When one is considering options for patio edging, the elements of form and function come into play. The purpose of edging material is to hold the patio elements in place, and it must be durable throughout all sorts of weather, foot traffic and volume of use. The patio edging is usually placed lower into the ground than the patio material to create a stable structural barrier between the patio and surrounding area, and it contributes to the decorative style and mood of the landscape as well. It's a transition between the patio and the yard and can be used to unify different parts of the lawn as a subtle design feature. Materials such as brick, wood, stone, concrete and plastic are all great options for patio edging.
Bricks are the easiest type of edging to use. They can be placed around the edges of the patio with most of the brick underground, and they can be set vertically, horizontally or at angles, depending on the desired effect. If the soil is firm, it can be heavily packed around the bricks to hold them in place. If the soil around the patio is fine or sandy, the bricks should be placed into about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of wet mortar. There are many different types of bricks, and bricks composed of materials that will stand up to the climate are a wise choice.
Wood is a common patio and yard edging. Simple pieces of rot-resistant lumber work well. Heartwood of cedar, redwood or pressure-treated lumber is the best choice for wood edging that will last a long time.
Logs, railroad ties, heavy timbers or wood posts can be placed horizontally around the patio for a rustic look. These can also be cut into smaller segments and set vertically in a row with their ends placed underground in concrete to form a series of miniature pilings. Soil can then be packed around the pilings, and a long capping piece can be laid across the tops to prevent water from entering the rough ends.
An easy and informal patio edging can be made from rocks, field stones or boulders. The stones should be arranged in the desired pattern first. Then hole to fit the size of each stone should be dug, with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of mortar at the bottom for setting the stone. Another option is for one to simply place the stones on top of the soil and fill the spaces between them with smaller rocks. The soil should be packed tightly around the stone configurations, and plantings can be added to help strengthen the structures.
Concrete edging makes a great patio retaining wall and an easy-to-mow patio border. If the concrete border is set level with the ground, the mower wheels can run along the top of the concrete, and the blade can cut the grass with no trimming necessary. Another advantage of concrete edging is that the concrete can be colored during mixing to customize the look of the edging.
If no visible patio edging is desired, manufactured plastic edgings are easy to install. The plastic strips are versatile and can be bent for gentle curves or tight corners and covered with sod or soil. They usually are held in place with spikes.