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Garden DIY

Garden DIY projects and ideas that you can try today. Learn how to complete garden DIY projects that make your landscape beautiful and unique.

Solar Mason Jar Lights

Solar Mason Jar Lights

Here’s a quick tutorial for making beautiful solar mason jar lights out of the cheap ($1) plastic solar path lights.

The solar mason jar light project is really simple:

  • Purchase cheap $1 plastic solar path lights. I found mine at Walmart (Westinghouse brand)
  • Drill a hole in the mason jar lid
  • Take the solar path lights apart (we will just use the solar cell, cap and bulb)
  • Customize the jar, lid and cap pieces
  • Assemble the pieces of the solar path light into the mason jar

Materials for Solar Mason Jar Light Project

solar mason jar light
Find cheap solar path lights like these to take apart.

This is one of the easiest projects ever for such a great impact! Let’s get to it!

1: Drill a Hole in the Center of the Mason Jar Lid

drill hole in lid solar mason jar light

I used a 5/16″ drill bit for the Westinghouse brand solar lights. The opening needs to be large enough to fit the solar light into the jar lid without the whole solar cell falling through the top.

drill hole in top solar mason jar light

Take your time and be careful not to push too hard and break the glass. If you purchase the Westinghouse solar path lights, the 5/16″ bit will give you the perfect size to fit the LED light inside the jar. If you think you want the hole a little bit bigger or smaller, here is a handy chart for drill bit hole diameters.

2:  Disassemble the Solar Path Light

solar mason jar light
take path light apart solar mason jar light

The next step is to take the solar path light apart.  Just pull the top off the plastic. We only need the top black plastic piece (circled in red above) to make our solar mason jar lights. Make sure you pull the tab next to the LED light to activate your solar light.

3: Insert the light into the mason jar lid

insert light solar mason jar light

You’ll want to now carefully insert the light into your mason jar lid. If your drilled hole is not perfect, now is the time to add a dab of glue along the mason jar lid. Be sure not to get any onto the light or near the actual hole.

4: Twist the light until it’s all the way onto the mason jar lid

add glue solar mason jar light

It may be a tight fit, so slowly and carefully twist the black plastic until it is snugly up against the lid of the mason jar.

5: Customize Your Solar Mason Jar Lights

solar mason jar light

Here you can see the solar mason jar light at night. In the background you can see one of the dollar path lights. Look at how much brighter my solar mason jar light is. And the quilted mason jar really gives off some cool patterns. You can enjoy these as-is and you’re totally done.

You can also continue to customize your solar mason jar path lights. I stained the mason jars to add color. Then I painted the jar lids to match the plastic solar cell and added a wire and hang the mason jars so I can hang them from an outdoor “chandelier”.

Paint Mason Jars at night with solar lights
Here are my mason jar solar path lights after I stained them with glass paint. I can also hang them from a chandelier.

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How to plant Emerald Green Arborvitae privacy trees (distance, etc)

How to plant Emerald Green Arborvitae privacy trees (distance, etc)

In 2014, I planted 30 ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae privacy trees as a hedge in my backyard. Looking to plant privacy trees of your very own? In this post I’ll be sharing all the nitty-gritty about how to space out, plant and care for your arborvitae.

About Emerald Green Arborvitae

planting emerald green arborvitae privacy trees

‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae is an evergreen in the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). A slim tree of medium height, these arborvitae can reach 14-15′ high and 3-4′ wide. They can be grown in zones 2-7 and make a great privacy hedge.

Update: it’s now 6 years later and my trees look amazing and are super healthy. I only lost 1 of my 30 trees. But, the tragic death was because of an overgrown shrub in my neighbor’s yard that completely took it over.

Emerald green arborvitae in the snow... about 4 years old
Just for fun, here’s a photo of my emerald green arborvitae trees after a snowfall here in Northeast PA. This is about 4 years after planting and they’ve grown about 2 feet. I love how they catch the snow on their branches!

