Using bricks to create an edging between flower bed and lawn.

We've bought a house where the garden is a bit of a jungle and I'm planning to clean it up and have a lawn surrounded by flower beds on 3 sides with bricks as an edging between the lawn and beds.
The garden is rectangular approx 29 feet by 19 feet. Should I put the bricks length ways or width ways? I'm worried if I put them width ways that it'll look like a 9 inch path around the lawn and may dominate such a small garden but my girlfriend says the flowers and grass will grow over the edges and they won't be so obvious. Any suggestions?
What do I bed the bricks on , simply lay them on the soil or should I create a sand or mortar base?
Also for a small garden of this size what width should the flower beds be? We were thinking about 3 feet wide which should be enough for some shrubs 3-6 feet high and climbers close to the fence with some bedding plants at the front. Any advice greatly appreciated.
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DIY Novice wrote:

If you're just going to let things grow over the edging, then why bother with the edging at all?
And the issue isn't really the width, but the depth. The purpose of the edging is to prevent infultration of the hardest to remove weed of them all into your flower beds: grass. Most grass spreads by the use of runners, and edging is used to block those runners. Edging that doesn't go deep enough doesn't do it's job.
So if you're going to use bricks, you wouldn't lay them side by side or end to end. You'd stand them up, with most of the brick being below the surface. As for whether you go face to face or side to side, it's personal taste.

How permanent do you want it to be? And how easy do you want repairs to be?

If you have any sides against buildings, leave enough room so you can get between whatever you plant, and the building. After that, anything less than 3', in my opinion, would look goofy. Also be aware of any utility easements near property edges. Anything you plant over those easements may some day be unceremoniously removed for utility maintenance. That's not to say you can't plant over a utility easement. You just need to understand how that easement may be used. You also need to use care when digging near underground utilities, and the effect of nearby tree roots on things like sewer lines.
What you plant, and how you arrange it depends on what kind of a garden you're trying to create. If you have just straight edges, you may want a formal, and somewhat symmetrical look. If you have curved edges, you'd probably want something less formal. Can/are the beds viewed from the other side? You may want to consider that as well.
And how much work do you want to do? The beds may require some intense work at the beginning or ends of certain seasons, but the grassy lawn is going to need continuous work, and require far more water than many choices for the beds. If you want low maintenance, and lower long-term costs, maximize the bed space, and minimize the lawn. If you have a curved edge, and some places where the beds are too wide to work from the outside, you can provide paths radiating into those wide parts.
You may be able to find a large garden center in your area that can provide advice on what to do. It's not unusual for them to provide basic design services, along with plant lists, if you're willing to buy the plants from them. A good designer can help you make choices that match what you like, and consider how much work you want as well. They may even be able to suggest stages for building if it's too much work/money to do it all at once. And choose plants that will work in your climate and soil conditions as well. That's hard for a novice to do with general advice from folks around the world who've never met you.
--
Warren H.

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (DIY Novice) expounded:

I've got brick borders around my 3' wide gardens, widthwise, and it looks fine. Makes a great mowing border, too.

I've got stonedust beneath them, but the grass still invades, at least once every two years I lift the bricks, pull the grass and resettle them with more stone dust (I have a never-ending supply of stone dust).

If you can go wider, then do. Four feet is better than three, three is a bare minimum.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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DIY Novice wrote:

I thought you said the garden was 29 by 19? Where did the 3 feet wide come from?
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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How you put them in place depends on the soil. I put mine in 20 years ago, just pressing them into the existing soil. They're still flat. A thought: Put them level with the lawn so you can ride two wheels of the mower on them. No more string trimmer.

