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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Make a Garden Border Out of Old Bricks!

The arrangement goes that the Homeowner’s Association is responsible for mowing our lawns and common areas but we Condo owners are responsible for the maintaining the flowerbeds in front of our homes, including the edging. Well, I don’t think someone gave the new lawn service guys that memo because shortly after they started taking care of our neighborhood, they put in trench edging in everyone’s flowerbeds, much to our dismay.

Trench edging is cheap, but it doesn’t keep mulch from sliding out of a flower bed. Even worse, since we have clay soil that doesn’t drain, every time it rains the trench turns into the perfect mosquito nursery.

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This is my neighbor’s yard after a rainstorm. They are very nice people and don't deserve such crappy edging.

Needless to say, most of my neighbors dealt with the trench edging by replacing it with their own garden edging.

I saw a few examples of edging I liked as Blitzkrieg and I bopped around the neighborhood on our daily
landscaping recon missions walks. But me being me, while I liked what I saw, I didn’t want to be a copycat and put in the same stone borders as my neighbors. I wanted some sort of stone, preferably brick. However, I’m very picky about my brick. I like my brick old and weathered – think old English pub walls. I was having a difficult time locating a big load of brick that had such character. All of the brick I saw for sale were pristine brick pavers. Great if you’re building a patio but not so great for what I wanted.

My in-laws inadvertently came to my rescue. Last summer they were taking Husband and I on a tour of the little farm they inherited. We came across a junk pile and tut tutted its existence. Then I spied some bricks amongst the beer bottles and junk in the pile.

“Hey Dad, what are you going to do with the bricks?” I asked.

“Get rid of them, throw them out I suppose.” He said.

“Can I have them?” I asked.

Husband gave me a look that was a mix between this could be being good or it could kill my back.
I loaded up as many bricks as the trunk of our car could hold. Two trips later, I had enough bricks to make a dry stack garden border around my flower beds.


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How to Make a Dry Stack Brick Garden Border

Making a dry stack garden border is easy. Especially if someone else digs the trench first! Something I recommend by the way – always try to get someone else to do the dirty digging work.


  1. Dig a shallow trench bordering the garden bed that is as wide as your brick or stone.

  2. Place a shovelful of sand in the trench and tamp it down w/ either a tamper (you can rent one of these) or a brick. This will allow bricks to shift a bit when the ground freezes and thaws in cold weather without the border falling over (guess how I know this?)

  3. Place the first row of bricks in the trench. Check that they are even height with a level or against a length of string tied between two temporary stakes in the ground. Add or remove a bit of sand underneath the brick if you need to adjust the height.

  4. Offset the second row of bricks from the first row of bricks. Use a half of brick on the ends to keep the wall nice and flush.

  5. Keep on stacking rows of bricks until you’ve reached the desired height or run out of bricks.

This is an excellent first step in turning my nasty clay soil into a functioning raised flower bed.


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I think our lawn service is using blind goats to cut the grass. Can you believe that I took this photo right after they mowed our lawn?


I love the look of the well worn brick. I also like that it came from a place that’s been in Husband’s family for at least 50 years, maybe longer. I like that I helped keep something useful from cluttering up a landfill. Best of all I like the price – free!

This post is part of Thrifty Green Thursday.