Preparation to plant privacy trees

plant privacy trees
Line up the privacy trees where you want to plant them

Decide on the type of privacy tree

If you are planning to plant privacy trees, the first step is to decide what type of tree or hedge you would like to plant. There are many different options to choose from. If you are unsure, I would recommend going to a local nursery and having someone help you.

Here are some of my favorite narrow evergreen trees for small yards if you don’t think ‘Emerald Green’ is the right choice for you.

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Quick Tip: You’ll love this post you’re looking for more narrow evergreen privacy tree options.

Determine how many trees you’ll need

The next step to plant privacy trees is to determine how many of your chosen tree you will need. This is how I determined it:

  1. First, measure the area that you need to cover.
    This is pretty self explanatory.
  2. Then, decide how far apart you will space them from trunk to trunk.
    I chose Emerald Green arborvitaes for my privacy tree. It’s recommended to plant them 3′-4′ apart to form a privacy hedge when full grown. I chose to plant them 3′ apart from trunk to trunk. You can also ask the nursery how far apart to plant your new trees. 
  3. Determine how far you’ll space them from your fence or property line.
    Since I was planting these along a chainlink fence, I determined that the first tree would be 2′ from the fence line. I could have planted them 1.5′ from the fence but I wanted to give them a little extra room so they didn’t get tangled into the fence.
  4. Map out your planting plan (see below for details).
    With the distance I had to cover, after planting the trees 3′ apart I determined I’d need a 2′ gap at the beginning and end of the row to cover the entire space.

Map out your planting plan

The third step is to draw a little map of your yard. According to your spacing and the placement of the first and last tree, you’ll be able to determine how many you will actually need.

This is an important step when you plant privacy trees. Simply dividing the distance by the amount of trees could give you a fractioned number. If that’s the case, you may need to remove 1 tree from your count and space the first and last trees a little differently. Or, you may need to slightly adjust your spacing to get a divisible number.

Here’s the formula:

Distance to cover ÷ Spacing from Trunk to Trunk = Total # of Trees Needed

plant privacy trees map

You can see on my drawing that one side of my yard is 50′ and the other side (due to my shed) is 40′. Based on the map and placing the first tree 2′ from the fence instead of 3, I determined that I’ll need 13 trees on the 40′ side, and 16-17 trees on the 50′ side. That’s how I got to my total number of 30 trees.

‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae Spacing

I would recommend spacing Emerald Greens between 36″ and 48″ from trunk to trunk. Spacing any closer than 36″ may be harmful to the health of the trees.

My arborvitae are spaced at 36″ apart. I’ve included some photo examples so you can see the difference in spacing as the hedge grows. These are rows of Emerald Greens from all over my neighborhood.

Emerald Green Arborvitae Spacing Examples
Emerald Green Arborvitae Spacing Examples

‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae Growth Rate

‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae have a slow to moderate growth rate (about 6-12″/year). In the first few years after planting, my trees grew at 6″ per year. Once they got established (about 3-4 years after planting), they began growing at a faster rate (about 12″). This is from my personal experience rather than a textbook, though.

These aren’t the fastest growing privacy trees on the market. I do have some other privacy tree recommendations here if you’re looking for other options with faster growth rates. But, just note that fast growing trees aren’t always the best option. They are typically weaker and more prone to disease than trees that grow slowly. Pretty much always, a fast growing tree will have a shorter lifespan than one that grows slowly or at a moderate rate.

Here is a chart with the growth of my Emerald Green Arborvitae Trees

DateApprox HeightApprox Growth (inches)
09-2014≈ 44- 48″
11-2015≈ 50- 54″≈ 6″
04-2016≈ 54- 60″≈ 4- 6″
07-2017≈ 62- 70″≈ 6- 10″
08-2018≈ 74- 82″≈ 12″
10-2019≈ 84- 94″≈ 12″
09-2020≈ 96-108″≈ 12-14″
11-2021 ≈ 106-130″ ≈ 10-22″
Emerald Green Arborvitae Growth Rate in my Yard (Pennsylvania, Zone 6B)

Planting your Emerald Green privacy trees

Stake out the distance

After you get your trees, you’ll have to actually do the work to plant them. The easiest way to do this is to stake out the distance marking where the center of each tree will go. This will keep you on track so that your trees are in a nice straight line (if you want them to be in a straight line, of course).