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Why even bother with the bricks? I cut a bevel around my beds. The mower wheel rides in the beveled edge and it gets trimmed when I mow the lawn. Once a year I use a sod lifter to sharpen the bevel. It takes only a few minutes to do an entire bed. I think that the bricks will be a big job to install right, and the bricks and supplies will be costly - then, there is the maintenance. I would rather spend my time, effort, and money on plants and soil amendments rather than tending bricks. Also, when you decide to change the size or shape of the bed, you will have to reconfigure the bricks.
I also think that a three foot wide bed is way too small. For a natural looking landscape you need some taller shrubs or trees, an understory planting of smaller shrubs and perennials, and some groundcover plants. You will find that your 3-6 foot shrubs will be 4-6 feet wide in a few years and/or you will spend a lot of time trimming them to contain their size. The smaller plants in front will be overwhelmed by the scale of the tall shrubs in the narrow space. Before long it will all look very overgrown. I think that six or eight feet is a better minimum size if you have the room. I have to live with the limitations of a strangely shaped lot and have some narrow beds. I have a bigger problem selecting plant material for the narrow beds and find the constraints very frustrating and limiting.
I would recommend that before you start designing beds and laying the bricks, that you visit some display gardens. You can often find great gardens at historic houses, municipal gardens, and private garden tours. Take your camera, a tape measure, and some paper for notes. Unless your house is very formal, I would avoid making rigidly geometrical beds with consistent width. I would avoid strict symmetry. Think about leaf texture, size, and color because that's what you will be looking at most of the time. Think about 4 season interest. Think about the negative spaces that connect the bed and how it all relates to the house.
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absolutely. I just got thru digging up and removing over 2000 bricks from my mothers flower beds so we will just run an edger along there once or twice a year and follow along with a wet/dry vac to pick up the cuttings. bricks dont stop plant creep in both directions. Ingrid

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How you put them in place depends on the soil. I put mine in 20 years ago, just pressing them into the existing soil. They're still flat. A thought: Put them level with the lawn so you can ride two wheels of the mower on them. No more string trimmer.

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How you put them in place depends on the soil. I put mine in 20 years ago, just pressing them into the existing soil. They're still flat. A thought: Put them level with the lawn so you can ride two wheels of the mower on them. No more string trimmer.

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How you put them in place depends on the soil. I put mine in 20 years ago, just pressing them into the existing soil. They're still flat. A thought: Put them level with the lawn so you can ride two wheels of the mower on them. No more string trimmer.

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DIY Novice Wrote:

Ok point one i'd make is about the jungle. There IS some basic tips can give withoout seeing the garden. 1) Do not ever hack off limbs. bye that I mean leaving stubs of limbs anything you prune you should take back to the 'collar', the area a the base of the limb you're going to prune off. Start at the base an work your way up, expose trunks, thety are beautiful take off anythin that looks weak, dead or unhealthy, if you prune this way you'll b surprised at how much light you'll let in. And you wont have a garde that looks bloody awful for the next six months and then leaves yo back where you started. 2) don't let plants invade each others space if trees or bushes gro into each other seperate them with some judicious pruning. The key t an attractive garden is the same as an attractive body, 'definition'.
3) Do you really really need a lawn? They are high maintenance area and are best described as 'green deserts'. Garden beds seperated b paths, which even in a small garden should not be narrow, are far mor interesting for adults children and pets. Paths should be at leas 1metre wide.
If you feel you MUSt have a lawn, bricks will not keep the grass out that makes no difference if they are placed width or length ways Neither for that matter will concrete kerbing or anything else. Garden can really soak up money, dont spend what you dont have to. The edge o the lawn is best as path. this can be sawdust. If you have a metre wid strip around the lawn you'll be able to see the grass encroaching. I you dont want to do this then a simple edge is fine. a sharply cut edg to the grass and a furrow along the garden bed side. Done well grass ca be trained to not cross it. (This is a BIG lie, but relatively speakin you can believe it ;-). The trouble with Bricks is that the grass wil grow through it and when you weed it just makes more work. Concret kerbing is worse, because it cant be moved it simply protects gras roots which wil sprout as soon asyou tear off what's on the othe side.
Try to keep like with like in your garden, keep plants with simila foliage but get contrast with different colours of foliage, dont worr about flowers, if it doesn't have a nice flower nurseries wont stoc it, but they are temporary, foliage is all year.
It's like in the house, the big things are, ideally in the same style The wardrobe matches the bed, The dinner table matches the sideboard And on the mantle piece the little things can be eclectic.
Hope that helps :-)
-- godwin
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The bricks *do*, however, provide a surface on which to roll the lawnmower wheels, which makes fast work of edging.
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very very true. my mother did this. we inherited her gardens, pulled up all the bricks and simply run an electric edger along the beds a couple times a season. to preserve the "look" of a wider edging I would put plastic or thick layer of newspaper and put mulch on top. Ingrid

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