want to mess it up.
Although there’s no specific software made for garden edging, there are some great smartphone apps out there that can help.
They allow you to take a photo of your backyard as it currently is and do some mockups to see what edging will look like, and figure out roughly how much you’ll need.
This isn’t a job to leave solely up to electronics though, as you’ll need to do most of the planning by hand. The first step is to map out where exactly you want to install a concrete curb in the garden.
Assess pathways, garden beds, and other focal points you want to highlight with the edging and step back to make sure they’ll look good.
The easiest way to establish the perimeter is by using a piece of rope and laying it in a general shape of where you plan on laying concrete. You’ll want the border of concrete to be at least 5 inches wide but some are bigger, so decide the thickness you desire before you move onto the next stage.
Creating Forms and Bases Phase
With the exact location of your planned concrete curb in mind, you can now get to work digging out the soil and preparing it. You’ll need to excavate wider than the intended concrete edging, so aim for around four inches of depth and eight inches of width to give you enough room to work with.
Once you’ve dug the space where your edging will go, it’s time to create the forms where you’ll pour the concrete.
To build the form, you can use scrap pieces of woods for stakes to hold it into place, and ¼” thick plywood which still has some flexibility that’s ideal for curved edging.
Cut some spacers that can be placed randomly to ensure the forms remain consistent, measuring around 5 inches in size or however wide you plan on making your curb.
Attach the stakes along the edges of the plywood and then drive the stakes into the ground with a hammer, starting with the inside edging first. The plywood should be thin enough to allow it to move freely, and from here, you can create the exact form where you’ll pour the concrete for the edging.
Stead up the wooden forms you’ve created by backfilling them with some dirt that you’ve dug up. This will hold them more firmly into place so when the concrete is poured, it doesn’t bend over. Stand back and check that everything is in the right place before you start the next step.
Pouring Concrete Phase
Prepare the supplies you need to mix and pour the concrete before beginning. You can check the concrete bags to see the volume of concrete they create and how much water is needed, and you’ll want to make sure you have enough there before you begin.
Equip yourself with safety gear including a dust mask to prevent concrete inhalation and gloves to protect your hands.
Pour the concrete mix into your wheelbarrow and add the recommended amount of water, mixing as you go. Be careful not to mix too much if you don’t plan on using it right away, as concrete can set quickly and be rendered useless if you leave it out too long.
With the concrete ready to go, you’ll now work your way around the wooden form to fill it in. Use the trowel to place small amounts of time into the base to fill it up to the top of the wooden form, and tamp it down with enough force to remove the air bubbles and create a smooth finish on top.
Every few feet, make your way back to where you started and smooth it out again using a wet trowel. Start on the next section once the previous one is complete, and work your way around the garden filling in the form until it’s all done and smooth enough for your liking.
Once the concrete has been smoothed out, use your trowel to make control joints through it. These should be small indents no larger than an inch and at three feet intervals through the entire curb.
These are applied to wet concrete to help the cracks become less visible. As all concrete inevitably cracks over time, doing a relief cut like this removes the pressure and prevents it from cracking in random areas, ruining the neat look of your curb.
To finish off the concrete, apply an acrylic concrete sealer. This should be done before you begin letting it dry but after you’ve ensured the concrete has stopped bleeding and when all of your control joints have been made.
After applying the sealer, leave the concrete to cure for up to five days.
After this time, inspect the area to make sure it’s set, and then remove the forms slowly. Pull away the wooden form to reveal a neat concrete curb underneath, and backfill again with a little dirt or soil to hide the edges and make it seem more natural.
With the concrete dry and wooden forms removed, you can now add the finishing touches of landscaping and complete the space inside the edging.
You might want to add stones, mulch, new soil, weed matting, pavers, plants, and trees, or some people like to paint their new concrete curbing to add a bit of personality.
There are loads of easy ways to improve the curb appeal of your home, and concrete landscape edging is one of them.
This is a simple DIY project you can complete in a day and the end result will last your garden for years. Check out our answers to some commonly asked questions about this job to give you a push in the right direction to get started.
How Much Do Edging Stones Cost
If you’d rather purchase edging stones to make a landscape border in your garden, you can expect to pay between $12 per linear foot for basic stone varieties and up to $35 per linear foot for more premium materials.
When compared to concrete curbing that delivers the same results, it’s far cheaper to do the job yourself and mix the concrete on your own.
What Is the Cheapest Garden Edging?
To save money on garden edging and avoid having to pour the concrete, there are some budget-friendly options for this landscaping solution that can still look good.
Old pavers, glass bottles, used wooden pallets, broken terracotta pots, wooden logs, and steel edges are just some ways to create a landscape border in your garden. However, you’ll still need to go through the planning phases and digging the trench around the garden to install them properly.
How Long Does Concrete Curbing Last?
One of the biggest benefits of concrete curbing compared to wood, metal, and plastic edging is its longevity. When cared for correctly and poured the right way, concrete edging can last up to 30 years in a garden.
Considering the longevity and low costs, this is a worthwhile DIY job that you’ll probably only have to do once.