Railway Sleepers: Not Just for Train Tracks!

Sleepers are crucial components in the building of railways, where they are used to provide strong, consistent support beneath the rails themselves. Though it is widely believed that they are called sleepers because they are lying at rest or even because they are used on a track 'bed', the term is actually derived from the Norwegian word sleip, referring to a piece of timber used as a roller for dragging other things over. 

As a growing number of people are choosing a rustic look for their garden and are looking to achieve it in a sustainable way, the use of railway sleepers for landscaping purposes is becoming more popular. In this edition of the Greengates Builders Merchant blog, we're going to show you how to rapidly build a raised bed using these versatile components. 

Raised beds are an ideal way to diversify your garden as you can grow a wider variety of flowers and plants in different types of soil. They provide excellent conditions for growing, allowing for the best drainage and ensuring that roots are kept in tip-top condition. 

This guide gives you details on creating a raised bed of a square shape though you can easily cut sleepers to specified lengths that will enable you to create different shapes. The first step is to order your sleepers from our website, along with ancillaries like screws, weed control fabric, cobbles, bark chippings and topsoil.

Scout out the perfect location and lay four sleepers (narrow side down) onto the ground in the shape of a square: you can create a raised bed on any surface including earth, concrete or grass. Using timber screws, attach the sleepers at the corners.

You can now add a second layer to this rudimentary box with four more sleepers, ensuring that the joins overlap as you would if you were laying bricks. Attach the sleepers together as above. Next, connect the second box to the first using long timber screws, drilling from the top down. An alternative method of attaching the boxes together is to use brackets. Further layers can be added if you wish by repeating these steps. 

Use weed control fabric to line the inside of the raised bed and place some cobbles inside to enhance drainage. You can then fill the bed with manure, soil or compost as required, before finishing with a layer of bark chippings or topsoil.  

Railway sleepers from Greengates Builders Merchant Accrington are made from premium timber that has been green-treated, giving them exceptional durability and making them highly resistant to rotting and damage from water. Two different sizes are available to choose from.

Check out our blog archive to read an article featuring lots more ways to use our timber sleepers to create amazing landscape features!

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