RAISED BED KITS
Do you fancy building a raised bed from RAILWAY SLEEPERS? Are you thinking of creating a raised bed or planter with railway sleepers to add something extra to your garden? A special feature, some raised vegetable beds, or a beautiful raised border? Well, constructing a raised bed out of railway sleepers is amazingly straightforward. Very quick & simple, with very little tools needed, and our KITS provide you with everything you need! Our KIT is SIMPLE! Think lego or wooden building blocks. Easy!
Recipe of a Raised Bed
+ + + =
New sleepers + All the fixings + FREE Hex bit
= Masterpiece!! Well done!
And the GOOD NEWS is... all you need is a drill & someone to help you put them together!
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT SIZES
Although we refer to the different raised bed kits as a specific size, they are in fact slightly larger, according to how you choose to put the pieces together. e.g. with a 2400mm x 1200mm raised bed kit, you might put the 1200mm lengths at each end, or in the middle, or overlapping! Don't worry if it sounds complicated, because it's really obvious when you start putting the pieces side by side on the ground.
If we take KIT No.13 as an example. It is described online as 2400mm (long) x 1200mm (wide) x 200mm (high) and 100mm (thick). In fact there are THREE different finishing sizes that you could come up with, using identical pieces (2 x 2400mm & 2 x 1200mm)
Option A: 2400mm x 1400mm
Option B: 2500mm x 1300mm
Option C: 2600mm x 1200mm
It's all about how you place them together on the ground! Be assured that whichever size you decide to go for it's very straightforward to assemble and all the fixings you need are there. Most importantly, the vegetables and flowers will be FANTASTIC!
HOW TO BUILD YOUR RAISED BED KIT
Constructing a raised bed out of railway sleepers is amazingly straightforward. Think of lego or wooden building blocks. Very quick & simple, with very little tools needed.
1) Choose where you want to put the raised bed
Consider where the raised bed will be positioned and whether you can stand or sit next to one side of the raised bed, or whether both sides are accessible.
2) Lay the railway sleepers on the ground.
Place the railway sleepers on the ground in a square or rectangular shape, with the railway sleepers touching at the 90 degree corners. (Like creating a big picture frame). The railway sleepers should ideally be laid on a surface that is level and firm. Many people simply lay them down directly on the earth, grass, deck or concrete. Perfectionists and engineers will probably consider a foundation of concrete or hardcore, but more mortal people will often go for the simpler, quicker option. Whichever surface you decide to lay the railway sleepers on, it is important to think of the drainage of the raised bed, otherwise you may unintentionally be constructing a raised pond!
3) Fasten them together
Fasten the railway sleepers together with the Timberlok sleeper screws supplied in the kit. Once you have placed the railway sleepers on the ground on their narrow edge, as in the photo opposite, then simply screw them together at the 90 degree corners, allowing at least 50mm
(or 2") of the screw to go into the adjoining sleeper. Each kit allows for two screws per corner.
4) Stack and fix a second layer (For raised bed kits with 2 layers).
Simply repeat stage 3, apart from the fact that you are placing the second layer of railway sleepers on top of the already positioned first layer. Screw the second layer together at the 90 degree corners, as above, allowing at least 2 screws per corner. Once you've done that, you will have two or more layers sitting on top of each other, but NOT attached to each other. Simply now fasten the two layers together with the 4 longer Timberlok screws in the kit that will screw through the top layer to the layer below.
TIP: It may be worth first drilling a pilot hole through the two layers to ensure the long screws go all the way through. Otherwise they may get stuck half way through, which is embarrassing, and creates doubt in the eyes of your nearest and dearest.
If you don't want the screws to be seen from the top, screw at 45 degrees on the inside of the raised bed, through the side of the top layer into the layer below. Alternatively you can use a batten or metal strip to fasten the different layers together. The whole structure is now interlocked.
You have now created a raised bed that all connected, and could be picked up in one piece by a crane if you had the inclination!
5) OPTIONAL. Attaching a plastic membrane
Some landscapers chose to fix a plastic sheet on the inside of the raised bed, to create a barrier between the wet soil and the railway sleeper. Occasionally people will even use heavy duty plastic refuse bags, but normally landscapers use a thicker heavy-duty plastic that won't degrade in the soil, like a builder's damp proof membrane (DPC), that you can get in any DIY shop. IMPORTANT. Make sure that water cannot be trapped between the plastic and the railway sleeper when it rains etc... This will have the adverse effect of encouraging rot, NOT preventing it! Make sure that any water is kept out of this space. There are also landscapers who paint the surface of the railway sleeper that is in contact with the soil with bitumen barrier paint or a damp proof product that you would brush onto walls if you had a damp problem. Likewise there are people who apply fence or shed treatment every couple of years or so to the surface of the railway sleepers to help longevity and freshen them up. Choices...choices!
