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View Full Version : Using rip rap for landscape border?


mike all together
07-17-2010, 12:00 PM
We went and got some varying rip rap (pic below) that we'd like to use to set up a landscaping border in our front yard. I was curious if anyone had any tips on how to best do this. I didn't really find any pointers online for the process since this would be a good bit different than lining up pre-cut landscaping stone.

What I'm thinking, which is probably off, is:

We lay the stones out where we want them
Cut the sod around them
Pick them up and remove grass, as necessary.
Dig into ground slightly to lay the rocks in the dirt (how deep?)
Lay the rocks into the dirt area

Now, they wouldn't be pressed together perfectly at all places due to their varying size, so what steps would be effective in attempting to stop the bermuda from growing into the landscaping area? Would digging a really deep line where the rocks go and putting some kind of plastic edging into the dirt help?

Also, we'll lay down the mulch in the actual landscaped area. Would we wnat to put anything between the mulch and the rock to help stop the mulch from washing out through any gaps in the rock during heavy rain? Any suggestions for that?

Any other tips would be appreciated... I'm just now starting to think out how I'd like to do this, so I know there are probably (quite) a few things I'm missing.

I've also attached pictures of where our landscaping will go, in case that helps. It won't be in a rectangle like that... we just had the sod laid around the general area and we're going to cut/move, as necessary.

While I appreciate all feedback (due to the awesome advice you all tend to give here!), if you plan to post regarding asthetics of using that type of rock at all, it won't be necessary. We're going to lay it out and see how we like it. If it ends up looking like crap, we'll go with something else in its place.

DiSantolandscaping
07-17-2010, 12:18 PM
Id put down the plastic edging and put some landscaping fabric on the rest to stop the weeds and crap from growing up through the mulch and rocks.

Think Green
07-17-2010, 08:24 PM
This uneven basic border of rock will only allow grass to grow between them and invade the mulch. You can use colmet steel edging to outline that boxbed first and then place the stones around the perimeter.........but you are still going to have to floss those stones after mowing.

georgiagrass
07-17-2010, 11:32 PM
This uneven basic border of rock will only allow grass to grow between them and invade the mulch. You can use colmet steel edging to outline that boxbed first and then place the stones around the perimeter.........but you are still going to have to floss those stones after mowing.


ditto. Bad plan.

ACA L&L
07-18-2010, 01:46 AM
why nt mortar them in with a small footing to keep grass from creeping in, i would of chose a larger rock to work with, one that could be built with mortar.....or an entirley diffrent edging.

Think Green
07-18-2010, 09:28 AM
Furness,
Good advice but on a hunch here.........this photo looks like a spec home- first time install for landscapes. There isn't much money allocated out for the landscape or else they would want something more permanent.
I am not banishing this poster.......I see these types of landscapes installed by low cost builders and DIY homeowner's. If I were to mortar in any type of stone-it wouldn't be this stuff. TOO UNEVEN!!!

trdtundra00
07-18-2010, 11:42 AM
when a customer wants to use rocks like that for border, we cut the bed to the shape we want it, then place the rocks an inch or 2 inside the bed line. this leaves us enough room to edge the bed with trimmers like we normally would on a bed with no rock border keeping any grass from intruding and leaving a nice crisp looking edge while retaining the look of the border.

bradseabridge
07-18-2010, 12:38 PM
when a customer wants to use rocks like that for border, we cut the bed to the shape we want it, then place the rocks an inch or 2 inside the bed line. this leaves us enough room to edge the bed with trimmers like we normally would on a bed with no rock border keeping any grass from intruding and leaving a nice crisp looking edge while retaining the look of the border.

That's what I do as well.

mike all together
07-23-2010, 06:29 AM
Thank you for the responses. I was looking, instead, at doing concrete curbing but can't find anyone to do it. We only need about 30ft done and don't have a tree in the front to bring the square footage up a bit. No one I've found is close enough that they'd do it for their regular price for that size of job - they all want to throw a $300 minimum in there, which isn't worth it.

So, going back to the rip rap idea...

When using the trimmer, whether plastic or metal, are you talking about leaving it sticking out like it's normally done when people use only the edging for their beds? I think that'd look pretty tacky in front of the stone, obviously. How deep can I put it in the ground before worrying about the grass just going over it (or, better, what's the smallest amount I can have out of the ground)?

White Gardens
07-23-2010, 08:54 AM
Now, they wouldn't be pressed together perfectly at all places due to their varying size, so what steps would be effective in attempting to stop the bermuda from growing into the landscaping area? Would digging a really deep line where the rocks go and putting some kind of plastic edging into the dirt help?





I think they'll look good. My only other suggestion for aesthetics is to use a larger cobble stone such as 6 inch river rock or granite pieces.

I would cut a trench about 4 inches deep where you plan on putting the rock. Then I would mix up type S mortar and fill the trench one bag at a time. It looks like you would need three bags.

Then set your stones in the mortar. Basically it will give you a curb edge to help keep the grass out and the mulch in. Be careful though and try to keep the mortar low so it doesn't show terribly bad when you are done.

Just setting them in dry isn't going to do you any good. They'll move and the grass will work in between them.

cgaengineer
07-23-2010, 09:16 AM
ditto. Bad plan.

