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Timber Edging for Driveways

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Timber Wood Driveway Planks Boards Plank

Timber is an attractive but not particularly long-lived driveway edging material. Although we've already touched on it in our sections on choosing the right edging for Concrete and Tarmac driveways, it's perhaps more common to find it with loose materials like Gravel, shingle and chippings. Wood is not really strong enough for block and brick paved driveways, though, as timber is more likely to move or warp under sideways forces.

Current Uses of Timber Edging

Its current popularity is largely down to timber edging being cheap, quick and easy to lay, so it is often used in new builds and other property development schemes. Developers aren't usually that bothered about the cost of replacing something five or 10 years down the line, as they won't be the one paying for it.

Wood is more suitable for a garden path as there aren't any real stresses to cope with. But if you like the look of timber edging, it can be made to last longer if it's well treated before laying and protected regularly each year.

Constructing Timber Edging

The simplicity of laying timber edging is, as we have already discussed, one of it's main advantages. In most cases, there is no need to do anything other than drive stakes into the ground to support the boards. These boards are usually between 4-6 inches wide (10-15cm) and three-quarters of a an inch to an inch (2-2.5cm) thick.

The pegs or stakes should be long enough to go about a foot (30cm) into the ground and still leave enough room for two nails supporting the plank. After marking out, the stakes can be driven in and the plank attached. For curves, cut short length of planks and 'threepenny-bit' around the curve, leaving shorter distances between each stake.

Joining Edging Boards

When two planks meet you can butt the boards together and use two stakes or, perhaps stronger and less likely to develop an unsightly gap, use a bracing piece. This is a short piece of board which spans the joint, between the boards and the peg. Make sure the two planks are properly butted together before putting the nails through both layers and onto the stake.

An alternative method is a mitre joint. Cut the ends of both planks to be joined at 45 degrees so that they overlap before fixing them to a peg. This doesn't leave a vertical joint which may, in time open up and be unsightly. But it does introduce a weak point at the pointed end of the upper board. This won't undermine the strength of the edging as a whole but the sharp end can snap off easily when a car wheel or a foot goes over the upper plank.

A combination joint, with a mitre that finishes on a vertical cut for the upper half inch (about 1.25cm) of the upper board, may be a good compromise. It does need accurate cutting, though, to avoid a gap and keep the top surface of the edging planks flush.

Finishing Off

Once you have all your boards in place, trim any excess off the tops of the pegs and tidy up. If you have turf or beds on the non-driveway side, you can cut the stakes off an inch or so (2.5cm) below the top of the boards, then push the earth or turf up against the boards, hiding the tops of the pegs. This gives a clean professional look to the whole project.

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You can use treated timber, which won't rot anywhere near as quickly in the ground. There are pros and cons to that, since it's treated with chemicals. It'll keep it's look and shape, but you don't know what's leeching into the earth. For that reason you really shouldn't use it if you're going to be growing vegetables close by. And clean the wood annually, then put some weatherproofing on it so it'll last longer.
Walker - 6-Jun-12 @ 10:50 AM
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