What Are Sleepers In Gardening?: A DIY Guide
Are you the type of person that wants to display a garden in a very organized way? Installing sleepers is an idea that you may want to look into.
So what are sleepers in gardening? Sleepers are raised borders, which are usually made of wood or concrete, containing plants. The commonly used sleepers are railway sleepers made of wood. They’re usually easy to spot because they hold raised flower beds, vegetable patches, and even herbs.
The Many Uses Of Garden Sleepers
Sleepers are not just dividing or standing walls. We use garden or railway sleepers because they are a beautiful feature in any garden design. There are other uses for sleepers, but what are sleepers in gardening, and where can they be seen? These are the common uses of garden sleepers:
- Raised Flower or Plant Beds – Using wooden sleepers, you can build raised beds for your herbs, vegetable patches, and flower beds. Using the sleepers as edging, it creates a unique and natural-looking border, not only on a flat level but also on a slope. You can build terraced beds if your lawn slopes.
- Compost Bin – Instead of having an ugly hill of compost in your yard, you can use wooden sleepers to contain your future fertilizer. Its three sides are usually of the same height, while one side is shorter for easy access.
- Furniture – Railway sleepers are also used as garden chairs, outdoor benches, and even outdoor tables. They give a very rustic look to your lawn.
- Walls – You may live in an area where you need to retain walls. Sleepers are used to support soil so it can be retained at different levels.
- Decking or Patio – If you’d like to have an alfresco feel to your lawn, using sleepers for as decking boards can give you that natural but sturdy accent.
The Different Types Of Sleepers
While there are many types of sleepers out there, these are the two mainly used sleepers:
- Railway Sleepers – Wood is used as a natural addition to any yard. They last a long time when treated before installing. If treated right, it can last, on average, up to 20 years.
- Concrete Sleepers – It is made from concrete and is virtually cheaper compared to hardwood. It can be used for retaining walls and can last a long time.
How much are sleepers for the garden? The cost depends on the type of sleeper you need.
Hardwood sleepers cost between $35 to $90 each, treated Pine sleepers cost between $13 to $29, while softwood treated sleepers cost between $22 to $29. It can be costly, but it is a good investment.
The Tools You Need To Lay Sleepers In Your Garden
Now that you know what are sleepers in gardening, you may be planning of doing it yourself. Here are a few things you need when installing railway sleepers.
- A Hand Saw – Some sleepers may need to be trimmed at the end so you can lock each panel properly.
- A Screwdriver – It is recommended to use a crosshead model for such cases. You may need to screw nails together.
- A Hammer – A heavy-duty hammer is recommended for thick sleepers.
- A Spirit Level – You will need this tool to indicate if a surface is level.
- Safety Goggles
- Protective Gloves
How To Lay Sleepers In Your Garden As Edging
Installing garden sleepers can be exciting. You can start with edging your raised beds or patches. First things first:
- Have you found the right location? Edgings are usually placed against the edges or walls of your lawn, but you can also position it at the center of your yard.
- Lay a base for your sleepers. This is optional. Your railway sleepers may need a foundation that is firm and level. It can help protect your sleepers from moisture and can last a long period of time. You can use concrete, sand, or gravel as a foundation.
- Place the sleepers on the surface. You can lay the sleeper on your foundation. You can also lay it straight on the deck if you are decking your patio.
- Make sure to fasten the sleepers together with sleeper screws. Lay the panels and fasten them together with two screws at the 90-degree corners. Enable at least 2 inches of the screw to cross over to the neighboring sleeper.
- Once you have screwed all panels together, you will need to insert a plastic membrane on the inside of the raised bed. It will act as a barrier between the sleeper and the dirt. You can use thick plastic bags from your local hardware store.
- Trim away any excess sleeper with a saw.
- Lastly, fill it with your favorite plants, herbs, or vegetable seedlings and watch it grow!
Are Garden Sleepers Important?
Sleepers are very popular in the gardening world. They clean up the lawn, creating a defined area between the plants, flowers, vegetables, and grass. It can hide unsightly things like compost, keep flower beds raised, protect vegetable patches from low-lying bugs, and makes the environment beautiful. Sleepers have a lot of uses and benefits, and they are versatile and durable.
After reading this article, answering the question “What are sleepers in gardening?” may not be limited to saying they’re “just planks of wood.” You now know the many uses of sleepers, how to install them, and the tools necessary to put them up.
When built, treated, and installed properly, your railway sleepers can last a long time. Building and installing your very own garden sleepers is fulfilling and would definitely put you a step up into the world of garden design. Now, when someone asks you, “What are sleepers in gardening?” You already have the answer and maybe even have the beds, edgings, patio, or walls to show for.
May 1, 2020
by: Andrew McGuire
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