To me, a low-maintenance garden border is simple in concept. It should be made from indestructible materials that are not vulnerable to the elements and require little-to-no care whatsoever.
That said, here are my low-maintenance garden border ideas that satisfy these criteria and look good too! Some of them are not very cheap but trust me; they are worth every penny.
No maintenance border materials:
- DIY cement
- cinder blocks
- fibercrete, graphite
With other materials, there’s a risk that your border will eventually get destroyed or will require replacement or constant repair.
I do not recommend wood. Even pressure-treated wood is prone to degradation over time and is not immune to insects making it their home. Carpenter ants, in particular, love to occupy wood and eventually find their way into your home and your garage. I had to throw away my own pressure-treated wooden borders after about five years, as the ants wouldn’t go away. Sure, it may look cozy and natural, but it’s not worth the money and effort.
Let’s look at some better solutions.
1. Rocks and Stones
Rocks and stones are always a great option when it comes to constructing garden borders because once they are laid out, you don’t need to maintain them.
Not only are rocks borderline indestructible, but they also look natural and do an excellent job holding in soil, making them perfect for raised beds too. Indeed, the only challenge you may face is tracking down enough stones in the right shape and size. But fortunately, most nurseries and garden centers have garden stones for sale.
Another reason we love stones and rocks for garden borders is that you have plenty of design options at your disposal. You can use stones in different colors, like in the example above, and even incorporate some masonry techniques to give your border an architectural feel.
Depending on how many layers of rock you choose to use, you can opt for tiered beds with different levels.
Alternatively, flat rocks, like these sandstones, are perfect for building faux retaining walls that neatly edge your garden beds.
Bear in mind that rock does tend to retain heat to a more significant degree than other materials, so you may need to provide your plants with a bit of additional hydration in the hotter months of the year.
All in all, we love the idea of using rocks for DIY no-maintenance garden borders. Smaller stones may require some outdoor adhesive or concrete filling during your initial set-up phase, but for the most part, they’re heavy enough that this won’t be necessary.
Rubber comes in high on our list of low-maintenance garden border ideas because of its durability, versatility, and environmental friendliness (rubber is generally recycled!). It’s longer lasting than plastic and easy to shape, making it ideal for even the most curvaceous garden beds.
In addition, rubber edging is available in plenty of different sizes, shapes, and colors to suit your taste.
This is called ‘recycled rubber mulch,’ and while flat, it’s easy enough to roll out and DIY for discreet but highly functional lawn edging. Best of all, because of its non-porous nature, it’s prime for preventing overgrown weeds from sneaking into your garden beds (and vice versa).
As a side note, you can also use it to fill in gaps under a fence to prevent unwanted critters or overflow growth from next door. The only disadvantage I can see to rubber mulch is that it’s not raised. However, its texture more than makes up for it, providing a lovely organic feel.
This is a concrete paver imitation product made from recycled tires. It’s also known as rubber curbing, owing to its sidewalk-like appearance.
One of the main benefits of rubber curbing is that you can shape your borders in any form you choose. Like rubber mulch, it doesn’t allow for weed growth between your lawn and your beds. And it’s also unlikely to damage your lawnmower if you happen to go a little too close.
Rubber is more durable than plastic, which means less maintenance, and can be more versatile than concrete in terms of color and shape. While slightly more expensive than some other materials on our list, rubber garden borders is a good investment that will last for years and years.
Plastic is one of the cheapest ways to incorporate aesthetic garden edging ideas into your landscape and is available in an enormous variety of designs. But before we get into it, here’s a quick word about plastic borders.
When installed in the ground using plastic spikes, the spikes may be partially forced out of the soil, depending on how harsh your winters are. Therefore, they may require some minor maintenance from time to time, like occasionally hammering them down.
You can buy all types of plastic edging from online merchants. Plastic border types include no-dig, pound-in edgings, and interlocking pieces.
This log-look plastic border is the best of both worlds. You can interlock as many pieces as you need and hammer them directly into your lawn for a neat presentation. While plastic is pretty durable, this type of border may shift, fade, or crack over time, so it might be better for smaller gardens in shadier spaces.
As mentioned, you have plenty of variety regarding plastic garden borders. The wall-like edging pictured above is installed using plastic joins hammered into the ground – great for curvaceous beds. Depending on your preference, these panels can also be stacked at different heights by layering a few on top of each other.
Here are some more examples of pound-in plastic borders. Some are shaped and colored like slatestones, which forms a nice contrast between the lawn and the flower bed. And some are beautifully discreet and barely noticeable, serving only as a boundary between garden and grass.
Personally, I quite like this brick-wall aesthetic, which is a nice option for garden border installations along the pathways and walkways.
That said, the larger and taller the piece of plastic, the more likely it is to move in inclement weather – meaning a boundary like this will require low maintenance.
In this example, we see a curb or sidewalk plastic edging with a built-up border. Like rubber curbing, the overlaid edge is excellent for protecting against damage from lawnmowers or weed eaters, giving you space for a neat, clean trim.
Plastic bricks are perfect for a shallow garden border, and they’re available in all sorts of different colors and textures. This is one of the easiest edgings to DIY, too.
If you’re looking for something quainter and more playful, consider investing in an interlocking plastic fence. The only issue with these borders is that they don’t always stay upright, so they require occasional maintenance.
Metal is one of the most durable materials out there, so let’s see how it holds up as a garden border.
Many a landscaper will tell you that a good border makes a big difference to the overall look of your front garden. Corten steel is a much-loved option in this regard. Rather than having to defend your edging against the elements, you can embrace them by allowing for natural rusting – which looks stunning. Installation is relatively simple with the use of steel stakes or pins. You can either buy Corten steel in pre-rolled panels or interlocking pieces, like in the example below.
