Railway sleepers have come a long way since their original use as the primary support for railway tracks. In recent years, their versatility has made them a trendy and eco-friendly material for landscaping and construction projects. One of the most popular applications is building a railway sleeper retaining wall. This sustainable method not only adds an aesthetic appeal to your garden but also helps prevent soil erosion and manage water drainage effectively. In this blog post, you'll learn step-by-step how to build a durable and attractive retaining wall using railway sleepers. Let's get started!

Why You Should Consider Railway Sleepers for Your Retaining Wall

Railway sleepers serve as an excellent choice for retaining walls because they offer several benefits compared to other materials like concrete or bricks. Here are just a few reasons you might want to use railway sleepers for your project:

1. Aesthetic appeal: Railway sleepers provide a natural, rustic look that can add character to your garden or landscaped area.  

2. Cost-effective: Old or reclaimed sleepers tend to be cheaper than other options, and there is minimal waste during construction.  

3. Sustainability: By using recycled materials, you're reducing both landfill waste and potential deforestation for new wood sourcing.  

4. Easy installation: With a few basic tools and supplies, you can easily construct a railway sleeper retaining wall with minimal experience or expertise.

Building Your Railway Sleeper Retaining Wall: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Planning and Design  

First, determine the size and shape of your retaining wall. Sketch the design on paper, and don't forget to consider any changes in slope or elevation if your garden is on a hill.  

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Tools  

You will need the following items for building the retaining wall:

- Railway sleepers (preferably treated or hardwood)

- Gravel or small stones for drainage

- Timber screws or other heavy-duty fasteners

- A handsaw or circular saw

- A power drill with appropriate bits

- A level, measuring tape, string line, and pegs

- A shovel, wheelbarrow, and work gloves

Step 3: Prepare the Site  

Prepare the ground by digging a trench along where you plan to build the wall. The trench should be deep enough to bury the first row of sleepers, and at least 6 inches wider than the sleepers' width to accommodate drainage material.

Step 4: Install the Base Layer  

Lay down a 3-inch layer of gravel or small stones in the trench for proper drainage. Compact the material using a hand tamper, and then check it's level along the entire length.

Step 5: Place the First Row of Sleepers  

Carefully lay the sleepers end-to-end on top of the gravel until you complete the first row. Ensure that they are sitting level and tightly connected to minimize gaps, as this will increase the wall's stability.

Step 6: Attach the Remaining Sleepers  

Stack the additional sleepers on top of the first row, staggering the joints like a brick wall for better structural support. Ensure each sleeper is level before securing it to the one below using timber screws or other suitable fasteners.