Measure your root ball

After staking them out, you’ll need to measure how deep the root ball of your tree is. Even if you got trees of the same height, it’s possible to have variance in how big their root balls are.

plant privacy trees

Plant your arborvitae privacy trees so that the root ball is level with the ground surface; maybe a tiny bit above, but never below. By measuring the height of the root ball you know how deep to dig your hole.

Most of my 4′ ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae had root balls that were between 11″ and 13″ deep.

Next, measure the width of your root ball. You’ll want to dig your holes the same depth as the height of the root ball and 2x the width of your root ball.

So if your root ball is 1′ wide and 1′ tall, you will want to dig your hole to be 2′ wide in all directions, and 1′ deep (height of the root ball).

Dig the hole

When you plant privacy trees, use a pick or sharp shovel to dig up the soil, and a tape measure to make sure I was getting to the right width and depth. Once the hole was the right size, I put some water into the hole mixed with some miracle grow, and moved my tree (burlap and all) into the hole.  

My thoughts on burlap…

Now, there is a little controversy surrounding whether you should remove the burlap or not. I decided to leave it on. But I did cut all of the twine and remove that once the tree was positioned. After the twine was removed I loosened the knot at the top of the burlap and pulled it down from the tree about 1/3 of the way. That way, the top of the root ball is exposed from above and the tree can receive water more easily.

plant privacy tree

Pull the burlap off the root a bit once your tree is positioned in the hole. That way, your tree can receive water from above.

You can also completely remove the burlap from the tree. But, loosing but leaving the burlap in-tact was the advice of both the nursery staff and my arborist friend. 🙂

Update: It’s been about 6 years since I planted my trees and leaving the burlap on has not been an issue at all in the growth of my arborvitae.

Put your tree in the hole

Yay! Time to plant your tree. Drop your tree into the hole… you may have to rock it back and forth to get it iinto a good position. Stand back and make sure you like the way it looks because after this point you really can’t change it!

Push the burlap down a bit so that the tree can receive water from above. Or, remove the burlap before you put it in the ground (depending on how you feel about leaving the burlap on).

Then, backfill the hole with your dirt. You can also mix in some nutrient-rich compost with your soil if it’s not the best quality. This will help to feed your trees while still letting them get established in their new soil.

Water the tree thoroughly and move on to the next! Before you know it you will be done! Using this technique I was able to plant about three privacy trees per hour. It took a long time but it was well worth the result.

Watering your newly-planted privacy trees

plant privacy trees

Here’s one of my newly planted ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae with equipped with a Treegator Junior tree watering bag (Amazon link to purchase).

These bags are magical little donuts of wonder and take all of the guesswork out of watering!

One of the toughest things to find is an actual clear cut amount to water these buggers. I searched high and low, and even consulted with an arborist friend I have. Newly planted trees need a lot of water at first, but with that you run the risk of overwatering which will get the roots soggy and cause the tree to die.

My arborist friend suggested that I water a lot the first few days and to make sure that the soil all the way down to the bottom of the root ball is moist (but not soggy). This is 12″ down for most of my trees — that’s a lot of water!  

I watered thoroughly for several days using a hose and also rotating around 2 Treegator Junior bags. These bags will slow release up to 15 gallons of water per tree. Slow watering is the best way to get the soil moist without shocking the tree.

Between my hose and Treegator Jr. watering duo, I able to confirm that the soil was moist about a foot down. To do this yourself, just dig a small hole next to the root ball and check for moisture.