6) Fill with soil
Before you fill with bags of compost, top soil or manure, it might be worth considering putting stone / bricks / hardcore etc.. on the bottom to encourage drainage. (Many people construct raised beds as a useful way of getting rid of / hiding unwanted bits of rubble etc..!) The great thing about using raised beds is that you can fill them with whatever type of soil that best fits your planting. e.g. lime hating rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and heathers require a more acidic soil. Raised beds are more likely to lose soil nutrients sooner than ordinary beds, so ideally, a mix of 50 per cent mix of garden soil and 50 per cent peat or substitute compost with extra fertilizer should give you good results for your raised railway sleeper beds. You may need to top up your railway sleeper raised bed with soil or compost again in 12 months.
To encourage moisture retention in the raised bed, you can apply a top surface of your choice such as wood chip, bark or pebbles. The soil in the raised bed can take time to settle and may need topping up. This could take a few years in the highest of raised beds so some people decide to just plant annuals or vegetables to start with and leave permanent plants for a later time.
7) Fill with plants!
That's the best bit!
Height & width of a raised bed
Width: Of course you can construct a railway sleeper raised bed in any size, length or height you fancy. However if you want a raised bed which you can comfortably access from both sides without standing on the soil, you need it to be a maximum of about 1.2m wide. At this 1.2m width you should be able to easily reach all areas of the raised bed. If you can only access the raised bed from one side, the maximum width is going to be about 0.6m.
Height: The height of a railway sleeper raised bed will be determined by what’s best for you and how you want to use it. Think about whether you want to do your gardening standing up, in a wheelchair, sitting down or kneeling, and whether you’d like to be able to use the edge of the raised bed as a seat.
Advantages of raised beds
Raised vegetable gardens are the way to go! Two long term New Zealand residents converted to raised garden beds about five years ago and will never go back to digging in the ground. ''It's been so successful, it's definitely the way to go. Things grow so much faster, it's quite amazing, really,'' Mrs Walshaw says. ''I was picking lettuces in winter - I couldn't believe it. No questions about it, it's far superior.''
With the soil level about half a metre off the ground, the raised beds mean gardening is also physically easier for the retired couple. Anything can be grown in raised beds, which require quality soil in only the top 40cm or so. The base can be clay or any other low nutrient dirt, Mr Walshaw says. ''You just need enough rich soil to turn over. It's not a digging garden, it's a turning garden.'' Raised beds are drier and good irrigation is essential, he says.
Mr Walshaw constructed the 3.5m by 1.5m beds himself. The change from toiling in damp, hard clay-based soil has revolutionised the Walshaw's enthusiasm for vegetable gardening.
Mr and Mrs Walshaw plant early rocket potatoes in September and usually start eating them in mid-November. This year, pink fir apple is also being planted, which is like a yam or Maori potato. Cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli are grown in the raised beds, which also accommodate little cutie pumpkins. ''They just hang over the side. They're perfect for two people, so sweet and tasty.'' Broad beans, carrots, courgettes, celery, silverbeet, parsnips, spring onions and rhubarb grow in the raised beds.
''There's nothing nicer than going out and getting fresh vegetables from your garden, which taste totally different to the ones in the supermarket.'' "Raised-bed gardening is easy and produces better crops."
More advantages of raised beds from railway sleepers:
Landscape plants need to grow in well-drained situations. A great tool to achieve this is planting in raised beds. Whether we are planting shrubs, bedding plants, perennials, vegetables or ground covers, the beds we prepare for them should be about 6 inches to 12 inches higher than the surrounding soil.
Raised beds drain faster and dry out more quickly than ground-level beds. Some gardeners complain that during dry periods raised beds from railway sleepers may need to be watered more often – and this may be true. However, you can irrigate your raised beds and make sure plants have adequate water.
We must not forget to consider drainage when designing raised beds and choosing plants. Drainage issues need to be addressed during bed installation. We can’t do much to improve drainage once the planting is done. Raised beds are generally the best way to ensure good drainage. If you have a low area that tends to stay wet and you don’t want to put in a raised bed, you can certainly landscape the area with plants that enjoy wet soils. It is often better to choose plants adapted to the drainage in an area rather than to try and radically change it.
