Wood edgings for patios, walkways, paths

Wood edgings (often called header boards) not only make neat demarcations between lawns, flower beds, and other planting areas, but they also make handsome edging and division strips for brick, concrete, or other garden paving. Here are some suggestions to consider when installing wood edgings:

Use heart redwood or cedar-both are highly resistant to rot. Painting the lumber with a wood preservative before installation will prolong its life; if there are termites in the area, a preservative containing a termite poison may be a good precaution.

To prevent lumber from splitting (particularly stakes), use galvanized box nails (similar to common nails, but thinner).

The most popular edgings are made of 2 by 4-inch lumber, either rough-cut (2 inches thick) or finished (1 ½ inches thick). You can also use 3 by 4 or 4 by 4 lumber for heavier edgings, if no bending for curves is required.

Use stakes of 1 by 2’s, 2 by 2’s, or 1 by 4’s, 12 inches long, and locate them no more than 5 feet apart. Also place one stake close to each corner and on each side of a splice. If your edging simply divides two cultivated areas, you can alternate the stakes on opposite sides of the edging. If it borders a lawn, place all stakes on the sides away from the grass so that you will be able to run a lawn edger along the edging without interference.

To form a curved edging, nail thin, more flexible boards together, staggering the splices, until the laminated board is the thickness desired around the curve. Many lumberyards stock ‘resawn’ boards ( ½ and 1 inch thick) for curved edgings.

The ½-inch resawn boards are usually far from uniform in thickness-they vary from 5/16 to % inch. The trick is to measure the approximate radius of the curve you wish to form, then go to a lumberyard and try bending different 1/2-inch thicknesses to find which will make the best curve.


Loosen off with pick or shovel along stakes and string that have been set up as guide line.

Remove soil carefully so that trench is slightly deeper than the width of the boards.

Splice boards for length of trench on flat surface using 1 by 4’s or 2 by 4’s, 2 feet long.

Drive stakes into ground no more than five feet apart using sledge or heavy hammer.

Drive nails into stake and edging using back-up block of sledge, crowbar lever, rock.

Cut tops of stakes on bevel with a handsaw; top of bevel should be as high as edging.

Replace soil on outside of edg-ing so that it is flush with the top surface of the wood.

Use tamper to pack the soil tightly against the edging and stakes. Leave stakes in place.