How to use sleepers in your garden design…

New Oak SleepersI hope you all took the opportunity to check out the Forestrall promotional video included in last weeks blog?  If you haven’t had the chance to view it, you can now see it on the home page of the website at

As we head into the gloom of autumn / winter, you may still be considering ways to beautify your garden, whether to get the most out of it throughout the end of this year or in preparation for the onset of spring next year.

Railway sleepers have become increasingly popular in many gardens as a low cost and eye-catching landscaping material. They can be used in the construction of a number of garden features and projects such as retaining walls and planters, steps, garden furniture and feature benches.

Reclaimed railway sleepers

Building retaining walls from timber sleepers is a really cost effective and environmentally friendly way of creating different levels in your garden. If you have a sloping garden or an uneven area that you would like to make use of, timber sleepers can be used to level the garden. Sleepers can also be used to create raised planting beds or vegetable borders, raised beds are easier to maintain and provide more protection to plants from pests.

Growing your own vegetables is a rising trend as more people want the pleasure in cultivating their own, organic produce. There is something completely satisfying about growing your own vegetables from a seed and serving them up on a plate for the whole family to enjoy.  Eating fresh vegetables, free from pesticides is healthy, nutritious and tastes great too. You can create a clearly defined area for vegetable growing with sleepers.  They are ideal for the job, as they’re extremely durable and tough enough to bear weight of the soil. To create, first decide what height you want your raised beds to be: ankle height, knee height or higher. Whichever one you choose, wooden garden sleepers will create an attractive, rustic effect and work well with any garden.

New Oak Raised Bed Kit

The most practical use for sleepers is as an alternative material for constructing garden steps. The hardwood timber railway sleepers are designed to be hard-wearing enough to withstand the constant pressure of speeding trains, and this makes them an ideal material for steps. They provide an attractive finish and as the sleepers age their rustic charm will develop even further. Sleepers which are properly treated can last for many years, with relatively little upkeep.

For those with a little more time and an artistic flair, sleepers are an excellent core material from which to make a range of different furniture. Popular items include everything from garden room tables, chairs and benches, to beds and fire-surrounds. For items like this, untreated softwood sleepers are the preferred choice. Sleepers which are used in furniture making are often sanded to a very smooth finish and treated with either wax or specialist timber resins.

In recent years, using railway sleepers to construct children’s sandpits has also become popular. Much in the same way as constructing raised flower beds, the internal sides of the sleepers are coated with a black membrane to ensure that the sand does not degrade the timber over time.

Softwood Treated Sleepers

When it comes to including railway sleepers within your garden design, there are limitless possibilities. Whether it’s decorative or functional, their sturdy build and natural finish will suit almost any garden.


Sleepers can vary in length but because of their size, they can bring results quickly, instantaneously adding to your garden design.  The aged wooden appearance of sleepers can bring a natural quality to the aesthetics of your garden.

Originally, railway sleepers were just that – heavy wooden sleepers used in the construction of the nation’s railway network. Reclaimed sleepers were obtained when railway lines were upgraded or renovated.  However there are a wide range of different types of reclaimed, new hardwood and softwood sleepers available, and these can be purchased direct from the Forestrall yard or can be ordered online.

If you want to be inspired with some fabulous photos of sleepers in garden design, then take a look at Wilsons Yard Blog.  If however, you think that you’re ready to go with adding a designer touch to your own garden, then do contact Forestrall to purchase all the necessary sleepers and screws.

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