How to Use Garden Railway Sleepers

There are many uses for garden railway sleepers. They can meet many of your garden, decking, yard decoration and overall property design and improvement needs. In fact, they are one of the most popular types of materials bought. Use them when creating gardens, wooden raised vegetable beds, large planters, decks of all kinds and every other application where you need strong or hefty wood structures or just the appearance of them.


As far as choice, you’ll be surprised at the incredible variety of garden railway sleepers available. First, determine your needs for sleepers: it will determine the size, type, length, cut and design you should purchase. Depending on your requirements, you can buy more sleek, contemporary new railway sleepers; rustic and rough-hewn varieties; mini-sleepers; and, several types of planking that serve the same purposes.

You can adapt all of these types of garden railway sleepers to suit your specific design. So use sketches, online and magazine pictures for inspiration. Steal and borrow ideas from every source available. Consult with experts in fencing and gardening to discover the many options. Only buy sleepers from a reputable dealer with a solid reputation, that has an established history of providing the best quality sleepers.

How can they be used?

Edging and Soil Retention

Uses include creating garden or stepped-yard edging or soil retention structures, bridges, seating bases or multi-level decking dividers. Sleepers cut short, planted vertically make a super retention wall for any type of garden, or a lawn area. For a bold look, use garden railway sleepers to edge your entire yard.

They can firmly support soil grades that contain trees and bushes, with great definition. Most often used for garden or property steps, sleepers add character and offer sure footing.

Do you have an older property or are you creating a rustic garden setting? Consider hardwood second-hand railway sleepers. Their aged look is ideal for renovated properties, and they’ll last for years.

Though they’ve not actually been used on railways, they contain creosote, so can’t be used indoors, as garden walls or where children might come in contact with them. This includes park, playground, toy or table use. Creosote can irritate skin and stain clothing.

Flower Planters

For flower and veggie planters, try pressure-treated softwood rustic sleepers. These give a perfect country look or blend into natural surrounding foliage, especially if combined with slate or bark ground covering. Mini sleepers make handsome garden railway sleepers, and are easy to handle. Minor mild splitting or shakes in dry periods only ups their appeal.

Hardwood oak sleepers excel for edging raised wooden beds and kerbing paths or area borders; their dense composition equals longevity.

Barriers and Structures

With hardwood planking such as oak, it will be easier going if you pre-drill holes in these sleepers. Buy good new oak sleepers such as those sold at AVS Fencing Supplies – the UK’s favourite gardening supplies company – and you’ll get untreated timber, best for use with edible plants.

Need a graduated-height wall for privacy, or simple step-way through a rock garden? Sleepers work perfectly. If you want a very unique look for raised beds, try easy-assemble jigsaw railways sleepers.

Half size second-hand sleepers make interesting bridges, or make a patio by laying them flat. Be sure to have plenty of help if moving heavy full size sleepers – they’re quite heavy. New sleepers work wonderfully as benches and other furniture, or simple garden corner nooks.

Try using railway sleepers in the garden by creating several raised garden beds with a pergola or other structure between them with a table and chairs for relaxation. You’ll soon be sleeping amongst the sleepers.


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