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Rotting bed problem. HELP PLEASE!

We inherited a raised bed made of sleepers along the corner of our small garden that appears to be rotting at a rapid rate! I think the previous owner may have just stuck it in quickly to sell the property without treating it. 
This morning I found a whole chunk of the sleeper on the patio. 
What can I do to repair, replace or keep it going? Help please! 


  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,627
    We have exactly the same problem, but on a much bigger scale.  We will have to replace, you cannot (IMO) treat that level of rot with any kind of chemical treatment.  If you do decide to replace, it's best to put some membrane between the new sleeper and the soil to minimise any direct contact.  Another very important tip, which we did not learn soon enough; do not let any plants grow over the top of the sleeper, as this leads to moisture and mould which rapidly rots them.  Where we kept the top of our sleepers exposed to air and sun, they are in almost perfect shape after 6 years.  Good luck.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,245
    That hasn't just been put in. 
    You'll either have to remove everything and start again, with a new timber wall properly prepped  [ie lined to prevent rotting ] or a brick or block one.
    Or, you could add an extra layer of something over the top. That in itself would mean a bit of work - installing new concreted posts and new timber, or similar. It wouldn't be particularly ideal though, and would mean it would encroach on your paving a bit, depending on how you did it, and what you used. 
    Either way - you'd need to remove some planting, and unless you already have timber etc, you'll struggle to get anything in the near future, unless you have a builders merchant who will deliver - if they have the goods you'd need.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 516
    Thank you so much for responding!
    Is it fairly straightforward to replace the sleepers or did you have to pull everything out of the bed and start over?
    Thanks again! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,245
    My raised beds are all done with fencing timber, with concreted in posts at corners, and at other spots in longer beds, and lined inside.
    They also have a 'coping' - decorative edge, so that can be replaced if necessary.

    You could do the same with sleepers to avoid the problem @KeenOnGreen describes. It's more likely to have that problem when the sleepers are on their ends and have the grain open. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Loraine3Loraine3 Posts: 514
    I think I would try and keep it going for the time being and have a go in the autumn/winter.As Keen on Green says try and remove the growth on the top of the wood and hopefully it may dry out a bit. All the plants will need removing and repotting, hopefully the rose may be able to stay. When you remove the wood the whole lot will probably collapse. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, as I say, keep it going till the winter.
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 516
    Thanks  @Fairygirl I hadn't considered building something around it.. Our space is very small though so perhaps a start over is the way forward. Do you think we could keep the main structural planting against the wall? The climbing roses and camellia in particular or would you dig them out and plant them back once done?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,245
    I think only you can make that judgement @Ffoxglove.
    Sorry, that's not very helpful.
    By the look of your photo, it might be possible to leave them. It would really depend on how you wanted to go about a new barrier. 
    Have you tried moving any of the sleepers at all? How are they fixed in? Or are they 'sitting' , with a set of battens/timbers holding them in behind? Maybe on a concrete base?
    They do look like they're sitting on the soil - I can see a bit of rot right down there. If it's feasible, you could lift them out, and lay a concrete base, to then replace with the same or similar. The bed itself might stay in place quite well, but it would be best to test it with one or two sleepers first. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 516
    I think they are just sitting and they do look most rotted at the bottom... This might be crazy but could it work if I took them down and made it into a normal flower bed? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,245
    I think you've got too much height there in the bed.  You could do it if you were to take all the plants out, or maybe a happy medium if you could put in a low barrier of some kind. 
    I think taking all the planting at the back out will be tricky. It would depend on how well you can get them out, and how well they move back.
    Worth thinking about though, if you can keep them safely until the bed is sorted up  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 516
    Thank you both for your responses. When the shops open back up and I can get some bits I'll have a go at replacing it first, keeping as much planting at the back as possible. Then if that doesn't work well have to rebuild it from scratch! 
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