When it comes to a border for your landscape, the options can be overwhelming. Choosing the correct border can really make a landscape pop. We try to keep it simple for our customers by recommending popular, trusted border solutions. Most of our customers use natural rock, plastic, metal, or concrete blocks. The specific rock selections, or colors and sizes of materials can significantly differ from supplier to supplier. We can help our customers find the best quality products for their landscape borders at the right price, and then get them installed correctly.
The Cons and Pros of Various Landscape Border Options
Black plastic landscape edging is by far the least expensive option we offer. Installation of black plastic edging around the landscape beds is relatively fast. When considering dollars spent per foot of border, it is also the least expensive. The ability of black plastic edging to retain mulches or gravels in a landscape is mediocre. Life expectancy on a black plastic edging can run anywhere from 5 to 15 years, with many exceptions of course. Not all black plastic landscape edgings are made equal. Commercial grade black plastic landscape edging is not available at the big box hardware stores. Some local farm and home stores or nurseries may carry a commercial quality edging, but we procure our black plastic edging from a wholesale landscape supplier which is unavailable to retail customers. Our edging comes with high quality stakes to secure it in place and couplings to connect pieces together for longer runs. Black plastic edging is the best option for those customers who would like an inexpensive, yet classy border for their landscape. In general, the black plastic landscape edging tends to be very nonchalant and somewhat functional for a decent number of years.
Metal edging comes in both green and brown strips. We are not a fan of metal edging for landscapes. Metal landscape edging is more expensive than black plastic. It doesn’t make radial turns very easily. It also doesn’t make straight runs very easy. It’s connection points are usually not perfectly straight. Each strip of metal landscape edging makes a “v” shape with the next strip at the connection points. In general, the installations don’t usually look as good as some other options can because of the stiffness of the metal.
The metal does last a long time, but we find that fact to be irrelevant when considering how fast it comes out of place or how often it never looks quite how it should be after initial installation. When it comes to retaining mulch or gravel, the metal edging has two main flaws. It tends to lean over quite easily, sometimes leaning almost parallel with the ground, virtually making it worthless for retention purposes. In the rare event it is installed firm enough not to lean over, the metal edging commonly will lose material through the gaps that end up at the connection points. If we can’t talk you out of the metal edging, we are happy to install it for you. We suggest avoiding this type of material if at all possible.
Concrete retaining wall blocks come in a few different sizes: tiny, standard, and large. The tiny wall blocks are cute, but are not commonly used in a professional landscape because they come out of place very easily. The middle range or standard size (4″ tall x 12″wide x 8″ deep) can be utilized for both small retaining wall or raised bed construction or to simply border a landscape. We try to limit the use of concrete retaining wall blocks to the construction of landscape walls and beds because these types of blocks look best leveled. We do occasionally use them as landscape borders and simply install them flush, but flowing with the grade of the land. The cost for this tends to be similar to the price of natural rock borders, but with far less long term value because the blocks break down faster than natural rock.
We limit the use of large concrete blocks to retaining walls and raised bed construction. Sometimes a raised bed made from retaining wall blocks is necessary to overcome grade or slope issues in a landscape. This is a good type of landscape to consider bordering with this type of block. While stacked stone should be based and leveled, the flat areas of the landscape can match the stacked stone material while only being set flush with the grade of the land. Retaining wall blocks will typically last 15-30 years, but they may need to be re-set once during that period if set flush and not based and leveled for a wall.
Natural rock materials usually add the most value to a landscape. When considering the useful life of a landscape border, natural rock lasts the longest by a few decades. Natural rock does not stack as well as concrete blocks, but it makes an amazing border. There are quite a few different types of natural rock to choose from when creating your landscape border. We recommend using stone which is cut to approximately 4 inches by 4 inches (a 4″x4″ stone) and comes in various lengths. Random sized and shaped stones don’t usually make for a very clean landscape border, so we try to avoid using field stones or those sandstone rocks that were found digging in the yard. However, since field stones have been so popular in the past, we do have some techniques that can really improve the way they look once installed. The shades and colors of natural rocks change regularly depending on where they are mined. These constant color changes hold true even when the material is coming from the same quarry. Quarries can be so large that there is a difference in mineral content and thus color from one side to the other. So although natural rock prices only appreciate, and natural rock will last 30 – 50+ years as a landscape border, it may be tough to match that rock in the near future, not to mention 50 years down the road. Of course, natural rock borders are a little more expensive than everything else, with this particular option you will certainly get the most value for your money.
Installing the right landscape borders will make a pretty landscape look phenomenal. Set up a free estimate and hear what our experts recommend at your house and why.