Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How To: Install Steel Edging

The first step was to plan. Measure. Change plans. Draw up the plans on graph paper. Discuss the plans with the Mrs. Erase plans. Argue. Redraw plans. And finally COMPROMISE. (Don't forget that last step, it's the most important!)
Then if you're like us, once the plans are agreed upon, we put off starting the project for several months. It could be due to lack of funding or just not motivated after all the effort put into the planning stage. But eventually the work begins:

We used almost 125 linear feet of 14 gauge steel landscape edging purchased at the favorite big box. It came with pre-attached stakes and in varying lengths of 2, 4, or 8 feet. Also needed were a few corner stakes and end pieces.
Our pathway will be filled with pea gravel, so we also picked up 400lbs of rock while there.
Total cost of materials: roughly $200

Prep Work
After laying out the path, I cleared the are of any plant material, hauling it to the compost bin. This gave us a chance to walk the garden and see if we still like the design before committing to steel. Since the house doesn't sit square to the road, I did a lot of measuring and marking of sight lines making sure the perspective was right.

I started with one end and began snapping off the stakes for each piece as I was going to use it. Don't snap off all the stakes, just the ones you need, that way any unused pieces can still be returned.
Even though I had made careful measurements (even trying to remember pi to figure circle circumferences) things rarely match the diagrams perfectly. So by starting at one end and continuing around the entire outside edge, I could tweak the overall shape before committing it into the ground.
To get a nice two foot wide path, a scrap piece of wood cut to 24 inches helped as a spacer between the two sides.
Once everything was positioned, I used a scrap piece of wood to soften the hammer blows as I drove the steel into the ground. The edging was 4 inches tall and I drove it about halfway into the ground, knowing that it would get backfilled with the pea gravel. If you're using it beside an established lawn, you'll probably want it deeper to avoid the lawn mower blades.

It took me about six hours to install all the steel edging but we had some elaborate configurations and I'm a bit of a perfectionist on the spacing. A simple lawn edging could take just a couple hours. We chose brown but the edging also came in green.

The final step will be laying the pea gravel. Perhaps I can rustle up some friends to help haul rock :)


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