How to lay garden sleepers

Gardens have given some people a new lease of life during the COVID-19 crisis, as one of the only ways to spend a significant period outdoors. The lockdown has also given millions of people more than a month of extra time on their hands, serving as the perfect time to lay garden sleepers.

How to lay garden sleepers

Garden landscapers make use of railway sleepers to give people’s gardens a regimented, rustic design.

Sleepers are planks of wood which often look washed out or burnished, traditionally used to support railway tracks.

In gardening, they make useful raised beds and have several more uses.


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Tools needed:

  • PPE: Gloves, goggles and other protection
  • Spirit level: To ensure the sleepers are stable
  • Saw: Sleepers are more like blocks than planks and may need additional sawing to fit well
  • Screwdriver: Preferably a cross head with some wooden screws

Sleeper edging

Sleepers can be stacked or laid down around the edge of a garden to provide a tidy border.

People can also insert them into a trench 300mm wide or to a preferred length, on top of 6:1 mortar as a concrete base.

The concrete bed should be at least 50mm, creating a secure base for the sleepers.

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Sleeper planters

People who want to build a planter must choose or create a location in their garden free of vegetation.

There, they should dig a trench three to four courses in height and create a semi-dry mix of concrete in their trench to lay the sleepers on.

Each course of sleepers should overlap on straight sections and corners, and fixed with TimberLOK Heavy Duty Wood Screws.

Once piled to a preferred height, people should smooth the edges, apply a wood preservative and fill the planter with topsoil before planting anything.

Sleeper terraces

Sleepers can also support a terrace around their edge.

Laid on their side, they make the perfect height for a stepped lawn or patio, according to landscapers with

They advise people to secure them into the ground using short fence posts, which create a rigid structure.

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