Raised sleeper beds

Hello.
I would like to make some raised beds in my garden using sleepers but I'm not sure how to go about it, there seems to be mixed views on whether to concrete the sleepers in or just level out the soil and sit them in.
I would rather not have to concrete them in, but I would be very grateful for any tips or hints from anyone.
Thanks very much!
Tom
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Posts

  • Richard168Richard168 Posts: 109
    Personally I would lay them on level ground and then put a couple of large decking type screws at the corner to make the joint.
  • Just lay them straight in the soil without laying concrete or anything first? That's what I would prefer to do. Cheers
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 24,447
    How big are you making them Tom? Also - which way are you laying them - on their narrow edge or on their broadest one? If they're going to be more than one sleeper high and on their narrow edge, you'll need posts concreted in at the corners to attach them to, and/or reinforcing rod driven through them vertically for stability. 
    A single layer on their broad edge doesn't need much fixing [if any] as long as the ground is level to start with, especially if it's just for a small raised bed for veg or general planting   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • I was thinking of going a couple of sleepers high on their narrow side. I had thought of using rods in the corners, driven through predrilled holes and into soil. Also was going to use inside corner braces for extra support.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 24,447
    Sounds ideal Tom. If the beds are longer than one sleeper you'd need some of the rods done at intervals along them. I'd probably put some in anyway as they'll be holding back a lot of soil. Better safe than sorry!
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 3,059
    I used treated sleepers on the narrow edge 3 courses high for my beds and just quion lapped the corners and nailed them in place. They haven't moved for 10 years but some have totally rotted out now so don't waste your money on the treated ones in my opinion. There's very little pressure from the soil inside so they don't need especially extreme fixing. Some galvanised corner braces and stainless screws would hold it fine. Fit them inside for concealment or outside with a nice coat of hammerite for a wrought iron look if you like. Sit the sleepers on a bed of gravel to keep the bases dry. 
  • Lily PillyLily Pilly Central southern Scotland Posts: 3,834
    We have used sleepers here for our fruit cages. Best bit of advice I git was don’t buy treated ones. They can leak into your soil!
    Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
    A A Milne
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 3,059
    We have used sleepers here for our fruit cages. Best bit of advice I git was don’t buy treated ones. They can leak into your soil!
    The newer treatment chemicals are supposed to be safe but it's always a good idea to check. Reclaimed sleepers can be full of dodgy stuff though and you'd never know.
  • If you want the sleepers to last as long as possible you would be better off making sure they are not in direct contact with the grass.

    If you don't want to lay concrete then you could dig the slightest of depths where your sleepers will sit, stick some sort of sub base down, pack it down and place your sleepers on top of it (or even put some kind of membrane on top to the sub base first then the sleeper on top of that).

    But to be honest even dumping the sleepers straight on to the grass you wont really see any rotting etc to them for quite some time!
  • My beds have been in place for 14 years. I decided to only use a single height sleeper as the base soil is good. I made 4 beds in a row each approx 8 foot square. Psychologically it's easy to drum up the enthusiasm to manage an 8 foot square bed rather than tackle a larger area. During the odd quiet moment you can also sit on the sleeper whist weeding; very theraputic. Each year they are topped up with chicken manure and my own compost. Worked well for me.

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