I agree....every time I see rip-rap bed edging it makes me sick...its always grown up with grass and noway to trim it. I would go the least expensive option which would look better and that is use a shovel and dig a bed edge. 86 the rocks, it looks unnatural. Rip-rap is for erosion prevention not bed edging.

mike all together
07-23-2010, 05:50 PM
I agree....every time I see rip-rap bed edging it makes me sick...its always grown up with grass and noway to trim it. I would go the least expensive option which would look better and that is use a shovel and dig a bed edge. 86 the rocks, it looks unnatural. Rip-rap is for erosion prevention not bed edging.

With the trench idea, would you mind explaining the best route to go in digging this out? What angle in which direction do I cut the trench to ensure the grass stays separated from the mulched bed?

I've looked online for a bit now but I've struggled to find good pictures to go with the limited instructions to give me a good practical explanation. Yes, I need pictures. I'm that guy.

I'm actually warming to this idea, as it'd look nice and it'd put more of a focus on the bed rather than the border.

cgaengineer
07-24-2010, 07:35 AM
Send me a PM with your email and I'll shoot you a picture.
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macgyver_GA
07-26-2010, 01:48 PM
Trying to fight bermuda from growing into the beds is a battle you are never going to win. You need a barrier that goes at least 4" below the soil-line. I have a 4-5" deep X 6" wide trench around my beds and I edge it weekly with a stick edger. I still get a few runners from time to time but the trench REALLY helps keep the bermuda out of my beds. I have some landscape edging around the trees on the backside of my backyard burried about 3" below the soil and the bermuda still gets under it. I'm going to rip that stuff out and trench those as well when I do the next mulch job on my yard.
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JCinNC
07-26-2010, 02:40 PM
I did this at my house. I still hate it, just no $$ to do it right. The only way I've been able to keep the weeds out of the rocks is RoundUp. Another bonus is that occasionally you "bump" one of the smaller stones and it rolls under the mower deck making quite the racket.

cgaengineer
07-26-2010, 02:56 PM
I did this at my house. I still hate it, just no $$ to do it right. The only way I've been able to keep the weeds out of the rocks is RoundUp. Another bonus is that occasionally you "bump" one of the smaller stones and it rolls under the mower deck making quite the racket.

I had a customer with the same edging and the same thing happened to me, the rip-rap rolled under the mower. I told this customer that I would trim what I could, but I would not floss their rocks.
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ACA L&L
07-26-2010, 07:42 PM
you can always go with some landscape timbers, or get creative and use a tree and cut it into 1ft-2ft sections and bury them alternating there height.............again not what i would do but have seen done nicely before. the timbers might be your best bet here.

mike all together
07-27-2010, 06:16 AM
Thanks for the advice, everyone. We ended up going with a trench. I'm pretty damn happy with it, especially considering our amateurness with landscaping (and, really, tool use in general). It took quite a few hours this weekend, but it was worth it!

Still need to get some more mulch, but other than that.

cgaengineer
07-27-2010, 07:06 AM
One thing to do is to taper the trench back towards the inside of the bed...also keep your radius large so you can get a mower around the bends.
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mike all together
07-27-2010, 07:42 AM
One thing to do is to taper the trench back towards the inside of the bed...also keep your radius large so you can get a mower around the bends.
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Towards the bed, huh? I used a square/flat shovel and did a 90º cut about 6-8" or so down. Then my trench was about that or a little bit wider and then tapered it up from there. I wanted to be sure I had good separation from the bermuda. Wouldn't angling toward the bed allow the roots to run through the dirt a little easier since there'd be less depth and less mulch to separate it?

You confused me on the radius part. The radius is large except the middle where it curves back in, but that won't be a problem with the mower. It sucks, though, I wanted to keep that grass area beside the sidewalk because I thought it looked bad originally when they had the bed going right up against it. But now I'm going to have an issue with being able to mow that slice on the right side. Without re-doing the shape of the bed, I'm not sure what option I really have, aside from just carefully using a weed eater there?

I did get a 7-blade push reel, but I haven't used it yet (sod just got laid on the 15th). Perhaps it'll work pushing it along that little area if I hold it evenly with one wheel in the air. That's probably a recipe for burnt grass, though.

cgaengineer
07-27-2010, 07:53 AM
Sounds like you did the taper correctly...hard to see pics on a phone.

The radius will be difficult to mow due to the tightness of it but you can use a trimmer...the reel mower idea won't work because it has a differential and when one wheel isn't touching the ground the reel won't spin, even if it did work it would not be easy to do.

I don't know how large your lawn is but I have a feeling a push reel mower is going to wear you out. Have you thought about a powered model? You can pick them up pretty cheap on Craigs List.
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macgyver_GA
07-27-2010, 11:45 AM
A good rule of thumb when cutting beds is to always use obtuse angles. It makes mowing easier and eliminates those tight spots of grass where you can't fit a mower and have to use a trimmer. My beds serpentine around my whole house so I can make one pass around house with the edger. I start on the left side of the driveway and edge all the way around the house until I get back to the other side of the driveway. You should be ok with a small mower and a trimmer but anything bigger and you probably wanna re-assess the radius of your curves. I plan on re-doing some of my beds this year since my 36" walk behind doesn't turn as tight as my 21" obviously. Especially when doing circles around the trees I need to make the radius larger.
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