To maintain the tree watering regiment, I purchased soaker hoses (buy on Amazon) and weaved them in and out of my trees. The soaker hose will slow water the trees as well, and it really helps when you’re planting a lot of new trees at once.

water and plant privacy trees

Weave the soaker hose in and out of the trees to evenly distribute the water. The hose can go above or below your mulch.

On the packaging the soaker hose says that 50 minutes of watering a 50′ line will get the water into the soil to a 1/2″ depth. Based on that calculation, I watered the trees for about an hour every other day. One day I do the right side, and the next day I do the left.

It makes sense to set up your own irrigation system rather than stand outside all day and night keeping them watered. I just set my timer on my phone, went about my business and turned off the hose when the timer beeped. It couldn’t be easier.

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After your trees are established you don’t have to be as strict with your watering regiment. I stopped soaker and tree-gator watering my Emerald Greens after two summers. Now, I only water them when it’s very dry and they look thirsty (not very often).

Privacy tree care and maintenance

plant privacy trees - emerald green arborvitae

Using Mulch

Mulching is one of the best things you can do when you plant privacy trees. This really helps your trees retain the water your give them – so they don’t dry out. Use about a 3″ layer of mulch around your arborvitae.

Just make sure you don’t mulch all the way up to the trunk of the tree. Leave at least a 6″ ring around the trunk with no mulch so it doesn’t cause rot or disease.

Fertilizing your Arborvitae trees

You can also fertilize your Emerald Green arborvitae. I am a big fan of Espoma products so I’ve always used Plant Tone (buy on Amazon) to fertilize my arborvitae. This is a 5-3-3 fertilizer, which is 5 parts nitrogen, 3 parts phosphorus and 3 parts potassium. Just follow the instructions on the back of the bag to use it. I fertilize my arborvitae in the spring and sometimes in the fall.

Here is an article with more helpful maintenance tips, including pruning and winter care, so your privacy trees will thrive for years to come!

Annual spring care for Arborvitae

If you chose an arborvitae for your privacy hedge, like me, it’s easy-peasy from year to year. Arborvitae are conifer trees and seasonal needle drop is a normal, healthy thing that will happen to your trees.

In the fall, arborvitae and other conifers shed their oldest (innermost) needles. These needles turn yellow or brown and drop to the ground in late fall – winter. So, each spring I shake out my trees and get all of the dead needles out of the branches (sometimes they get stuck). It takes me about an hour each spring.

Here’s an incredibly short video I made about the annual “maintenance” I perform on these trees.

‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae Photo Gallery

I get many questions about what my trees look like now, so if you’d like to see them, check out this photo album of my trees over the years. The album is ordered by date from newest photos to the oldest so you can see the progression/growth of the trees. Each photo will have a date (click on the little “i” with the circle around it).

For reference, I planted these trees in September, 2014.

If you’re not quite sold on Emerald Greens or privacy trees, in general, check out this post for more privacy solutions to try.

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plant emerald green arborvitae trees for privacy
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Easy porch sconce makeover with spray paint

Easy porch sconce makeover with spray paint

I was looking for a quick weekend curb appeal project now that spring is upon us, and I came up with the idea to paint porch sconces with spray paint. An afternoon later I completely updated my front porch lighting for less than $10!
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How to cut stone caps for a curved retaining wall [with photos]

How to cut stone caps for a curved retaining wall [with photos]

So, you’re probably reading this because you thought creating curved stone landscape borders would be “unique and different.” And with landscaping blocks it’s pretty easy to create that nice, serpentine, curved look you’re going for. But, if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t think about the caps that sit on top of those stone blocks. They’re not so easy to manipulate into a curved shape.

No worries though! In this post I’ll show you how to make cuts in the stone caps so you can finally finish up your project. Once you know the process for measuring/cutting the capstones, it goes pretty quickly. Let’s get to it!

By the way, this was the final step to complete this stone garden border that surrounds my foundation plantings. If you haven’t started your project yet, you may want to read that post first.

