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Asphalt Driveway Edging with Cobblestone Pavers

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driveway paver edging
Photo courtesy Gregs Landscaping @ flickr/Creative Commons
The edges of asphalt driveways tend to show wear and tear sooner than the rest of the surface. Asphalt is softer than concrete, and the edges in particular are more likely to be banged up by snow removal and daily traffic (foot or vehicular). Fortunately, that softness makes asphalt driveways easy to dress up along the sides using pavers.

Even if the edges are in good shape, or the driveway is made of concrete, pavers or loose materials such as gravel or stone, installing a border of attractive cobblestone pavers, often called Belgian block, or even brick or concrete pavers, will improve both the driveway and the adjacent yard. The work requires only a modest investment, and is well within the possibilities for a handy DIYer. Plan on taking 2-3 days to finish the job.

A paver edge will look best if it is installed along both sides of the driveway, but feel free to do just one side if it suits your needs. Use brick pavers, concrete pavers, or cobblestone pavers, set on edge rather than flat. Cobblestone pavers, which are chunks of granite, are usually the best choice. For best results, use pavers measuring 4 to 5 inches thick, 7 to 9 inches wide, and 9 to 10 inches long.

What you will need:

  • chalk line
  • handheld cutoff saw
  • brick set chisel
  • small sledgehammer or heavy hammer
  • garden spade
  • concrete mix, and a tub and hoe to mix it with water
  • pavers
  • rubber mallet
  • mason's trowel
  • broom
  • paver base or ground limestone

1. Snap a chalk line

The quickest way to mark a straight edge is with a chalk line. Secure one end of the line with a nail, have a helper hold the other end on the driveway so that the line is taut, and then give the string a quick snap from the middle.

2. Cut the asphalt

Rent a handheld cutoff saw with a diamond blade. A tool rental store or Home Depot should have what you need for about $50 a day. Ask the person you rent from to give you a lesson on how the saw works (they're pretty easy to use). Alternatively, you can find short videos on cutting asphalt online. If this part of the job scares you, hire someone to do the cutting; it may not cost you much more than the rental fee.

When the saw has reached the end, use a strong garden spade to fully remove the cut section. The saw probably won't be able to cut near the garage, so use a brick set chisel and small sledgehammer to finish the job. You can also use the chisel to remove any other asphalt that the saw missed.

3. Cut the trenches

Use the garden spade to dig a trench along the edge of the driveway. Dig deep enough so that more than half the stone will be beneath the driveway surface, plus one inch for concrete. Make the width several inches wider than the block's width.

If you plan to set the edging flush with the driveway surface, dig accordingly.

If you are using brick or concrete pavers, plan to set them in concrete. Dig an extra inch deep to make room. Cobblestone pavers will also benefit from being set in concrete, but you can choose to hold them in place with metal edging.

4. Create a level string line

Drive wood stakes at each end of the trench, and then tie a string to the stakes indicating the desired height of the edging.

5. Mix some concrete

Plan to work in 8 to 10 foot segments. Mix one bag of concrete as directed on the package. Use your spade to dump a one-inch layer into the trench along the edge of the asphalt. Reserve some of the mixed concrete to use for backfilling.

6. Install the pavers

Set a paver in the concrete. Move it back and forth to set it properly. Use a rubber mallet to tap it to the desired depth, making sure the face of the paver rests against the edge of the driveway. Continue setting pavers until you reach the end of the concrete.

7. Backfill with concrete

Carefully dump concrete in the trench along the backside of the pavers. Smooth the concrete with the bottom of the trowel. Form the concrete backfill into a 45 degree angle to shed water.

Repeat the process of mixing concrete, install pavers, and backfilling until you have finished. Use a broom to sweep some paver base or ground limestone into the gaps around the pavers.

8. Finish backfilling

Fill the rest of the trench with top soil or mulch. Allow the concrete to cure undisturbed for a week or more.

9. Finishing touches

Once the concrete has cured, take some time to add a decorative touch to the driveway border. You could just throw some grass seen on the top soil, but you might also want to consider planting some flowers or other decorative plantings. Just be sure not to plant anything with a big root system that could disrupt the edging or the driveway.

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