Raised bed projects
PLEASE have a look at some of the 100's of RAISED BED projects, on our railway sleepers projects page. It is a fantastic resource that will fill your head with wonderful dreams and ideas about making raised beds out of railway sleepers! If you can't find what you are looking for, or need advice, then give us a ring.
WHAT ARE RAILWAY SLEEPER KITS MADE OF?
New British eco friendly softwood railway sleepers. Generally square cut and straight with occasional waney edges.
Colour: Light natural golden pine colour, that bleaches silver grey in the sun after 6 months or so as they season and dry out. This natural cycle of seasoning can take 4 - 12 months, depending on the amount of sunlight & the location of the railway sleepers. If you fancy a bolder darker colour, there is always the easy option of staining with a multitude of colours that can be applied by brush, and are available in most DIY shops. New pine railway sleepers are green treated, which can give them a slight tinge of green initially, but eventually fades to a light natural pine colour.
Weight: Our raised bed kits are made from the lightest of all our railway sleepers. Approx 35 kilos for a 2.4m x 200mm x 100mm length. They are definitely the easiest of all railway sleepers for carrying into position (e.g. into the back of your garden). So saying, you'll still need to enlist or bribe two willing people if you want to avoid back ache!
Treatment: These raised bed kits are pressure treated with an environmentally friendly treatment, that is suitable for gardens, children, schools, public areas etc... More treatment details on 'extra information page' above.
Description: Generally straight and square edged, and thus easy to construct with, whether you stack them on top of each other, or butt them up against each other. These new pine raised bed kits are easy to carry, cut and drill. Dead easy for even the most apprehensive of landscapers. Using new railway sleepers is like putting together big bits of lego! They are described as being 'green' timber because they have been freshly cut in the last 6 months, and are still seasoning. As with any new timber, they may naturally have splits, knots, blemishes or waney edges. They are stored outside so naturally they may be wet if it's rained recently. Each kit contains sufficient screws to fasten the raised bed together, which helps to restrict them moving or bowing as they season and fully dry out.
Attaching / Fixing: Timberlok sleeper screws will fasten easily through these railway sleeper raised bed kits without a pilot hole, using most strong drills. These make constructing with these pretty fast and straight forward.
Sizes: New raised bed kits are normally fairly accurate in size, unlike their used equivalent, which tend to vary in length, depth or width by sometimes many centimetres or inches. Their sizes can vary slightly maybe +/- 10mm.
Raised bed kits from new pine railway sleepers are very popular. They are much used by those wanting clean and simple lines, or a crisp, neat, landscaping look, with the option of staining. Often they are chosen by those wanting child and environmentally friendly railway sleepers, as well as those wanting something simple to stack and construct with, and dead easy to carry. They can look very dramatic and architectural.
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WHAT DELIVERY OPTIONS DO I HAVE?
You have two options, depending on which delivery option you choose at the checkout stage online, or when you telephone the office.
1) STANDARD DELIVERY - CUSTOMER TO OFFLOAD RAILWAY SLEEPERS
This is normally a quicker & cheaper means of delivery that generally covers 100% of the UK, providing you have a forklift or sufficient strong people to offload your railway sleepers.
* DELIVERY TIMESCALE: You can choose any delivery day you want in advance within 2- 4 working days, Monday - Friday. Delivery will be between 9am & 5pm. You can choose, for a surcharge, a Saturday delivery.
* YOU are responsible for offloading the railway sleepers from the vehicle. The vehicle does NOT have a crane offload. If you do not have a forklift, you MUST have at least 2 or more strong people to manually offload. These timbers are too heavy for one person. The driver is NOT able to help you offload or carry materials into your house or garden. One exception! If the railway sleepers are 1.2m or less in length, the lorry driver CAN place the railway sleepers onto the pavement or road using the lorry tail lift and hand pallet truck.
* ACCESS: You must ensure that there is sufficient space for the lorry to access your road and property, and that there is sufficient area for you to safely offload. The vehicle is normally a rigid lorry which is about 10 metres long and about 2.6m wide (Imagine a full size bin lorry) It is crucial to tell us, when we contact you to arrange delivery, whether there are any delivery problems - e.g. a narrow road, cul de sac, cars parked in front of the property etc... An unsuccessful delivery will incur a further charge, often equal to the original haulage cost.
2) PREMIUM DELIVERY - THE RAILWAY SLEEPERS WILL BE OFFLOADED FOR YOU
This delivery charge is normally more expensive than the Standard delivery, but is essential if you order some heavy railway sleepers, and you haven't got a forklift, or sufficient strong people to help you offload. Having your railway sleepers placed on your drive is a perfect way of protecting your back and keeping your friends happy!
