Some call it mow strip.
Others call it mower edge.No matter what the name, the ribbon of concrete laid to keep flower beds away from the grass and vice versa is just the thing to give a home that touch of neatness that sets the yard apart from the neighbors and make it easier to mow and edge the lawn.
Mower edge has been around for years in the form of large pieces of concrete that can be purchased from nurseries or discount stores and laid end-to-end in a yard after some grass has been removed.
The easiest way to get the finishing touch on a yard is to hire someone to do the edging. Enter Michael Slaymaker, owner of Custom Curbing of Utah, one of several companies installing mower edge at business buildings, churches, houses, golf courses and government buildings.
Slaymaker purchased Custom Curbing of Utah four years ago from Keith Bigler when it was known as American Curb Maker. Slaymaker was the manager at the time.
Custom Curbing of Utah isn't a large outfit (only three people including Slaymaker during the interview while they were installing mower edge at an eastside Salt Lake home). But their product has an immediate impact on the community because it is visible from the road.
Slaymaker and his crew, mixer Dale Dornaman and finisher Art Green, cut a six-inch wide swath between the flower bed and the grass 2 1/2 inches deep where the mower edge will sit. They can make any angle and go up any slope because the machine they use can follow even the most serious curves.
The customer can choose between the mower style edging that is 2 1/2 inches thick on the side closest to the grass and 4 1/2 inches thick on the side near the flowers. The extra height keeps the dirt inside the flower bed. The other is the curb style that is four inches thick and six inches wide.
As a mixture of sand, cement and water is shoveled into the electric Curb Mate machine, a piston goes back and forth packing the concrete into the shape of the mower edge. Green uses special tools to finish the concrete and periodically cuts expansion joints so the concrete won't crack after it dries.
The machine can install about 200 feet per hour if the concrete mix is continually put in the hopper. Custom Curbing does between 40,000 and 50,000 feet of mower edge annually at a cost of $2-$2.50 per foot, which lowers with larger jobs.
If you're not into a company installing mower edge, you can do ityourself like I did many years ago although it might not have the fancy elevated look that Slaymaker can provide.
I started with some 2 1/2-inch redwood strips for forms that had a slight amount of bend so the mower edge wasn't always in a boring straight configuration. But I soon learned that after one use, the concrete sucked the moisture from the wood and left it without much flexibility.
In recent years when I poured mower strip around by trees I needed more flexibility so I purchased some plastic edging material for the forms that can be used over and over. I cleaned an area about four inches deep and slightly more than six inches wide.
Regardless of what is used for the forms, you need some wooden pegs to keep the forms in place and some spacers to keep the forms apart until the concrete is poured. Some of my mower edge is six inches wide and other is four inches wide, but each is adequate as a surface on which my Black and Decker lawn edger rolls.
I mixed my concrete from bags in a wheelbarrow and finished it with a standard edging tool. Slaymaker's mix contained very few rocks, but I used the standard concrete mix and my mower edge has lasted many years.
It's a good idea to cut some expansion joints every few feet so your concrete doesn't crack and that usually is done in places that might be under stress. The concrete dries quickly, and the next day you can remove the plastic forms and go onto your next stretch of edging.