Building a Flower Bed Border

Stones and tools stand by for building a flowerbed border.
What You'll Need
Rope or thick twine
White spray paint
Plastic garden divider
Trowel, shovel, hoe, or hand spade
Crushed rock
Material for your border

Creating a flower bed border can be as simple and pleasurable as planting the garden itself. A well-planned and executed edge sets off your flowers and adds to the beauty and presentation of your entire yard. Edging can be made of a variety of materials, including brick, stone, rocks, crushed rock, river rock, timbers, crushed glass or seaglass, seashells, or even glass globes. Whatever strikes your fancy and fits your budget can be a potential border.

Tip: Keep your costs down by using recycled materials for edging such as old wine bottles.

Flower bed borders are more than just a pretty way to separate flowers from your lawn too. They can also help to keep weeds or grass from encroaching upon your flowers, and protect flowers from lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other yard maintenance implements. Borders also protect your flower bed from foot traffic by visually setting the garden off from the rest of the lawn.

Step 1 - Plan

Lay rope or twine out around your flower bed in the shape of the border you'd like. Adjusting the shape is as simple as moving the rope in the curve or line you desire.

Step 2 - Install Divider

Spray a line of paint on the ground, following the shape of the rope. Then, pick up the rope and install the plastic garden divider along the spray mark. This will help keep smaller border materials, such as gravel, pebbles, and seashells, from migrating into your grass. If you want to ensure border material doesn't move into your flower bed as well, you can also install another plastic divider at an appropriate distance inside the first.

Step 3 - Dig a Trench

Digging with a shovel

Use a hand spade or shovel to dig a trench along the painted line. The width and depth of the trench should be wide enough to accommodate the size of whatever edging material you plan to use. You may have to cut roots to clear the trench if your bed is near shrubbery or trees. Remove rocks and other debris to ensure the trench is as level and as consistently wide as possible.

Step 4 - Level

Add sand or crushed rock to the bottom of the trench, as this will help level out the ground underneath. If you are using wood timbers, the crushed rock will also help with drainage and prevent rotting.

Step 5 - Add Border

If you’re unsure of exactly how you want the pieces of your material to sit, feel free at the time to lay a mock-up in the yard in front of the trenches. This way you can move your pieces about to achieve just the right look without disturbing the sand or gravel in the trench.

Once you know how you want your border to sit, start laying the material in its final place. You may want to add more sand, crushed rock, pebbles, or other material around it as you put it down to make sure it shifts as little as possible.

Tip: Keep the edging smooth to make lawn mowing and trimming easy.

Step 6 - For a Retaining Wall

Small rock wall

If you plan to make a small retaining wall out of stone, make sure your trench is level. If you’ve put just gravel down at this point, you’ll want to put a layer of sand down on top as this is an easier surface to even out.

Start your wall by placing a single row of stones on the leveled sand. Take your time and fit the stones tightly together. Your second layer of stones needs to be slightly staggered. This will help hold the retaining wall together. Two rows of stones are generally enough to create a small but effective structure.