The Q&A Archives: Garden Borders

Question: We are putting flat stone in our garden as a border and wanted to know if you have any suggestions. The stones are various shapes and sizes and sometimes don't lay flat. Also there are some small spaces between that we can't seem to fill. We don't mind the look but wonder if it would cause problems later? Any suggestions?

Answer: There are a number of ways to install the stones in your landscape and your technique will be dictated by the vision you have for the finished product. If you want a uniform look you can dig out the area and use sand as the foundation, working the stones into the sand as needed to produce a flat surface. You can then either fill the gaps with sand or mortar. If you want a less formal appearance, plant something low and ground-hugging between the stones. If the site is sunny, creeping thyme works well; if it's shady, moss works well to soften the lines of the stones. Or, you could add gravel or bark, allowing it to work its way into the cracks and gaps between the stones.

To keep the stones flat you'll have to excavate the soil, then set the stones on the soil (or bed of sand) and rock them back and forth to force them level. You may have to remove or add soil to get the right height for each individual stone. Gaps can cause problems later (stones will shift or weeds will grow) so make the border as tight as possible with sand, gravel, mortar or plant roots.

Hope this information helps. Best wishes with your project!

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