I've been looking for a quality, durable, metal border fencing for my flowers and other landscaping (to keep the kids out). Most edge fencing is cheap plastic or ugly metal wiring. There are a few quality pieces out there, but they are super expensive.
My favorite was this pictured Stratford Edge Fencing from Garden Supply. Trouble is they are about $11 per piece and I need around 30 of them. $300 seemed outrageous so I began experimenting with my own, simple design and various materials.
Ultimately I was able to create something that looks nice for about a fraction of the price ($3 per piece) and in the color I wanted.
NOTE: if you are familiar with tempering steel, I would recommend tempering after forming. This metal I used tends to bend to the slightest ding.
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Step 1: Material Selection
HomeDepot and Lowe's each carry a variety of diameters, materials and lengths. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted so I started with 2 sizes I thought might make a nice arch height. I also did some digging on the typical iron fence piece to get a sense for diameters.
Avoid Welding Steel and Rough "forms"
I settled on 3/16 inch and initially tried the 48 inch pieces of welding steel. I learned quickly that this metal was pretty pliable and getting a nice curve might be difficult. Basically you need something circular with a circumference equal to the length of your bar, or pretty close. The closest thing I had on hand that was 48 inches around was my front yard tree. However, as you can see, there are numerous slight imperfections after bending the rod simply because the tree was not smooth.
The 48 inch welding steel also has an oily coating on it, presumably to prevent rust. I washed each one, dried and painted with "metal" paint and even primed it. I quickly found the paint was not sticking and flaked off.
I consider the 48" welding steel to a learning trial.
Buy Zinc Plated, 3/16 inch steel rods.
You'll need to measure the length you want to edge. Accounting for a few inches overlap, calculate the diameter, less overlap, to determine how many rods you need. Buy a few extras because you will make mistakes and need to throw a few pieces out. Pick up some metal paint as well.
Step 2: Form the Rounds
I had a bucket lying around in the garage that happened to by 36 inches round and had a perfect groove in the top without any bumps or imperfections that would result in any abnormalities.
I pressed with my left hand and followed the rod around the form with my right, coming completely around. I found that for uniformity and proper half circles you need to bend the metal entirely around the bucket (the metal bends back to about half circle position.
It might take a few attempt to get this part right, it's the most tricky. So be sure to have a few throwaway pieces on hand.
Step 3: Paint
I simply rested my first round of 48 inch rods against some wood to paint them and even hung a few. However, it was difficult to get even coverage and prevent touching.
I created a simple stand from some scrap wood, drilling shallow holes for each end of the rod at the diameter for all which would not cause any more bending. The holes need to be deep enough, sized perfect to the metal diameter, for a snug fit that won't wobble.
This time I used a 2 in 1 white spray paint, which seems to hold.
Step 4: Install
After 24 hours of drying, I was ready to install. I wanted a metal edge in place to keep the rocks contained, so after that I began inserting the rods into the ground, starting at a corner. Be careful to keep the overlap sections consistent for a professional look.