* DELIVERY TIMESCALE is generally within 1- 2 weeks, Monday - Friday, and between 8am & 6pm. Unfortunately you can't normally choose your own delivery day in advance, as the haulier will need to efficiently piece together a set of deliveries, according to which part of the UK they are driving to. Please let us know in advance if there are any delivery days you can't make. We will normally confirm the exact date a few days before.
* ACCESS: You must ensure that there is sufficient space for the lorry to access your road and property, and that there is enough area for the lorry to be safely offloaded. The vehicle is normally a rigid lorry which is about 10 metres long and about 2.6m wide (Imagine a full size bin lorry) It is crucial to tell us, when we contact you to arrange delivery, whether there are any access problems - e.g. a narrow road, cul de sac, cars parked in front of the property etc... An unsuccessful delivery will incur a further charge, often equal to the original haulage cost.
IS THERE A MINIMUM ORDER OF RAILWAY SLEEPERS?
No. It makes no difference. The cost to you is the same whether we deliver 1 railway sleeper or 10 railway sleepers... e.g. if the delivery cost to somewhere in the UK for 20 railway sleepers was for example £99 + Vat, then the delivery for 1 railway sleeper would cost the same. That's because our hauliers charge us according to how much lorry space the order takes up, so whether there is 1 railway sleeper on a pallet, or 20 railway sleepers on it, it makes no difference!
HOW DO WE WORK OUT THE DELIVERY COST?
The delivery charge depends on what type of railway sleeper you choose and where you live. If you go online and place the number of railway sleepers you are interested in into the shopping basket, and input your postcode, the website will calculate the delivery cost according to the number and length of the railway sleepers. If you play around with different lengths of railway sleepers, you will discover that 1.2m ones are the cheapest to have delivered, followed then by any sleeper up to 2.4m in length, and then finally the longer 2.6m, 3m and 3.6m ones. It's all about what space the railway sleepers take up on a lorry, and what the haulage companies then charge us. Lots of different variables! If you order online, the delivery cost will be worked out automatically by a computer brain. If you order by telephone, the delivery cost will be calculated by a mere human being, who will chat with you whilst working it all out!
EXTRA TREATMENT INFORMATION
TANALITH PRESSURE TREATMENT-THE FACTS
Our new eco friendly treated softwood railway sleepers have been treated with Tanalith, a much more environmentally friendly, 'greener' alternative to creosote, and is suitable for all kinds of landscaping. It is a water based preservative treatment that helps protect against decay and fungal and insect attack.
~ The railway sleepers are treated using vacuum & pressure impregnation.
~ When impregnated into the railway sleepers the chemical components become fixed within the wood structure and are leach resistant.
~ Suitable for use even in the most extreme environments such as marine applications.
~ Usually specified for general construction and ground contact timbers
~ Can be used in residential, commercial and industrial applications
~ Easily painted or stained
It is so far the most environmentally friendly form of pressure treatment available and has replaced the original CCA treatment. It does not contain arsenic or chromium and have a very low potential for human toxicity. An eco treatment will not leak out in the summer, and is particularly suitable for schools, play areas, children, animals, growing food and indoors, where creosote is unsuitable.
For more technical information please have a look at the Tanalith website or contact the technical guys at Tanalith.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
Believe it or not, the treatment companies (and hence us!) offer no guarantee as to the treatment and the longevity of the railway sleepers. They argue that because:
a) timber is used and constructed in so many different applications and settings (above ground, under ground, in water etc...), and because
b) timber naturally splits and moves after treatment, which can expose untreated wood... and because
c) customers cut and drill into the treatment on the timber, leaving bare wood...
- they cannot guarantee or predict how long the railway sleepers will last and how long the treatment will be effective.
SITTING ON THE FENCE
In reality, like many companies, they are frightened about people making claims against them, and so they chose to offer no guarantee, rather than risk someone wanting the whole of their railway sleepers to be replaced after 10 years, if it starts to rot.
Recently we were told of an old traditional timber company that had once rashly offered a lifetime guarantee on their oak fencing. About a year ago an 80 year old lady came into their office brandishing a yellow discoloured receipt from 1959, and stating that several of her fence posts were now rotten! All credit to them, they went out and replaced them!
And the moral is... be careful what you promise!
Although we all know that pressure treated railway sleepers will last considerably longer than 2 days (!) we are unable to say or guarantee how long it will last. Sorry. It's all very unsatisfactory, but it's the way of the world !