Thursday, June 9, 2011

Field Stone Edging DIY

 Adding Field Stone Edging - Down and Dirty
I've decided to do a technical blog post to share some of the knowledge I've learned over the years. I know its not rocket science but it does take some common sense and grunt power.  My demonstration will show effort I am putting into my own landscape, so the effort probably isn't a professional defined effort. In other words it's Down and Dirty. If I was getting paid for this it would be more refined.

First things first. Find some stone. Mine comes from the ditch, as my residence is in the Flint Hills of Kansas, limestone everywhere. Ditch stone is also defined as field stone, not refined, trimmed, blocked, or cut. Very irregular in thickness. If you have  some cash, buy from a stone yard as most of their product is picked and stacked with more uniform sizes and thicknesses. 
Notice how this stone is thicker on one end than the other: typical field stone. Beggars can't be choosers. I also got some from a neighbor I gave pass along plants to. What's good for the goose...enough of the cliche's!...
After laying out your outline or form along your border or planting bed(I like to use white spray paint), excavate deep enough for a 2-3" layer of gravel and a 2" layer of base material. And the thickness of your stone. Have quite a few stones laid out near you work area for selection. 
After excavating, add gravel for expansion and a solid base. I prefer 3/4" crushed limestone at 2-3" thickness. Unfortunately all I had was river rock which is more rounded but it will work fine too. Compact with a tamper and make somewhat level. More than likely the grade of the gravel will change because of the irregular thickness of the field stone. That is one reason why purchased stone is mo better.
On top of the gravel add some form of base material. I use gravel screenings from crushed limestone. Screenings are usually left over from the gravel sizing process and is leftover material. Sand can also be used. Tamp this 1-3". Tip on field stone: if you make this layer a little thicker you'll have more wiggle room in thickness when you add the irregular thicknesses of field stone.
Add the selected stone to the compacted area. 
Scratch or mark the area to be trimmed. Have cold chisels and handy hammer ready. Strike scratched line with hammer on chisel lightly the first pass, some people strike both sides or use a hand grinder to form a break line. Cross my fingers hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.?.  Hope it breaks straight.
Well, I got most of it right. When striking be sure the stone is stable with no space underneath the stone.
Place in excavation, tamp a little, not too much or it may crack. Top of stone should be level with existing grade. This is dependent on the slope. I usually use a torpedo level to check the heights between the stones laid. You can see I added chips in the gaps between the stones. You could use soil and add plants, add base material, or could use gravel.
Lastly back fill stone with gravel on inside edge for expansion. Level bed with soil removed or with mulch. If you live in a area with warm season grasses like Bermuda, this type of edging is not the best to use as the stolons and rhizomes will venture in. I have added steel edging on the outside of these areas.
Ohh...one more tip. Use your best stones near highly visible areas such as entrances and areas viewed from indoors. Happy Edging!!!
 

25 comments:

  1. I love your edging!! I have a wee bit of stone edging in my front yard that my hubby put together. To me, cool rocks and flowers are just so beautiful. :o)

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  2. I agree. It's so natuurral.

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  3. I love limestone!! You made your edging more professional than me just throwing mine into a formation. We have hauled about 4 flat trailer loads of stone from my folks, who live on the western edge of the flint hills too! The possibilities are endless! I especially love the huge boulders used for accents! Loved your post!

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  4. Your edging looks great and so much work. Very nice!

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  5. Greggo, This looks awesome! Very professional job. (not like my redneck designs, lol) Oh, and welcome to Twitter! It's a great way to connect with gardening folk. Took me a minute to get up to speed, I finally downloaded Tweetdeck which works so much better than the plain twitter pages... I am loving wordpress. some additional functionality but am still concerned about stats, not where they should be. The jury is still out.

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  6. beautiful! i usually curse rock as i'm hauling it out of my vege garden but this is very nice

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  7. csue-yeah its hard to eat rocks
    Chris-thanks for the welcome to twitter. and the comments.
    Karin- it bet our rocks are red?
    Melanie-limestone is great isn't it?