If you aren’t using pins or stakes to install your borders, you may need to dig a small trench and fill in around them with soil or stones. Either way, once planted, steel is less likely to move or bend than a material like plastic, meaning you won’t need to maintain it at all.
If the rusted look is not for you, you can purchase colored Corten steel, although it may fade slightly after a few years.
Tall steel borders like this should be professionally installed, as raised beds are more likely to force pressure against your edgings, which can shift them. Indeed, this can get a bit expensive, but it’s well worth it if you consider that you won’t need to maintain it any further.
Corrugated Galvanized Steel
Corrugated galvanized steel is both visually appealing and one of the most durable options available for garden borders. Unlike Corten steel, it is zinc-treated, meaning it won’t rust or tarnish for up to two decades.
Rolled galvanized steel is quite pliable, so you have options in terms of shape and dimension. And while more expensive than most garden edgings, steel is beneficial in its durability and ability to keep out pests, weeds, and other unwanted visitors to your garden.
5. DIY Cement
Cement is the way to go if you’re looking for a long-lasting, no-maintenance DIY solution for garden borders. You can pour and mold it yourself or use concrete stamps, as seen below.
Concrete or cement is always one of my first choices for building garden borders. It’s used commercially, so it makes sense that concrete borders would be perfect for low maintenance installations. And you can do it yourself, too, using any number of simple solutions.
Frankly, I’m surprised that no one uses large square or rectangular stepping stones for garden borders. My idea would be to dig a deep, narrow trench and install stepping stones vertically. I haven’t seen anyone doing it yet, but they are cheap – the cheapest cement pavers you can get. And they are large – so you’ll only need a few.
Let’s say you obtain 16×16″ stepping stones. Dig a trench about 8″ deep, and then lower your stones into it. Compact the ground around it while ensuring all the pieces are aligned, and you’re done. Basically, it will look something like this – see the images below.
Or use smaller size cement pavers for a slightly different but also awesome look. See more details at this garden world blog.
Bricks are a very versatile (and affordable) garden border material. You can install them horizontally, vertically, at an angle, or flat. You can also install double-brick borders, making them higher or lower as you please. And you can use cement or masonry work to hold them together.
This fancy border combines flat bricks and horizontal bricks laid directly into the earth. No cement is required, and the compact shape makes this design incredibly durable. You’re not restricted to harsh angles with bricks. Instead, you can arrange them in pleasing, curved patterns that suit your landscape.
This cool design is simple but charming. Arranging your bricks at a slight angle gives them an attractive, textured look that differs from the flat edges we’re used to seeing in garden borders.
For a quick fix, this is one of the simplest ways to build a fast, low maintenance garden border. Nothing more than a very short brick “wall” joined with cement, this won’t cost you very much and shouldn’t take more than an afternoon to construct.
Many homes are built with bricks and concrete, so these materials always tie in seamlessly with any landscape.
Bricks are perfect for beautiful, ideal home gardens too. This example shows brick paving complemented by brick borders. Simple in concept but very effective, it’s far cheaper to pull off than you might expect.
One downside of bricks is that you’ll need to weed between them occasionally, as they don’t do much to stop rogue plant growth. However, aside from that, they don’t require further maintenance and are a decades-long solution for any type of garden edging.
7. Cinder Blocks
If you’ve been reviewing our articles for a while, you’ll know there are endless ways to use cinder blocks. Create this endearing garden border by edging your beds with cinderblocks, even filling in the holes to act as additional planters. Quick and practical to DIY, these blocks are also no-maintenance and won’t suffer any damage from the elements.
Pavers are one of the cheapest and easiest solutions for garden edging, made better by how many types are available on the market. As with bricks, you can either install them flat or build them up slightly for raised garden beds.
Here, we see the clever use of interlocking pavers to construct a gorgeous, curved border. A little concrete between your pavers is a good idea for prolonged durability. And, of course, they should be sunken into the ground to preserve them from moving or shifting.
For a truly exquisite garden border, a slightly raised wall of pavers complemented by a makeshift capstone is breathtaking. This may cost you a bit more, but it feels intentional and architectural, ultimately adding to the overall value of your property.
This no-fuss border idea is as easy as digging a small trench and installing some pavers horizontally. No need for concrete – they should hold up perfectly well on their own. That said, you can expect some weeds to creep through the gaps.
One of the reasons we love pavers is because they’re a feast for the eyes in terms of color. Offset your regular garden path paving with some upright interlocking pavers for the perfect border design.
This keeps your landscape neat and clearly demarcates the different areas of your garden. Pavers are super hardy and won’t require maintenance other than occasional weeding.
I can’t get enough of gabions, even though I know they’re not to everyone’s taste. For me, the best thing about them is that they’re very good at keeping in soil, making them ideal for raised borders in particular. Gabions are affordable, especially if you fill in your own cages with sourced rocks, and they won’t suffer from any weather damage.
As mentioned, the only downside is that some might not find them visually attractive. Indeed, they’re also larger than many edging materials, so you’re a bit limited in terms of size. Gabions are also not ideal for curved beds unless your cages are specifically prefabricated to account for this.
10. Fibercrete, Graphite, and Other Edging Alternatives
There are plenty of garden edging alternatives on the market not covered by the materials discussed above, including prefabricated concrete fiber slabs, graphite panels, and PVC plastic sheets.
Ultimately, the low-maintenance option you choose to go with should tick three boxes: durability, aesthetic appeal, and cost.