DIY concrete landscaping and garden edging – Mother Earth News
Concrete landscaping is made easy with these simple and clear instructions.
by AdobeStock / Bilanol
Concrete guide (Creative Publishing International, 2008) takes readers through some of the most popular home concrete and masonry projects. Approved by Quikrete, this book includes tips and expert advice that can help readers save hundreds or thousands of dollars on their DIY projects. In this excerpt from “Exterior House and Landscaping,” concrete landscaping is the main project, with an emphasis on creating stunning garden borders.
You can mold garden borders like these or change the dimensions of the mold to suit your own design. For added stability, make sure the borders are at least 4 inches wide at the bottom.
- Concrete Mixing Tools
- Rubber mallet
- Concrete trowel
- 3/4 ” exterior grade plywood or melamine covered particle board
- 2 Inch Coarse Thread Drywall Screw
- Silicone caulk
- Vegetable oil or other release agent
- Crack resistant concrete
- Plastic sheeting
Decorative and durable edging can have a number of uses in an outdoor home. It makes stunning garden edging, lawn edging, driveway and parking edging, decorative tree frames, and loose ground cover barriers – just to list its most popular applications. You can buy factory-made edging from masonry and other materials, but few precast products can match the stability and longevity of poured concrete, and none can have the personal touch of a custom cast.
In this project, you will learn how to pour your own sections of edging using poured concrete and a reusable wooden mold. The process is so simple and the materials so inexpensive that you will feel free to experiment with different shapes and surface treatments. Staining concrete is an even simpler option for a personal decorative effect (see QUIK TIP, below).
The best all-around concrete to use for small casting projects like this is crack-resistant concrete, which contains small fibers to add strength to the finished product without the use of metal reinforcement. However, for any pour less than 2 inches thick, use a sand mix. This special concrete mix does not have large aggregates, which allows it to form easily in smaller areas. Either type of concrete must cure for 48 hours before the mold can be removed; to speed up your productivity, you may want to build more than one mold.
QUIK TIP: For a personal touch, add liquid cement color to your concrete mix before pouring it into the mold. One 10-ounce bottle can color two 60-pound or 80-pound bags of concrete mix. Experiment with different proportions to find the right amount of color for your project.
How to build poured concrete curbs
1. Cut the pieces for the mold. Secure the end blockers flush with the ends of the side panels using pairs of 2-inch drywall screws driven through pilot holes. Secure the bottom blocking to the side panels, flush with the bottom edges.
2. Secure the end panels all the way, locking with 2-inch screws. Install the bottom panel with screws driven through the panel and into the bottom lock. Make sure all panels and blockages are aligned along the top and bottom edges. Note: You may need to leave one end open to work, as we did here.
3. Add toppings or other items as desired for custom shaping effects. Here we used crown moldings which we secured to the blocking with finish nails using a nail set. Cover the screw heads inside the mold with silicone sealant; then flatten to create a smooth, flat surface.
4. Coat the inside of the mold (all parts without melamine) with clean vegetable oil or other release agent. Mix a batch of concrete following the product directions. An 80-pound bag of crack-resistant concrete will fill two of the molds.
5. Fill the mold with concrete. Set the casting in the mold by hammering the work surface with a mallet or lifting the corners of the mold and tapping it on the work surface.
6. Screed or trowel the concrete it is therefore flat and flush with the top of the mold. Cover the mold with plastic sheet and let harden for 48 hours.
7. Carefully disassemble the mold by unscrewing the ends and the bottom of the sides, if necessary. Scrape, file or grind jagged edges for clean details in the finished part. For maximum strength, place the molding in a shaded area and allow it to cure in moisture for three to five days, keeping it damp under a plastic sheeting.
More concrete projects:
• How to make a concrete ramp
• How to mix concrete
• Installation of posts in concrete
Reprinted with permission from Concrete guide: masonry and stucco projects published by Creative Publishing International, 2008.
Updated on December 19, 2021 | Originally posted December 29, 2020
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