Materials Needed to Cut Stone Caps

  1. Stone Caps, and the stone edging already leveled and in-place
  2. Saw: We used a circular saw; an end saw would be better
  3. Diamond masonry blade (high performance), about $15-$20
  4. Pencils (lots of them, you will go through a lot)
  5. Straight edge (I used a 12″ level)
  6. Adhesive to glue the caps onto the wall.

How to Cut Stone Caps: The Process

Obviously, the process to cut stone caps for my landscape border would be much easier if I chose to do a straight line. Nothing wrong with doing a straight line of course. Even with a straight border you’ll likely need to make a few cuts along the way. But, my house is fairly boxy to begin with, so I went with a much more curvy, organic shape.

Which made for a lot of stone caps to cut along the way. Curves are sexy, though. It was totally worth the effort.

Here’s a quick look at the process.

  1. Set the adjacent caps in place
  2. Set the stone cap you need to cut on top so they overlap the adjacent caps.
  3. Mark the underside of the stone cap you are cutting.
  4. Use a saw to cut the caps.
  5. Dry set the cap into place to ensure a good fit.
  6. Repeat the process.
  7. Glue the blocks into place.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? It’s not… I swear.

Before we begin… just know that there are many ways to cut stone caps. This is merely one way.

stone edging collage
Here’s a look at the end result so you can see what the curved block wall looks like from a distance, from the front and from above.

Step 1: Set the adjacent caps.

The first step is to set every other stone cap onto the wall. It probably sounds counter-intuitive… right? Well, following my process will save you a bunch of time. So, set your first stone, then leave a gap, then set your next stone. The trick is to leave enough space in between the two blocks so that a third block will overlap on each side when you set it on top.

By the way, we’re just dry fitting these. Don’t glue them down or anything… yet.

set the adjacent stone caps first
Line up two stone caps right on your wall so that if you set another stone cap on top of them, both sides will have an overhang. This is what it should look like.

Why would you do this, you might be wondering? Well, you’ll be able to cut the same stone on both sides, rather than having to make cuts on every single block. Basically the goal here is to cut every OTHER stone.

So, every opportunity I had, I cut ONE stone on TWO sides, rather than making cuts to both sides of every cap. This definitely saved me time and it turned out really nice!

Make sense?

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Step 2: Set the stone cap you need to cut on top.

Next, you’ll set the stone cap you’ll be cutting on top of those other caps you just laid out. Make sure that it’s overhanging on the left, right, front and back. No gaps at all or this won’t work out.

cut stone caps
So here is your sacrificial block. Just set it on top of the other two blocks and make 100% sure that it overlaps everywhere. If you look at it from above you shouldn’t see any gaps.

You could do this all the way along the length of your retaining wall or stone border. But… it’s probably not going to work out exactly like you planned. Although it will take more time, you’re going to get a much better fit if you cut these blocks one at a time.

So now that we have the capstone in place, onto the next step.

Step 3: Mark the underside of the stone cap you are cutting.

You’ll need a pencil or some sort of marking device to do this part. We’re going to make the marks from underneath the block that’s sitting on top. Lucky we have a bit of a gap to reach into, right?

To make this as easy as possible I’ve broken it down into four steps.

cut stone caps
Four simple steps to getting your blocks marked up for cutting.
  1. Mark the front and back on the right and left sides from underneath. Basically you’ll make a mark where the overhanging cap meets the other cap , so that you get a snug fit. Do this on the front facing and back side of your block.
  2. Now remove your block and flip it over so you can see the faint pencil lines you just made.
  3. Use a straight edge to connect the front and back lines. See.. curved retaining wall with straight cuts! Amazing!
  4. Finally, you will have solid cut lines so you know where to cut the stone.

Step 4: Use a saw to cut your blocks.

So we’re finally ready to make the cuts. And guess what, they are straight cuts, even though the wall is curved. This kind of blew my mind when I thought about it.

I made my dad do this part because, well, wouldn’t you if he offered?

dad cuts stone caps for curved landscape border
Here’s my dad cutting the stone caps with a circular saw. Unlike him, you should be wearing protective eyewear and such. It’s dusty and pieces can fly up and hit you.

