• Measuring tape
• Paving material (brick, stone, cement pavers, or any material that can be used as a border)
• Flat-edged spade
• Grit sand (not play or building sand)
• Rubber mallet
• Measure the length of one brick. Add 1 inch to that length (so you have enough room to add sand and nestle the bricks in place) and mark that distance from the edge of your garden bed or walkway so you know where you want to begin digging the trench.
• Dig out a clean edge along the outer margin of the border with a spade. Lean your shovel handle forward so you get a clean vertical cut. Dig to a depth that is 2 inches more than the depth of the brick. (See Photo 1)
• Continue digging out the entire shallow trench along the edge of your garden or walkway.
• Unload grit sand into the trench so it’s 2 inches deep throughout. Grit sand is a sharp, gritty grade of sand that will keep the bricks level in the ground. (Play sand, which is also called building sand, is too soft.)
• Smooth out the sand using the side of a brick. Use a level to make sure the sand is even.
• Lay the first two bricks on the sand as close together as possible. If there is any sand between the bricks, remove it so the bricks are tight. Use a level to make sure the bricks are even with each other and the ground.
• Place a few more bricks, then pound the side with a rubber mallet so the bricks are as close to each other as possible. (See Photo 2) Continue using a level and rubber mallet after laying every two or three bricks to keep them tight and even.
• If your edging is going around corners, you’ll have to get the bricks cut (unless you are using a paver that has corner pieces). Retail concrete yards and landscape companies that specialize in cutting rock and pavers can cut the bricks for you. (See Photo 3) Call ahead; cutting usually takes a few minutes and costs an average of $3 to $5 per brick. Mark the bricks ahead of time with a piece of chalk so it’s clear where they should be cut.
• Continue adding bricks, tapping them with the mallet, and leveling them with a level until the edging is finished.
• Backfill along both sides of the brick edging with soil.
Photography by Chap Achen