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  8. Karin-i should proofread out loud. I bet your rocks are red?

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  9. Wow - this looks like a lot of work! I suppose it depends on the soil you're digging in. But the end results look fabulous! Very nice, and glad that you mentioned Bermuda grass will go under anything. I love the look in your garden. I think I'm just too lazy to tackle a project like this.

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  10. Wow that looks awesome! I wish I had read this post before I put down some stones in our backyard hee hee.

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  11. Thank you for the tutorial. Your border looks so professional, I don't think I can ever do anything like it. I love your choice of stones, it looks great.

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  12. Holley- Bermuda grass can grow through concrete.
    Stacey- thanks
    Masha- thank you, I enjoyed your vacation photos btw

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  13. Great advice on the steel edging - I wish I had done that years ago as I am troubled now with the grass on the other side of the bricks in the flower bed. I really like how you've done that sweeping border.

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  14. Wow - your stone edging looks fantastic! We have zoysia grass, which is also a creeper, so the steel edging would be a must. But I don't think I would have thought of of putting it adjacent to the stone until I read your suggestion.

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  15. Rosie-What type of turf grass do you have?
    Deb-If you were going to do that you would want your steel to be a little below the stone grade for aesthetic purposes.

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  16. Your edging looks great! I do it the easy/lazy way, which is to take rocks from the rock pile and put them along the edge of the bed. Within a year or two they embed themselves as soil builds up around them, I presume from decaying mulch. Your edging looks more defined, but the casual look fits my woodland garden and relaxed gardening style.

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  17. Great, that is an almost easy tutorial. You should have added "be sure not to hammer your thumb", haha! Hello, i am new here!

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  18. So that's how it's down. Good to know all the little tricks - I'd have just started with stone and no foundation and made a mess!

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  19. You've been working hard! Thanks for the tutorial.

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  20. Lots of elbow grease in this one. The crew I work with does a lot of stonework, and pretty much in the same manner as you. They do projects with stone needing a skidster to move but the base prep is very similar to what you have shown. Your job is very nicely done. Sorry I could not comment when I picked, but work is a little excessive lately. I am just getting back to posts I read previously.

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  21. What a great post! I have been looking at something like this as an option for an area that is narrow and hard to mow, this looks easy to mow next to or even over...Love it!! How lucky to live where this gorgeous stone is found out in nature, it really is beautiful Greggo, you've done a great job! Thanks also for stopping by my WW post last week, being on a lazy vacation made me slack in the comment department...thank you!! Cheers Julia

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  22. You sure have been busy! I enjoyed your post. The border looks awesome!

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  23. Great post. I feel your pain on hoping it doesn't crack when you're trying to cut it. Been there done that with flagstone. It's no wonder we injure our limbs when we do work like this, eh? As I was reading, I was thinking, oh, that would not work with Bermuda, and then you addressed that at the end. Metal edging for sure. But I love the natural look of the stone and I love the curving beds!!! What I like about the look you've created is that the stone is the same grade as the lawn, so it doesn't scream "edging!" When edging sticks up far about the turf level, all you can see is edging and it takes away from a beautiful landscape...in my opinion, of course. Finally added you to my sidebar on my blog. I've been away from blogging for a while (been so busy with gardening!), so now that I'm back I'm adding blogs I enjoy reading -- and yours is one :-) I see I'm on your sidebar, and I appreciate it.

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  24. Great blog post, Greggo. This sort of edging is underused, I think. Especially in areas of the world where rock is not as abundant. Still, the time and effort saved in routine maintenance makes the cost and elbow grease worth it.

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  25. Great post. Thank you. I am researching to do some edging in my garden and your indications are very helpful.

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Thanks for leaving any comments, they are always welcomed. Sorry I had to add word verification as spam was becoming a huge problem. Greggo,