Protect Your Garden With Concrete Edging

If you are ever hassled with garden weeds, make your own garden edging with treated wood and cement.
By Alden Stahr
May/June 1982
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Treated wood makes a good barrier around a garden.

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Are you hassled by uninvited plants intruding on your growing space? So was I, until I developed a solution.

My first workable "border" solution was a 2-by-10-foot plank, painted with wood preservative. Later, I built a form and lined the trench with small stones before pouring concrete. Now I can trim the edge without battling weeds!

If you've ever fumed about the knotty (and inaccessible) tangles of grass, briars, vines and weeds that tend to develop under fences, I'd like to share the fruits of my experience with you. For years, I tugged and chopped and cursed at the mess growing beneath the barrier surrounding my vegetable plot . . . with little success to show for my pains. Once, in desperation, I even tried a chemical weed killer, but it drifted onto the garden and shriveled my prized vegetables! I also laid down paper edging, but some of it blew away and the rest rotted in the first rain. Even plastic mulch was unable to stem the tide of weeds and vines while old carpeting strips eventually fell apart.

Finally, fed up with that junior jungle at the edge of my garden space, I decided to get tough with the tenacious weeds. First, I seized a grub hoe and hacked out a 10-foot-long section between two fence posts, down to a depth of about 2 inches. Then I cut a 2-by-10-foot plank, painted it with wood preservative and slid it into place over the cleared ground. My intention was to cultivate right up to the plank's inner edge in the garden, and run a rotary mower along the outside to give the plot a neat appearance.


Contain Weeds With Concrete

Now that plank — with its wood-preservative protection — is a pretty darn effective weed-stopper, but I wanted a permanent solution to the problem, so I decided to pour a concrete edging. In the next post-to-post section, then, I dug a trench 10 inches wide and 4 or 5 inches deep (about the same depth as a sidewalk pour). Then I built a form by placing two thin boards — each 5 inches wide and 10 feet in length — along the sides of the hole, and layering the bottom with small stones.


The concrete was mixed in a wheelbarrow right at the site in proportions of one part of cement to three parts of sand to five parts of gravel, and topped off with enough water to make a fairly sloppy mix. I poured the damp aggregate into the form, tamped it down with a rake and evened it out with a short board. Finally, to insure a slow, smooth set, I covered the concrete with plastic for three days. When the garden edger was firm, I removed the boards and filled in around the sides of the slab with soil.

I've found that this permanent border is every bit as effective (and, of course, long-lasting) as I'd hoped it would be. It allows plenty of room for the mower to pass along its outer edge, and I can run the garden tiller right up alongside its inner border without battling a thick thatch of weeds and vines!

Anyone who's tired of hassling with an overgrown strip at the edge of his or her garden plot might want to consider pouring a concrete border, too. When dealing with under-fence jungle, it's true that the best defense is a good offense!

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