In college I studied landscape design. I’ve always wanted one those beautiful, well kept yards. Unfortunately landscaping tends to get expensive. But in every home we’ve lived in we’ve tried to add whatever improvements we could. And if you’ve been following some of my other projects your know that we always try to do it ourselves and we always try to make it as budget-friendly as possible. Adding curbing to our yard was no different.
If you’ve driven around high end neighborhoods you may have noticed a lot of those yards have a border that defines areas of the yard. A lot of the time, at least in our area, this is in the form of a concrete curb. In our old house we added bricks and rocks to try to create those borders. We always ended up with a lot of weeds or our kids moving the material. In our new house I knew I wanted a concrete curb throughout our front and back yards. After checking prices from local concrete curbing businesses and doing the math it was clear we had another DIY on our hands. Instead of paying $5 per linear for someone else to do it for us I figured out we could do it for around $1 per linear foot (at the time of installation). Here’s what you’ll need.
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80 lb bags of quikrete (We used 1 bag for approximately 3 linear feet)
Concrete Edger – something similar to this
Edging forms- Most people use some form of plywood for this
Stakes – I recommend having a few rebar stakes
Wood pieces for spacers
The first thing you want to do is prep for your concrete. I used some spray paint on the grass to figure out what lines looked best for the curb. Once I had the line I wanted I started digging out the grass, trying to make sure it was fairly level.
After the grass was cut out I started laying out the forms. My brother had some aluminum edging that he used as grass edging before he had someone come install concrete curbing. He let me have it to use for the concrete forms. It was perfect because it was long, sturdy and reusable. After laying out the inside line next to the grass I cut some spare 2×6 boards to make spacers. This helped to keep the forms equal distances apart the entire length of the forms. I used stakes to keep the forms in place, trying to always keep the stakes on the outside of the forms.
If you have access to a concrete mixer this project will be so much easier. We did not. But my awesome husband did a great job mixing it in our wheelbarrow. At one point we tried to mix two bags at once but it was just too much for our little wheelbarrow to handle so we stuck to one bag at a time. It was a slow process. If we were able to do the whole project at the same time we would have rented a mixer, but the whole thing took a few days because we were limited by how many metal forms we had.
After you have the concrete mixed it’s time to get it into the the forms. Using a shovel we dumped piles into the form and then went through and used the concrete edger to quickly smooth the top. At this point I didn’t worry about aesthetics. I just wanted to make sure everything was level through the section of the form we just poured. Then I went along and tapped the outside edge of the form to remove any bubbles that may have formed on the edges. After making sure it’s level and tapping to get the bubbles out you’ll want to make it as smooth as you can. This took me a bit to figure out what method worked best for me to get it smooth. Ultimately I went with dipping the edger in water and smoothing. If that doesn’t work for you try something else until you get what works!
This wont show in any of the photos, but don’t forget to create control joints in the concrete. This will help to prevent random cracking in the surface of your curbing. To do this I pushed the edge of a concrete trowel a couple of inches though the concrete while I was smoothing it and then smoothed over it with my edger to hide the joints. I wish I had a video or picture of this for you, but apparently I was in the zone. I was too worried about it drying too much before I got to smoothing it.
We left the concrete overnight and then took off the forms. The concrete should be dry enough to hold it’s form, but it will still be soft enough that you shouldn’t walk on it for a few days. We made sure to keep the kids off it for a week while it cured. After a week you should be good to walk on it (or use it as a balance beam, like my kids!).
Here are a few shots throughout the project.
I hope you enjoyed this project! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!