railway sleepers

Why should you incorporate railway sleepers into your garden's design? As you can imagine, these pieces of timber acquired their name through their use on the railway to separate and hold the tracks in position. In addition to their use on the railway, sleepers are hugely popular in landscaping due to the multitude of purposes they can fulfil. This article aims to explore the benefits and pitfalls of railway sleepers, and our Bury landscape gardeners will give their verdict on whether they are a worthy feature to include in your new garden.

railway sleepers

What are the main benefits of railway sleepers?

  1. Cost-effective - compared to other materials, railway sleepers are more affordable, although their price has increased tenfold in the aftermath of COVID-19 and now the war in Ukraine. However, if you are choosing between a block-built and sleeper retaining wall, timber is by far the most affordable option.
  2. Longevity - when our Bury landscapers design and build a new garden, we always think about the installation's lifespan; we aim to give you a garden that will withstand the test of time. You will be glad to know that railway sleepers are durable, and if you look after them properly, you can expect them to last for around 20 - 30 years.
  3. Options - we can supply sleepers for your upcoming project in different types of wood to suit your chosen design. The type of wood can extend its lifespan with styles such as oak lasting for up to 50 years. When designing your garden, our Bury landscapers will explore all the options with you to find the best solution.
  4. Cheaper installation - sleepers are cheaper to purchase than alternate materials, but the installation process is also more inexpensive due to their lightweight profile. We can manoeuvre sleepers easily, and as they are bigger in size, there are fewer to fit when compared to building a block-built wall.

What purposes can railway sleepers serve?

  1. Sleeper steps.

Do you have an uneven garden? If so, you will probably want a split-level design for your space, as it's the most cost-effective approach to make a sloping garden usable. We can incorporate railway sleepers into a split-level design by building a set of bespoke railway sleeper steps to allow you to access each tier of your garden.

It is relatively simple for our Bury landscape gardeners to create a set of steps to your desired specification because sleepers are easy to cut to size. The customizability offered by this product means we can create the perfect set of steps to tie in with the rest of your chosen garden design. You can't go too far wrong with a bunch of sleeper steps, as they will almost certainly add an element of sophistication to your garden's design.

We always recommend using treated railway sleepers; otherwise, you will end up disappointed by their longevity. Once installed, you should recoat your sleepers with a suitable varnish once a year to maximise the time they last in your garden. One final word of caution, if you decide to install the sleepers yourself, please do not lift them when wet, as they can weigh up to 10 times more than if they were dry and can lead to a nasty injury!

2.   Borders and edges

As part of the planning phase of your project, our garden design will look to ensure that your design is well tied together. Your new garden will likely include different sections; one way to create a border between them is to use railway sleepers. Say you have an area of artificial grass to the right of your garden and then some Indian sandstone to the left; as a border between the two, you could create a picture frame with stylish railway sleepers. Sound good? Arrange a consultation with a landscape gardener in Bury to discuss your project.

Another way we can incorporate railway sleepers into your garden's design is to create a set of raised beds suitable for planting or growing vegetables. Raising your produce off the ground is always a wise idea, particularly if you have a dog that may fancy a dig! Or, how does a raised pond created with sleepers sound to you? That's a feature that will make your garden stand out!

railway sleepers

3.   Retaining walls

Sometimes to make a garden a functional space, you will need to retain earth by building a retaining wall. We can use railway sleepers to build a retaining wall that is functional and stylish. Earlier in this post, we discussed adding steps; these can be integrated into the middle or side of your wall to allow you to access different levels in a split-level garden design.

Our landscape gardeners in Bury would only recommend against using railway sleepers for your retaining wall because their lifespan is limited as they are timber. The lifespan is infinite if you choose a different option, such as a block-built wall with porcelain cladding. Another worthy option for your consideration is concrete railway sleepers.

Should I use railway sleepers in my new garden?

If you want a cheaper alternative to some of the other costlier materials, railway sleepers may be a suitable option to consider for your upcoming landscaping project. They are strong and serve various purposes, such as steps, borders, edges, planters, and retaining walls. There are more robust and better materials available to you, but you should consider your budget and the aesthetic you want to achieve. Do your research before you choose. This article is a useful starting point, but you should see sleepers in action before you make a decision; check Pinterest for some inspiration!

Would you like to discuss the scope of your project with a professional Bury landscaper? We design and build high-quality garden designs using only the best materials to ensure that your new garden will last. Schedule an initial consultation to get the ball rolling on your upcoming project.

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