We’ve covered many different edgings on this site and sawtooth edging is a good one to add to the list. It is quick and easy and may even cost you next to nothing, if your driveway is part of a larger building project and you have bricks left over.
Sawtooth edging is a great way to spruce up your driveway and make it look great. It’s also useful if you wish for some sort of access from the side without having to go through the front yard (e.g., for garbage collection or snow removal).
This type of driveway edging may be called by different names. It may be referred to as a flower box edging or flowerbed edging. It is also sometimes used to edge concrete pathways and patios (e.g., in place of brick).
Importance Of Edging For Driveways
Edging is important for loose driveways to keep the material in place (see our article Edging For Gravel Drives). It’s also important on solid surfaces to discourage vehicles from going over the edge, as this damages the border of the concrete or tarmac and leads to early breakdown of the surface (see Edging For Tarmac Drives and Edging For Concrete Drives).
Edging also plays a part from the other side of the fence, so to speak, forming a barrier that clearly shows the line between the lawn or flower bed. You can use this barrier to mow up to or strim against.
Homage To The Humble Saw
Sawtooth edging is the proper name for rows of bricks laid standing up but leaning over at an angle, alongside the driveway. The tops of the angled bricks look like the teeth of a saw, hence the name. The angle can be anything you like but it’s normally around 45 degrees. This means that the points of the ‘saw teeth’ edge will be uniform.
Alongside a driveway the row of bricks should be cemented in place, using haunching to hold the edge against sideways pressure. You will find articles describing the whys and wherefores of haunching in our concrete and tarmac sections, but essentially haunching is a barrier of concrete behind the edging row to give that lateral support.
If you are using sawtooth edging on a garden path rather than a driveway, there’s less need to provide support. You don’t really need haunching and you don’t even have to embed the bricks in concrete. Be aware that they will move around as they settle though, and may need to be re-positioned from time to time. But if you are looking for a cottage garden look, then a slight irregularity in the path edging will lend character.
You can lay the bricks edgeways or side-on. Side-on will give a stronger barrier because of the larger contact points between each brick. It’s a better choice for narrow and curved driveways, where the chances of cars going over the edge are higher.
If you lay the bricks edgeways, the edging won’t be as strong but you will use about a third fewer bricks. So if you don’t need the strength, and you have a limited supply of bricks, then edgeways is the choice for you. Of course, the way it looks is important, too, but most people feel that side-on is better.
Use Any Brick
Strictly speaking, you should use paving bricks or engineered bricks for sawtooth edging. As you’ll know if you’ve read our articles on laying a brick driveway or path, the surface of ordinary building bricks will crack as freezing and thawing take their toll. Most paving bricks will have lugs on the side so you’ll be forced to lay them edgeways, unless you chisel them all off, which is probably not recommended.
Ordinary bricks will eventually break down completely, although this will take several years. Used on a garden path, this effect can lend character so you may not mind, particularly if you have a few spares you can use to replace them over the years. So if you are happy with the effect you can choose any bricks you like.
Where To Source Your Bricks
You’ll find paving bricks at any good builder’s merchant (e.g., Wickes, Homebase, B&Q) but if you are building a wider path and have garden waste to dispose of, then consider using it for your edging. As we said above, ordinary bricks won’t last as long as the engineered bricks but they are cheaper.
Take The Easy Option
Finally, you can cheat! As with any other driveway surface or edging you will find concrete replicas of sawtooth edging in a variety of different finishes. They come in sets of 6 to 10 ‘bricks’ in each section, so laying the edging ought to be 6 to 10 times faster.
What you need to know about Sawtooth Edging
Sawtooth edging cannot be walked on, so you need to use a mat or gravel behind it. If you are using the haunching technique for the driveway surface and sawtooth edging, then laying your choice of gravel between them is straightforward.
For a path though, just lay some rubble over the soil and tarmac before you lay your bricks. Anything between 20-40mm in size will do, but just make sure that it’s not so big that the bricks won’t go over it without causing a problem – you don’t want to have to remove them again!
The other thing you need to watch for is slippage over time. If you live in an area with heavy or unpredictable rain, then this isn’t a problem, but if your bricks are on a path that gets used regularly by pedestrians and bikes, then you will need to keep an eye out for it.
As the edging can be walked on once it has settled, it’s entirely possible that they may slip sideways over time. So you’ll need to check every year or two and reposition them, if required.
Dangers of Sawtooth Edging
If you slip over on your path with sawtooth edging, you will get a pretty nasty scrape or cut. So it’s not recommended for use by children if there is the slightest risk of rain, as they are more likely to slip.
Sawtooth edged driveway is a good idea if you have enough bricks to lay two edges, as it will make the path wider. It has the same benefits as any other edging for your drive or garden; It keeps the mowers and lawnmowers away from your car tyres; Makes an attractive visual barrier that draws the eye towards the front of your house; And it protects the path from weed growth.
It’s not the easiest to lay, but if you are doing a driveway then there is plenty of time. It isn’t too difficult with paving bricks either, but needs to be done accurately. Concrete sawtooth edging is easy enough and cheap too. It is probably the most durable, although it will look out of place in some environments.