What Are Sleepers in Gardening?

Sleepers are perhaps more commonly known as railroad ties or landscape timbers, though the term is better suited for larger landscape timbers comparable in size to the railroad ties.

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How do you build a sleeper retaining wall?

Constructing a retaining wall out of upright sleepers is pretty straightforward. Simply dig a trench, lower the sleepers in vertically side by side, and then backfill with a dry concrete mix, that you can ram down around the railway sleepers untill the wall is rigid.

How do you use a garden sleeper?

Cut your sleepers to your required length, which could be random for a rustic look. Then mix up some lean mortar, such as 6:1, to be used as a concrete base and haunching. Place at least a 50mm bed of concrete in the bottom of the trench and start inserting the sleepers, haunching them up as you go.

Can you lay garden sleepers on soil?

Can you lay railway sleepers on soil? Yes you can. If you’re only creating a structure that’s one or two sleepers in height you don’t necessarily need foundations, which means you can lay your railway sleepers onto the soil.

What are the best sleepers to use in the garden?

Green treated or “tanalised” railway sleepers are coated in environmentally friendly, non-Creosote based preservatives, such as ACQ or Tanalith E, which are safe to use and suitable for all garden landscaping projects, making them a wise choice for your garden.

How do you stop sleepers from rotting?

Wood Preserver

Wood preservative treatments provide garden sleepers with protective properties that help prevent rot, mould and fungal growth, as well as help to form a defence against the elements. It is best to apply a wood preservative before installation of your sleeper, so that you can paint all sides.

How do you lay a sleeper?

It is best to lay the railway sleepers on a level and firm ground. It is easiest to simply lay them down directly on the earth with a layer of woven ground cover if you like. This can be done in two ways either by using very long screws or else you can use a steel L-bracket on the inside in each corner as a fixing.

How long should sleepers last?

Softwood sleepers comes from pine and it is known that they a less resistant to decay and have to be treated to ensure they last a long time, when treated and maintained after purchase you can expect softwoods sleepers to give you up to 20 years of use.

What are the best sleepers for raised beds?

Softwood is generally a more affordable option than oak sleepers and once tanalised, will have long-lasting protection against damp and rot, making both oak and softwood sleepers a great option for raised beds.

Will railway sleepers rot?

Like all wood, sleepers will eventually rot and fade when exposed to the weather. To prevent them falling to bits before their time, you need to use a good wood preserver.

Which sleepers last longest?

As a rule, hardwood oak sleepers tend to last the longest naturally with an expected lifespan of around 100 years. An untreated softwood will last for between three and five years if it sits on the ground, whilst treated softwoods can last between 20 and 30 years if they are maintained correctly.

What are Garden sleepers made of?

Traditionally used to lay rail tracks on, railway sleepers are large rectangular sawn pieces of timber that are now used in a variety of landscaping and gardening environments, such as raised beds, lawn and border edging, steps, pathways and retaining walls.

How long will untreated oak last?

Durability is a measurement of how long specific species of timber would last if a 50mm x 50mm cross section was left in the ground unprotected. An untreated Oak beam, which is classed as ‘durable’, for example, will last 15-25 years depending on environmental conditions.

How do you secure a sleeper to the ground?

Using wooden stakes to secure your sleepers is another popular method for adding stability. Sink around 60% of the stake supports into the ground, setting with cement if preferred then simply drive your fixings through the sleepers and into the supports.

How do you make a garden sleeper?

TIMBER SLEEPERS – 3 Ways to Build Walls and Raised Beds

Can you use sleepers as edging?

Therefore, railway sleepers are ideal for garden edging. It don’t require complex design as sleepers provide an easy and practical way to define the edge of your garden. Simply stack sleepers on top of each other to form your desired edging. Sleepers also enhance your garden aesthetics.

Is it safe to use railway sleepers for raised beds?

Some people prefer a rustic, vintage look and so always look for reclaimed sleepers whilst others look for new railway sleepers as they are safe to use when creating vegetable gardens due to the fact that they have not been treated with creosote.

How do you treat a wooden sleeper?

Repair any holes, gaps or uneven surfaces with a suitable exterior wood filler and treat all sound, good wood with an exterior wood preservative. To preserve the sleepers further, we would recommend treating them with an exterior wood oil or decking oil, ideally twice a year in Spring and Autumn.

What wood is sleeper wood?

Sleepers were imported from mainly Africa, Australia and Malaysia. Sleepers obtained from local sources for maintenance on railway lines are largely Pine and Seligna, both not suited for furniture.

Do oak sleepers crack?

It is simply a case of the clever natural product adjusting to its environment. When the inner core of the timber is wetter than the outer section, the cracks will be evident, but once the wood’s centre is also dried out to the level of the atmosphere it is in, these cracks and splits will disappear.

Are railway sleepers hardwood?

A variety of hardwoods and softwoods are used in wooden sleepers. Historically, Jarrah and Oak woods have been used. In untreated form, Greenheart, Mora, Karri, and Azobe woods are also commonplace, and they can last for up to a hundred years.

How long do treated landscape timbers last?

Pressure-treated timbers are typically what you use for a timber retaining wall. The fun fact about pressure treated wood is that it is warrantied – but putting it in continuous contact with the ground voids the warranty. Even so, you can reasonably expect to get anywhere from 10-20 years out of a timber wall.

Can you varnish sleepers?

For the sleeper to beautify the garden, it must be in optimal technical and physical conditions. A layer of varnish can be used to embellish and also increase the sleeper’s lifespan.

What wood are railway sleepers made of?

New railway sleepers tend to be made from softwoods such as pine or spruce, but you can also find new oak sleepers at a higher price.

How do I make a sleeper flower bed?

