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How to make a retaining wall with railway sleepers

How to make a retaining wall with railway sleepers

Wooden railway sleepers are an excellent alternative to bricks or concrete for building retaining walls in your garden. Not only do they look beautiful, but they are often a much more affordable option.

Sleepers can be used both horizontally and vertically when building a retaining wall. Using sleepers horizontally is more common when constructing a low level wall. The method you choose for construction should be determined by the height of the bed or bank that you wish to retain.

We have come up with three easy, step-by-step instructions on how to make a retaining wall using railway sleepers:

Step 1 – Mark out where to build your wall

Clear any surface vegetation and then measure and mark out where your wall will go. You will need to ensure the area is level. You can use a bed of sand if required.

Step 2 – Lay your sleepers

Lay your row of sleepers using your marked area as a guide. Try to leave a 1-2cm gap between each sleeper to allow for water drainage. You will need to ensure that this first layer is sitting flat on the ground, with no movement when you press on them.

All following rows of sleepers should overlap the joints in the bottom row, similar to the pattern of laying bricks. You can then add nails, rods or landscaping screws, (depending on the thickness of your sleepers) to hold the sleepers in place and improve the strength of the wall.

Step 3 - Finishing off

Continue to lay rows of sleepers until you reach your desired height and ensure all rows have been secured. You are now ready to fill the area inside your retaining wall.

Things to remember…

Remember to think about drainage. If there is a possibility of water building up behind your wall, you should ensure a layer of gravel, or a drainage pipe has been installed at the base of the sleepers. This will need to be done at the start of your build.

Also take into consideration that sleepers are very heavy and care should be taken when handling them. Ask a friend or family member for an extra pair of hands to help you complete your project.

For more ideas and inspiration on how you can use railway sleepers around your garden please see our previous blog post: How to Lay Railway Sleepers in the Garden.