Old railway with wooden sleepers

Designing a garden on a budget is challenging, particularly at the minute, as the price of almost everything is rising. One material that has become a staple of budget-friendly landscaping is the ever-trusted railway sleeper. These robust pieces of timber, traditionally used in the railway industry to separate the tracks, have a range of potential uses in a garden transformation. Whether your design can benefit from a set of steps or requires a retaining wall for structural purposes, railway sleepers are always a worthy option to consider.

Why do we use railway sleepers?

Incorporating railway sleepers into the design of a garden has become extremely popular; where possible, our Barnsley landscape gardeners use them to create bespoke features - particularly on projects where the customer prefers to stick to a lower budget. We also take into account the type of garden design. In a traditional design, timber will fit right in, but if everything else is porcelain-clad, maybe a better finish would be a split-face tile. To determine whether railway sleepers are suitable for your garden transformation, why not arrange an initial site visit with a landscape gardener in Barnsley?

Versatility is one of the key benefits when it comes to railway sleepers. We can integrate a sleeper into your garden's design to serve various functions whilst still looking aesthetically pleasing. As a budget-friendly choice, with up to a 25-year lifetime, it is hard to go wrong with railway sleepers, particularly given their availability in many colours. Our landscapers in Barnsley love them, too, as they are easy to move, install and cut to size as required.

Steps built with railway sleepers

When adding a second or third level to your garden design, you must create steps to enable access between the different tiers. Building steps and retaining walls can become pricey rather quickly; one way to keep the cost down is by using railway sleepers to create the required stairs. If we use railway sleepers to build your steps, we can still achieve a stylish finish, creating a bespoke solution as we can customise the sleepers by cutting them to your preferred sizes. You can even paint your newly installed sleepers for a more contemporary garden design to ensure they match the space's aesthetic.

Installing railway sleepers should be left to the professionals. Did you know that when these heavy-duty pieces of timber are wet, they can weigh up to 11 stone? You can avoid potential injury by working in pairs and always following best practices when lifting. We are constantly drilling into the importance of safe lifting to our entire team; you only get one back! Leave the hard graft to our team of Barnsley landscapers; let's discuss your garden project.

steps built with railway sleepers

Add edges to your garden with railway sleepers

Creating a division between the different parts of a garden design whilst tying everything together is a problem we regularly must overcome. If you don't make a seamless transition between the various design elements, you end up with a disjointed garden which nobody wants. To create an edging between an Indian stone patio and an artificial lawn area, we can use railway sleepers to divide the two. When discussing your garden transformation with a Barnsley landscape gardener, they will explore the most suitable edges to use in your garden.

Are you an avid gardener? We hear it is an exciting pastime! Would you like to dabble your hand at growing vegetables and being self-sufficient? No problem. At Barnsley Landscapes, a regular request is "I'd like a raised planting bed with railway sleepers". A raised planting bed is ideal for keeping pesky doggies away from your produce; my labrador Nala loves to dig - so a ground-level planting bed would be a recipe for disaster. You'll be feeding your homegrown family potatoes as part of the Sunday roast in no time.

Railway sleepers for retaining walls

When a garden is uneven throughout, and level changes are needed to improve its usability, we usually need to construct a retaining wall of some specification. Not only will a retaining wall make your garden look fabulous, it is there for a reason, too; this is more often than not to hold the ground in position. There are several different types of retaining walls; whether you decide to use brick and stone or if you need a more budget-friendly option, railway sleepers are the perfect alternative.

The only caveat to consider when choosing railway sleepers for your garden's retaining wall is that they are timber, and their integrity will degrade as they age. Railway sleepers are solid and rigid pieces of wood, and they have to be to serve their intended purpose on the railway. But they will need replacing sometime in the future. To increase the lifespan of your railway sleepers, it is always good practice to use treated timber and to waterproof them as much as possible. Following good practice can add years to the lifespan of your railway sleepers.

Should you use railway sleepers in your garden design?

When considering ideas to go into a budget-friendly garden design, our Barnsley landscape gardeners would put railway sleepers at the top of your list. Although they are cheaper than the alternatives, such as a block-built retaining wall with split-face porcelain cladding, they are still a visually pleasing option that won't break your bank account. Given their inherent strength, to the point they are used on the railway to align the tracks, you can be sure of their integrity when using them in your garden project. The only downside is the price of railway sleepers is increasing, and the cost of timber has gone through the roof since the onset of the pandemic, although they are still a lot cheaper than the other options. For high-quality railway sleepers, we would recommend The Sawmill located in Wakefield.

Would you like to explore some of the ways we can integrate railway sleepers into your garden's transformation? The best people to speak to about the possibilities are our landscape gardeners in Barnsley, who use railway sleepers daily in their projects. To arrange an initial consultation to discuss your project's scope, please complete our request a quote form, and we will be happy to assist.

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