In a landscaped garden, edging guides the eye and defines spaces. Although there are many types of edging, brick masonry is one of the oldest, most common materials used in edging. Brick provides an even, classic appearance. With mortar, bricks can provide a more permanent, solid addition to landscaping than does plastic or dry stone edging. Although it takes some effort to build or repair brick edging, but the end result will provide many years of beauty.
Types of brick
There are four main types of brick: building, face, paver and firebrick. Some types are well-suited for edging and some are not. The most common brick used for edging is the paver brick that is used for paths, drives and patios. Paver bricks are rated I, II and III. Paver brick type III would be the toughest, most reliable type of brick to use. It is able to withstand expansion and contraction of freezing ground as well as heavy traffic. You can use building bricks as long as the brick is rated SX for exterior use.
There are as many ways to create brick edging as you can imagine. Some people simply lay bricks end-to-end flush with the ground. This pattern can be mowed over easily. For more division between bedding areas and grass, place bricks vertically with 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) sticking out of the ground. You can create a sawtooth pattern by leaning each brick over about 45 degrees. You can also use bricks to make a mowing strip. Place one line of bricks flush with the ground, side by side. Place another line of bricks vertically at the head of the first line. This allows a lawnmower wheel to run atop the flush bricks, trimming the edge of the lawn.
Installation methods and tips
Installing mortared brick edging is not as complicated as building a brick wall, but it does take a few careful steps to ensure that the bricks are level and sturdy. Create a plan and lay out a level edging line using stakes and string. When digging the trench, make it wide enough for the edging and at least 10 cm (4 inches) deeper than the bottom of the brick. A common method is to use a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of tamped sand and a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of cement to hold the brick in place. Some people use a plywood spacer between each brick and fill in the gaps with more cement or mortar after laying a short line. Others fit the bricks together tightly, with no space between them.
Concrete vs. Mortar
For most simple edging projects, use bags of pre-mixed concrete. Concrete is a combination of cement, sand, water and gravel. When it hardens, it is harder than the bricks themselves. For this reason, some masons prefer to use a base of concrete and then use mortar between the bricks. Mortar also comes in pre-mixed bags, but it includes lime to make the mixture less hard.
You can clean bricks with a pressure-washer when they become dirty or covered with plant growth. If bricks are broken, remove them with a hammer and chisel and replace with new brick. If there is no way to find a matching brick, you can repair old bricks with tinted mortar.