It’s important to consider curbing (also known as edging) when designing your landscaping. Curbing gives your landscaping a finished look, protects your plants from lawn mower- and weedeater-related damage, keeps your landscaped flowerbeds nicely contained, and prevents weeds from encroaching on your gardens. Generally speaking, concrete and brick are the most favorable landscape edging materials; they’re more both more attractive and more durable than the plastic, wood and metal options used to serve the same purpose.
Edging with Concrete or Brick
The choice between concrete and brick edging is largely a matter of personal preference. Both materials hold up well over time — making both more practical than plastic edging, which must be replaced periodically due to damage and excessive fading.
Wood and metal, while sturdy, are less durable than concrete and brick. Wood eventually rots, even when it is chemically treated; and metal rusts and deteriorates over time. Asphalt is another popular choice for landscape curbing, but its high price discourages many homeowners from incorporating the material into their landscaping designs.
Two Types of Concrete Edging
Concrete curbing falls into two main categories. First, there are pre-formed concrete blocks that join together like bricks. Second, there is concrete curbing that is molded and poured around your garden or flowerbed using an extrusion process. Poured concrete creates a polished look but demands a higher price tag than pre-made blocks, and brick is generally more expensive than standard concrete. So, price considerations make concrete the go-to option for many homeowners.
When deciding between brick or concrete blocks or poured concrete, it’s important to consider the fact that individual blocks and bricks may shift and pop loose, creating unattractive holes in your edging. Many homeowners choose poured concrete for its continuous seam and easy upkeep.
The amount of landscape curbing you will need will depend on several factors:
Size of home
Amount of landscape curbing desired
Slope of land and difficulty of installation
Strength of concrete used
In general, a typical landscape curbing job requires between 180 and 300 square feet of concrete. The average cost of concrete depends on its composition: pre-formed, individual blocks or poured.
Individual, Pre-Formed Blocks
The cost of standard, pre-formed concrete blocks will range from approximately $2 to $3 per square foot. The cost of standard, pre-formed blocks for a project requiring 200 square feet of landscape curbing would total about $400 to $600.
Reinforcement and isolation materials may add an additional $1 per square foot to your project, and installing your landscape curbing yourself can save you as much as $5 to $10 more per square foot.
Extruded Concrete Poured On Site
The cost of materials for concrete poured on site using an extrusion process will typically fall between $4 and $5 per square foot. This means that, for a project requiring 200 square feet of landscape curbing, you might expect to pay $800 to $1000 for the concrete itself and as much as $1 to $2 per square foot for additional materials.
Pouring concrete requires special equipment; therefore, it is not a DIY project. Labor costs for poured-concrete landscape curbing generally average $5 to $13 per square foot. Of course, labor prices will depend largely on the difficulty of the installation.
The cost of labor associated with your landscape edging installation project will depend largely on the size of your project and the type of curbing you choose to install. A quality landscape curbing job takes time. So, many homeowners find that hiring a pro better serves their needs in the long run — particularly for large and difficult projects. Custom landscape curbing installation is generally best completed by a professional. If your lawn is hilly, or of there are several curves in your curbing design, concrete poured on site with an extrusion process will provide a better finished product. Because this type of concrete can be poured exactly to the contours of your landscape, it is a great option for hard-to-install designs and unusual landscape characteristics.
Individual block concrete lends itself far better to self-installation than poured concrete does — and installing block curbing yourself will save you a lot of money. Of course, there is a certain amount of skill involved. And it’s always a good idea to give yourself some extra time to complete a DIY project. To install individual brick edging, you must begin by preparing the area where the edging is flush with the ground (installing isolation materials will help prevent grass or weeds from growing between the individual blocks). Then, carefully place your blocks to ensure that your blocks are level to prevent a crooked-toothed effect when the edging is complete. Slight curves, dips and slopes in your lawn may present additional challenges.
Consider these pros and cons when deciding between block and poured concrete edging.
Generally speaking, both individual blocks of concrete and concrete poured on site offer tremendous durability; concrete will not rot, warp or significantly deteriorate over time.
Poured concrete will last indefinitely, presenting a permanent option attractive to homeowners wishing for a “set it and forget it” curbing option. If chipping occurs over time, it can be easily repaired with a standard concrete patching product found at any local home improvement store.
Damage to individual concrete blocks may be repaired with the simple replacement of the broken or chipped block with a new one. In fact, it’s a good idea to purchase 5 to 10 percent more blocks than your project requires to ensure that a matching block will be available to replace any blocks to which damage may occur.
“Beauty” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of concrete, but concrete landscape curbing can add significant curb appeal to your home — highlighting and defining your landscaping to give your entire lawn a more cultivated, polished look.
Concrete is so durable that it is unlikely to require replacement; therefore, it typically requires only a one-time investment. So, while concrete landscape curbing may initially cost more than options such as wood, plastic and metal, it will save you both time and money in the long run. Concrete also offers additional benefits: It acts as a barrier against the encroachment of grass and weeds; it saves the time that you would otherwise spend mowing, edging and weeding your beds; and, with occasional sealing, it’s easy to keep it looking fresh.
Pro: Contours to the Landscape
Concrete poured on site can be configured exactly to the existing contours in your landscape, providing an additional “wow” factor to the finished look of your lawn. Like tailor-made clothing can make any person look more polished, landscape curbing can make any lawn look more polished.
Con: Initial Cost
Depending on the complexity of the project, concrete landscape curbing can be a costly investment. If the area to be edged is exceedingly large, or if the contour of the land is too difficult to mimic, costs for landscape curbing can mount quickly.
While durability is a plus, the permanence of concrete landscaping curbing may be a deterrent to some homeowners — particularly in the case of concrete poured on site, as concrete removal can be a tedious and messy affair.
If you are the type of gardener who likes to occasionally change the location, size or shape of your flower beds, poured concrete is not your best option. Individual concrete blocks, on the other hand, may be the perfect choice.
Versatility is one of the greatest advantages of concrete landscape curbing. Pre-formed concrete blocks come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes — and each can be coordinated to accent the colors of your garden and surrounding environment. Squares, rectangles and half-moons are among the most popular shapes available.
Poured concrete is also versatile in terms of design. First, poured concrete can be stained to complement any environment; many homeowners choose warm, earthy tones to highlight their gardens’ tones. Second, poured concrete can be stamped with interesting designs, providing added visual interest to the overall landscape. In fact, pebbles, shells and other items may be added into the concrete for added texture. And, brick veneers, tile and stone can also be adhered to concrete, making it possible for a homeowner to create attractive, one-of-a-kind designs.
While individual concrete blocks afford you the option of completing a landscape curbing project yourself, it is important to consider how much time and energy you have to invest in the project before embarking on it. In many cases, you may find that — even when working with individual concrete blocks — doing the job yourself can be a frustrating process.
Landscape challenges such as hills, slopes and drainage issues will frequently necessitate the help of a professional. However, if your land is level and well-drained — and your design is simple — the DIY option can save you $5 to $10 per square foot in labor costs alone. If you have the time to devote to the project, it is definitely doable on your own.
A successful poured concrete curbing project, on the other hand, will require the help of a professional with the right equipment. A professional will be able to design custom landscape curbing to suit your individual preferences — and they will usually be able to complete a standard-sized project in a relatively short amount of time.
It is always wise to use a fully licensed, insured and bonded professional to perform work on your property. When it comes to landscape curbing, you can expect that a licensed professional will install all curbing to your specifications, while ensuring that your flower beds or gardens are not harmed in the process. Working with a pro will help ensure that your landscape curbing project increases both the visual appeal and the overall value of your property.