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Alternative to railway sleepers

I want to build a reasonable number of raised vegetable beds and automatically thought of railway sleepers but before I go down that route has anyone come across any viable ulternatives that are robust in the same way?



  • B3B3 Posts: 13,671

    Got some 'sleepers' in Wickes. Can't remember the price but they were cheaper than I expected, but then I only needed a few.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • There are alternatives - interlocking boards made of recycled stuff - sorry but can't think of the name - look for Raised Beds and it should bring up some ideas.

  • Scaffold boards ?

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,851

    I was going to say that


    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • Richard168Richard168 Posts: 115


    I want to make the raised beds waist high as I am planning for my older age when bending is not so easy so I would be looking at something that I can stack and will last 20 to 25 years.

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,851

    The reason we're using scaffold boards is that I wanted fairly large beds but can't afford to buy in vast amounts of top soil. So we start one board high and gradually build it up, adding a row of boards every few years as I add compost each winter. The boards come 4.8m long as standard. Stout posts at the corners and centre of the long sides provide enough stability to get to 3 boards high (which would be just under 700mm high).

    Personally I wouldn't go higher or it becomes difficult to apply enough downward pressure to get the root veg up without climbing onto the bed (which rather defeats the object). 

    Unless you're 7 feet tall, of course 

    Last edited: 30 August 2016 09:09:46

    “This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic.”
    ― Terry Pratchett
  • Richard, railway sleepers- and wood in general- aren't a great idea for vegetable beds because the wood is treated and obviously it becomes hugely toxic.  Imitation railway sleepers are even worse because the treatment is not as good as actual sleepers so they'll just rot away after a few years.  The best thing for such longevity is probably to lay brick down.  Otherwise you could possibly use those black recycled plastic posts and boards you see around the place which might offer you more flexibility (as you could make them removable like a compost heap) but they will probably cost quite a bit.

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,985

    I have new sleepers holding up a border in my garden. They have been in place for years and have had no detrimental affect on plants. Go for them!

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Richard168Richard168 Posts: 115

    I had used old railway sleepers in my last garden and they had been good for 20+ years without any impact on the veg I grew. It is my fallback position to use them again but before doing so wanted to check on any alternatives.

    Thanks for all the feedback

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 5,813

    One thing to bear in mind with high raised beds is that they will dry out much quicker, so lot more watering may be needed.

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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