Building a level lawn edging strip or 'mowing strip', not only helps to separate difficult materials like gravel from lawn edges, you can also run your lawnmower wheels right over it. This cuts down your edging task from once per cut to only two or three times a year.
It is possible to build a mowing strip around an existing lawn but it is better to build from scratch, laying the lawn after installing the mowing strip so that you get a really good finish.
Our step by step guide shows you how to lay a mowing strip from scratch on a curved lawn.
What you will need
Preparing the ground
Prepare the ground by removing any weeds and turf from your working area. Using a spray can of marker paint, mark out the shape of the lawn. For a perfect circle, use a string line pegged in the centre of the circle and loop the other end around the nozzle of the can. Keep this string line in place since you will use it again to keep your circle right as you lay the block.
Next, determine the firmness of the ground. If the ground is soft, you will need to dig a trench to take your mowing strip that is around 100mm deeper than the eventual height of the lawn. That is, 50mm for the block, 20mm for the mortar bed and 30mm of well-trodden type one or scalpings. If the ground is firm, then allow for 80mm - 50mm for the block and 30mm for the mortar bed.
If you feel you have to use type one then stamp over and over it until it is well-trodden. (It is best to use a whacker plate but you probably wouldn't hire one just for a mowing strip).
Mixing the mortar
You can mix by hand but you will need quite a lot of mortar so its best to borrow or hire a mixer. A mowing strip must be laid onto a full mortar bed if it is to take the weight of a lawnmower without shifting. The best mix to use is around 4:1 - four parts sand to one part cement. Make your mortar slightly stiffer than you would if you were brick laying because you will be making a bigger mortar bed and you need it to hold under the weight of the block while it goes off.
Laying the block
Using a spade, throw a generous amount of mortar onto the ground or type one and begin laying the block. If you have chosen to have a perfect circle, you can use your string line to keep you right. For a free-form curve, it is important that you step back every now and then to check you have it just the way you want it.
Don't worry too much about exact levels for the block. It would take a very long time if you were to try to level such a small block in so many directions. Use your level to check you have a rough level the whole way round and you don't have too many obvious dips or humps. As a general rule, if it looks good to the eye, then that's all you need. This is where it is important to step back from your work as often as possible since you will see obvious level changes more easily this way.
When you have finished laying the block, you will need to give strength to the mowing strip by haunching up the blocks. This will stop the blocks moving outwards.
Your haunching mix is the same as your mortar mix only now you add a few concreting chips to give it added strength. Apply a generous amount of mix to both sides of the mowing strip and come as far as you can up the side of the block. Push the haunching firmly against the block to remove any gaps or air holes which might weaken it.
Once the mortar has gone off fully, all that's left to do is to lay the new turf inside your mowing strip. To allow for the lawnmower to pass over the strip, you should bring the soil up so that it is level with the top of the mowing strip. Then, when you lay your lawn, your lawn will sit slightly above the mowing strip itself.
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