Cutting the stone caps is extremely, extremely dusty. Use protective eyewear. Seriously, even if you are watching your dad do it, you still need eyewear.

Cut the caps with your pencil marks facing up.

Spraying a hose at the blade while using the saw will cut down on the dust. So, you may need to bring a friend into your DIY project or make your kid stand there and spray with the hose. It will help for sure.

And… a word of caution. It’s really loud, so don’t do this at 6AM so that all of your neighbors come sleepily stumbling out of your house wondering what all the racket is. Not that I would know…

Another word of caution: make sure that your neighbors don’t have clothes hanging on the line to dry when you do this. The dust will be a magnet for their wet clothes. Not that I would know….

Step 5: Dry set the stone cap into place.

Once your stone is cut to size, it’s time to set it into place to make sure that it fits!

set the cut stone cap into place
Here, we’re dry fitting the cut cap in between the other two that we laid out in step 1. You want to make sure it’s a good fit before you move on!

Look at that… it’s a perfect fit.

Depending on the tightness of your curves, you may also need to cut the back area to make the face of your stone line up with the others. I had to do this a few times. By “I” I mean my dad had to.

Overall, if you choose a style that has a little wear and tear/tumbled look to it, the minor imperfections become quite charming. I’m a believer that nothing is ever going to be perfect and strive to set myself up for SUCCESS in my projects. In other words: don’t sweat the small stuff.

If you’re happy with your first cut, we’re ready for the next step!

Step 6: Repeat the process.

cut stone cap
Here are all the caps cut and dry fitted in place. You can see I had to cut pretty much every other block. I also need to cut my grass…. don’t judge.

Slow and steady wins the race here. I did this one block at a time so that I had a really nice, tight fit.

You can see that for the most part I had to cut every other cap. I just kept a slight overhang for some added interest on the “tiered” parts. 

These are all just “dry fitted” for now.

Step 7: Glue the blocks into place.

After you’ve cut everything and dry-fitted it, you’re ready to do the final step: glue the blocks into place. This is a good idea if you want the wall to stay looking nice.

In full transparency, I didn’t glue mine into place for like… 6 months. I might have been longer…. it was a really long time. And, I bumped them with the lawn mower like every time I cut the grass because I’m a bull in a China shop. So, I was forever fitting them back into place and creating all this extra work for myself.

So, the moral is… if you take the time to cut stone caps, take the time to glue stone caps. Use an adhesive like Liquid Nails landscape block, stone & timber adhesive. When I finally got around to gluing them down, this is what I used.

cut stone caps
6+ months later, I finally glued the capstones into place and closed the book on this DIY project!

In the end, this is how it turned out. What do you think?

Overall this wasn’t a difficult project to do… other than cutting the blocks with the saw because you need two people and it gets so dusty. But all in all I think it’s pretty neat that you can make straight cuts and turn them into a curved wall!

Also… if you haven’t laid the other blocks yet be sure to check out my post on leveling and setting the stone border. You’ll need to do that, first, obviously!

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Stone Edging as a Landscape Border

Stone Edging as a Landscape Border

Boosting curb appeal takes only a weekend or two with this great DIY stone edging solution for your landscape border.

What’s the purpose of stone edging, or any garden edging?

The main purpose of adding edging to your landscape or garden borders is to make it look nice and add some curb appeal. But there are other reasons, too! Here are some other reasons you may consider garden edging:

  • make it easier to cut your grass – less trim work
  • keep your grass, soil, and mulch in place
  • accentuate parts of your garden so they stand out
  • define the shape and form of the landscape you’ve created
  • keep your dog, kids, neighbors, or mailman (this is big for me!) from trampling your garden

Landscape Edging Materials

Well, really this is a personal choice. There are lots of options available for edging… some are conventional, and some are really wild! A couple ideas for your edging include:

  • stone edging/paver border (obviously I would mention this, because it’s what I used!)
  • stone edging using actual stones you find
  • concrete curb edging
  • flexible rubber edging
  • brick edging
  • wood edging
  • glass bottle edging
stone edging and garden edging
There are many types of stone edging, as well as other options like wood, concrete, rubber, and more!

