Pros and cons of using railway sleepers to create a retaining wall

I am planning to raise my lawn and build a retaining wall. Breeze blocks are probably the cheapest, but I fancy a wooden wall. I wondered what pros and cons railway sleeper walls have supporting a reasonable size garden.
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  • KT53KT53 Posts: 3,609

    The only 'cons' I can think of is the weight to shift to get them in place and having a drill and drill bit that are man enough to go through the sleepers to tie them together with reinforcing rods.  Other than that I think it's all positives.

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  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    We used old sleepers which treated with smelly stuff as Mr J says BUT they don't seem to harm the plants and they won't rot in 50 years.  You could use new sleepers which are beautiful and golden but as they are untreated, they will rot soon.....

    Breeze blocks look ugly.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 3,609
    Redwing wrote (see)

    We used old sleepers which treated with smelly stuff as Mr J says BUT they don't seem to harm the plants and they won't rot in 50 years.  You could use new sleepers which are beautiful and golden but as they are untreated, they will rot soon.....

    Breeze blocks look ugly.

    New sleepers are tanalised and should last for many years.  Not as long as the old sleepers which are pretty much soaked through with a mixture of creosote and tar, but will probably still see you out.

  • chris 172chris 172 Posts: 403

    Hi all

    modern sleepers are treated by using a pressurised system which forces the wood preservative into the wood which can be used for raised beds etc etc.

    Old sleepers are an excellent display however they are old treated timbers that were used on the railways were oil, and creosote which you cannot buy now which is not friendly.

    If you used old sleepers you could line the inside with a quality polytheen so that there would be no seepage into the soil with possible harm to plants

    Happy gardening

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Isn't the creosote supposed to be toxic to plants?

  • chris 172chris 172 Posts: 403

    Hi

    it is certainly toxic to humans............

  • madwomanmadwoman Posts: 2

    Ive used old sleepers for all my raised beds and haven't had any problems with plants dying. The only downside to them is the weight, thank goodness I have very strong sons,

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 56,660
    We've used new sleepers to hold back the Shady Bank. The builder drilled through them and hammered steel rods 18" into the ground. They're rock solid and blend well with the garden.
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 18,191

    We have used old sleepers complete with occasional metal straps to make retaining walls varying form knee to waist height to level our veg plot at the back and a fruit plot at the side behind the parking area.   We got chaps in with bulldozers to move the soil and muscles and machinery to move and cut the sleepers.   They lined the soil side with sheets of black plastic to stop moisture from the soil rotting them too soon. 

    No problems with smells or stains in the 15 or so years they've been there.  We have lichen and moss growing on them so they're definitely not toxic, despite their soaking in whatever..

    The more interesting - but only knee height - retaining wall is made form wine bottles......

     

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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