  1. Choose your size. For our example we are using sleepers in lengths of 2.4 metres, so these can be cut to the desired size for your raised bed.
  2. Position your sleepers.
  3. Attach sleepers together.
  4. Add another layer.
  5. Attach layers together.
  6. Repeat until you have desired height.

Do Tanalised sleepers need treating?

How Do I Treat Tanalised Wood? You do not have to treat tanalised wood, though it is recommended for a couple of reasons. Firstly, your timber will last longer if you choose to do some maintenance. Secondly, tanalised or pressure treated wood tends to change colour over time.

Are Beech sleepers any good?

Besides, the quality of railway sleepers is also determined by the type and quality of saturation. The saturation process differs in the case of beech and oak, since beech wood is not durable; its durability is classified as Class 5, which represents the non-durable category.

Are Larch sleepers any good?

More info. English Larch and Douglas Fir are possibly the most hardy and most durable of domestic softwoods. These sleepers are untreated because their high resin content acts as nature’s own highly effective preservative.

What wood should I use for a raised garden bed?

What Kind of Wood to Use? In most cases, cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because cedar is naturally rot resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but white cedar, yellow cedar and juniper are also high-quality choices for outdoor construction projects.

What size do sleepers come in?

The most common length for railway sleepers is 2.6 metres or 8ft 6″ long. The most common width is 250mm or 10″. And the most common thickness is 125mm & 150mm (5″ & 6″).

Can you use Postcrete for sleepers?

There are three main methods for securely attaching sleepers to the ground. Pre-drill the sleeper and insert a metal rod to (at least) the depth of the sleeper. Screw-fix a metal log roll pin or wooden stake – one to each end of the sleeper. Dig a 75mm deep trench and use postcrete to provide a base 25 – 30mm deep.

Are railway sleepers slippery when wet?

When wet, it is as slippery as oil. ‘Railway sleepers were originally tar-soaked to prevent moulds and fungus attacking them.

How long will pine sleepers last?

A good quality treated pine sleeper can last up to 15 to 20 years which is not a bad life span, however as soon as the15 to 20 years comes around and you have to replace that wall, then concrete sleepers instantly have become a more cost effective option.

How long do used railway sleepers last?

How long do railway sleepers last? Railway sleepers will last for years, with our softwood treated sleepers typically lasting around 8 to 10 years due to the pressurised treatment, and UC4 treatments extending this to 15 years.

How long does a sleeper retaining wall last?

They’re lighter to handle than reclaimed sleepers and are easier to cut. When regularly treated or painted they should last at least 20 years. Hardwood oak sleepers are also uniform in their dimensions, and are more durable and a great deal heavier than softwood.

Can you use railway sleepers for decking?

If you’re making a raised deck, railway sleepers are an excellent material for building up the platform and creating neat edges for your decking area.

How long do concrete sleepers last?

These sleepers are usually assumed to last perhaps 50 years, but changing operational and environmental factors can mean the actual life of the sleepers may be much shorter or longer.

Can I use fence paint on sleepers?

Exterior paints are available in a vast range of bold, neutral and garden shades and are the easiest way to transform your sleepers. Great for theming or zoning your spaces, the natural textures of your sleepers are enhanced with rich pigments.

What is an incised sleeper?

Incisions along the entire length of the sleeper create a neat yet distinctive pattern on all four sides. This allows the preservative treatment, applied under pressure, to penetrate deeper into the structure of the timber creating a robust and uniform envelope of protection.

What is a hardwood sleeper?

Hardwood sleepers are a perfect wood if you are looking for a traditional rustic look, while still holding heavy loads. Good, solid sleepers excellent for all purposes, such as garden retaining walls, garden bordering and general dividers. Also available in treated hardwood to order.

How long do eucalyptus sleepers last?

The natural oils in Eucalyptus contain insect, water, and moisture-repelling properties, protecting the timber from rot and decay. A small structure should last to an impressive 25 years on average, further adding to the reason it is becoming a more popular choice.

How do I protect my garden sleepers?

To preserve the sleepers further, we would recommend treating them with an exterior wood oil or decking oil, ideally twice a year in Spring and Autumn. This will help to repel water and prevent water ingress, the main cause of wood rot.

Why are sleepers called sleepers?

The common explanation of the origin of the word is to connect it with ” sleep,” the timbers supposed to be lying at rest. The real source of the word is the Norwegian sleep, a piece of timber used for dragging things over, a roller, especially used of timbers laid in a row in making a road.

What do you do with a sleeper?

  1. Raised beds. Using new or used railway sleepers to make raised beds for flowers or vegetables, will not only look great, but they are also very simple to construct.
  2. Lawn or path edging.
  3. A children’s sandpit.
  4. Steps.
  5. Retaining wall.
  6. Garden furniture.

How heavy is a sleeper?

Wooden sleepers are also comparatively cheap, as well as light and easy to transport, install and maintain. The average timber sleeper weighs around 160lb-250lb, whereas an equivalent sleeper made of concrete could weigh anything up to 800lb.

What are timber sleepers used for?

They are a popular option for outdoor decking and floating shelves. Typically, they are also used for raised beds. Furthermore, they can also be used imaginatively as part of patio furniture, or a bed base. Instead of fresh timber, wooden sleepers can add character to your decking.

What is a sleeper retaining wall?

One particular type of retaining wall is a sleeper retaining wall. These walls used wooden or concrete planks, usually built for use in railroad tracks (parts called sleepers since they simply lay in place and allow for trains to glide along them) to form the structure of the retaining wall.

What is the cheapest retaining wall?

The cheapest type of retaining wall is poured concrete. Prices start at $4.30 per square foot for poured concrete, $5.65 for interlocking concrete block, $6.15 for pressure-treated pine, and about $11 for stone.


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