How wooden sleepers can revitalise your garden - Renovation Warehouse

From cheap new or used timber to replacement door handles, Renovation Warehouse Whangarei is where house parts and new and used timber can be found under one roof, including wooden decorations for the garden such as sleepers.

Sleepers have grown in popularity in gardens for good reasons: they make your garden look organised and attractive and they’re made of natural, organic wood which blends nicely into your garden.

At Renovation Warehouse, we almost always have sleepers, fresh cut and (and sometimes used) in stock. Fresh cut sleepers are usually H4 pine or Macrocarpa (untreated) and often 200x100mm, 2100mm long – the pine is treated against rot and borer. Macrocarpa is not treated and has natural oils that delay the onset of rot and bug infestations.

Sleepers will make your green areas neat, interesting and attractive. Here are a few ideas on how to use them:

Building A Retaining Wall With Sleepers

Retaining perhaps 200mm-600mm of soil is a job for sleepers, usually dependant on the soil type and loading. They come with right angles, you can drive fasteners through them, the colour looks mint and they’re sturdy but also easy to pull out in future for adjustments.

Here are the tools you’ll need to build a retaining wall with sleepers:

A decent spade to dig out the soil with

  • A chainsaw to cut through any overhang once the sleepers are stacked and held together
  • A spirit level – although you may be building against a slope, your sleeper retaining wall will look far more attractive if it’s perpendicular.
  • A drill to drive the screws through the sleepers (or nails 125 – 150mm)

Follow the following steps and your retaining wall should be safe, so long as you’re not holding back more than a metre of soil.

  1. Drive poles and stakes into the ground where possible and fix the sleepers to these
  2. Join every single sleeper in the corners discretely, and spread the screws so that their strength isn’t too concentrated in one part of the wood
  3. Backfill the wall with shingle / scoria to allow water to pass through and not get trapped, as trapped water will want to rot through the wood or can overload the structure.

Make a raised garden bed with sleepers – similar to a planter box.

Unless you want your raised garden bed to be movable like a planter box, begin by digging out a depression for your bottom sleepers then drive stakes or short treated posts in front of the sleepers and into the ground to hold your bottom sleepers in place. Put landscaping nails or screws through your sleepers into the stakes to hold everything together. Now you have a frame upon which to build your raised garden bed with sleepers.  You can also drill small holes and drive 30cm of re-bar through to help settle them.

Make the raised garden bed no more than 1000mm wide, and probably not more than 600mm tall, as many gardeners like to sit on the edge of the bed, lean against it or put their knees in the soil and like to be able to reach all parts of the bed from one corner.

A couple of tips: don’t forget to sink the bottom half of the bottom sleeper into the earth to make it more aesthetically pleasing and to help ‘key’ it into the ground.

Try not to paint sleepers as you will lose the natural effect of the wood colour. Sleepers don’t usually need to be tinted or stained, although this is doable if the pine is too blond in colour – your choice, though au naturel is best!

Also, make sure the ends of the sleepers dovetail (overlap) so they can be joined with maximum strength.

A few other uses for sleepers

  • a simple line of sleepers laid end to end and discretely joined can provide a nice definition/edge to the garden
  • Stuck vertically into the ground, sleepers make an extremely strong low fence, feature, or can hold up anything from a trellis to a bird bath.
  • A small square grid of sleepers makes an ideal organic shelter for young trees.

Many people build steps from sleepers – in particular, sleepers are easy to join to a wooden deck and the colours match.

Ps – don’t forget to check out our TradeMe listings

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Just look for the BIG ORANGE building next to the Caltex truck stop.

28 Kioreroa Road
Port Whangarei 0110

Phone: 0800-274-438 or 438-2887