Not only are there many materials available for edging, but once you decide on your material there are MORE options. Decisions, Decisions! If you choose to work with stone edging like I did, you’ll then need to decide:

  • the shape of the stone
  • the color of the stone
  • the size of the stone
  • How high will you stack the stone edging?
  • Will you use a brick like pattern, or something more organic and flowing?
  • Do you want to use various sized stones, or do you want the stone edging to look uniform?
Stone edging
Here is the paver edging that I purchased for this project at Home Depot.

I chose a basic stone edging from the big box store for less than $2/each. The stones are multicolored and shaped like a trapezoid (who said you’d never use geometry in real-life)! 

Because of the tapered shape of the stone, I was able to turn them so they would create a curve. It’s more difficult to do this with straight bricks.

Tools & materials for stone paver edging project

I needed quite a few materials for my stone edging project:

  1. A garden hose, rope or string, to map out the lines of the garden bed
  2. Levels! I used a 3′ level, a smaller 8″ box level, and also line levels for this project
  3. Pick axe, hoe, or a dog — you need something to dig into your soil.
  4. Stone edging material — and the caps that go with the stone edging (if you like the look of mine)
  5. Hammer and/or wooden mallet
  6. Paver Base (enough for a 2″ base in the trench you dig for your edgers)
  7. Paver Sand (enough to make a 1” layer on top of the paver base)
  8. Garden Gloves
  9. Tamper (buy on Amazon)
  10. Chisel  — in case you need to make cuts to the stone edging (I like this 3 piece set)

How to Install Your Stone Edging Border

stone edging layout with a hose

Prepare the Area

Mark out the perimeter of the area where you want your stone edging to go using a garden hose—it’s flexible and easy to adjust while you’re visualizing the edge of your planting bed. 

Make sure that you step back to the street to see if the lines look right. I changed my curve a million times… partly because I’m obsessive-compulsive, and partly because my sidewalk curves too, and I wanted to make it look just right.  Using the hose gives you great flexibility (haha).

stone edging curve on right
Here you can see that I stepped up the bricks to create a tiered look.
stone edging curve on left
stone edging from street

Level the Area & Dig Where Needed

The process of leveling the earth is the most time consuming part of the process. Ideally, you can set up stakes and a level line to determine the lowest and highest points of your yard. Once you know where the ground is the lowest, you can start digging everywhere else to level it with that point. 

Dig a trench that’s wider than your chosen stone edging. Then you’ll need to dig out so that the ground is 3″ below the lowest spot along your path. This will give you room to lay the paver base and the sand and have the edging flush with the ground. This may require quite a bit of digging in some areas.

Once your trench area is level, you’ll add 2″ of paver base into the trench and tamp down with a tamper. You’ll want to check for level as you do this.

Next, you’ll add 1″ of paver sand above the base level. I just leveled this by eye and as I added my pavers I leveled each block with the one beside it. Don’t forget to check that the block is level left to right and front to back too.

Just a note that many people will not use the paver base when creating edging. It’s really up to you if you want to use it. Because your garden edge won’t be walked on, the sand is probably fine to use alone. But… I like to build things to last a long time so I don’t take many shortcuts in my prepwork.

Tips for leveling

I myself found it quite difficult to actually level everything at once. I seemed to have better luck going by a basic plumb line, and leveling each brick individually, and with the one next to it. Make sure you check the paver for level:

  • side to side
  • front to back
  • level with one beside it

Set the level on top and use the mallet to tap a corner down, or the sand to lift a corner up. You need to get it completely level in all directions. This took me a long time. I often started over, poured a little more sand, and readjusted. Every brick or two I took a step back to make sure it looked right to my eye (that’s the most important part!).\

stone edging
My dad was a huge help too!
stone edging
Here we hit a stump from an old shrub. Avoid this if at all possible!
stone edging
Creating stone edging border is way more fun when you have friends to help you! Thanks Chris!

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cutting your edgers if necessary. Most can be separated into smaller chunks with a small chisel.

Add the tiers and caps

If your yard is not completely level, you may want to tier the stone edging wall up and down. This adds a lot of cool visual interest and it’s really easy to just stack the bricks on top of each other to create the effect.

Depending on how you created your wall (straight or curved) the caps may need to be cut. I go over how to do this in detail in this post!

stone edging curve on right
Here you can see that I stepped up the bricks to create a tiered look.  We still haven’t cut the caps yet.

Finish the Job. Fill the empty areas of the trench with soil or some other stabilization material like mulch or gravel.

Now stand back and admire your work! Installing decorative stone, cement, or paver edging around your planting beds will not only keep your grass and mulch in place, but also give your beds a stand-out, tidy look. This little bit of sweat equity rewards you with instant curb appeal!

stone edging collage

So pretty! Except for the front porch, which I randomly ripped the carpet from the other day. The projects never end. Just for some more laughs, before I even finished the stone caps, I started a whole new raised bed in the backyard! It’s going to look so great when it’s done.

stone edging in back yard
This is the back part of the wall. Basically, you wont even see these bricks when it’s done because I’m going to fill the whole area with a truckload of soil. Then, I’ll create a planting bed that’s just about level with my back porch.

Wrapping Up

I thought this was a really fun project and as a beginner it really did not take me long to finish and have a beautiful result. Actually getting the caps cut and installed on top of the tiered border was a bit more difficult than this part. I covered that whole process for you in this post.

If you like this project, you’ll also want to check out my brick paver walkway post. I think the brick walkway looks great with this type of edging!

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Rusty Wrought Iron Remedy

Rusty Wrought Iron Remedy

So, my next outdoor project is repainting my rusty wrought iron railing around my front porch. Here are my instructions on what to do:

  • Scrub the wrought iron with a steel wire brush. This will remove any loose or flaking rust. I used a brush from Sherwin Williams with a little “ice scraper” attachment at the end of it. I used this little plastic piece to tap away at the rust and paint chips so they were easier to brush off.
  • wire wheel attachments for drill

    Sand the wrought iron with electric drill attachements, such as a sandpaper disc or wire wheel to further remove rust. Begin by using a coarse sandpaper to remove deeper rust. Go over the wrought iron with a medium-grit sandpaper.

  • If necessary, mix a solution of water and commercial rust remover in a bucket. Dip a wire brush into the solution. Scrub the remaining rust spots on the wrought iron with the solution. A lot of times, using a very high quality metal primer will allow you to skip this step.
  • Dampen a sponge with plain water. Wipe down the wrought iron to remove any further residue. Allow the surface to dry.
  • These are the Sherwin Wiliams paint and primer I used

    Apply a coat of rust-resistant primer to the wrought iron. Allow the primer to dry completely. I used a metal primer by Sherwin Williams.

  • Apply rust resistant paint… again I went with a high gloss black Sherwin Williams latex enamel. I actually asked the guy who originally put in my new steps and railing, and this is what they use.
  • Use a medium-bristled paint brush to apply the paint in smooth, even strokes. Let the paint fully dry in between coats. Or you can try one of those lambskin paint mitts and just dip your hand into the paint and cover the railings. It’s much easier, especially if your railing has all those pretty swirls and details to go over.
Fixing up old railings is definitely hard work. You won’t get it to look perfect… but the difference in my railings is really rewarding. It’s like night and day.






Paint Your Front Door the Right Way (My Pretty Purple Door)

Paint Your Front Door the Right Way (My Pretty Purple Door)

Want to learn how to paint your front door? I finally got around to painting the front door purple. I know, pretty ridiculous since I named this entire blog after this concept. Read More “Paint Your Front Door the Right Way (My Pretty Purple Door)”