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 Plus FREE 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 raised bed kits above 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. In fact there are three different finishing sizes that you could come up with, using the same pieces:
a) 2.4m x 1.45m
b) 2.525m x 1.325m
c) 2.65m x 1.20m
Whatever size you go for, all the fixings you need are there, and 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 lego or wooden building blocks. Very quick & simple, with very little tools needed.
1) Chose 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. There are advantages of using something that will enable drainage of the raised bed, otherwise you are unintentionally 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. Two screws per corner is a good solid formula.
4) Stack and fix a second layer (For raised bed kits with 2 layers).
Simply repeat stage 3 & 4, apart from you are placing the second layer of railway sleepers on to 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 layers together with the 4 longer screws that go through the top layer to the layer below. If you don't want this to be seen, screw at 45 degrees on the inside of the raised bed, through 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 structure that is interlocked, and could be picked up in one piece by a crane if you had the inclination!
5) OPTIONAL. Attaching a plastic membrane (see photo)
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 wood 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.
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 improve keeping moisture in the 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 plump for just planting 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, sitting down, or kneeling, and whether you’d like to be able to sit on the edge of the raised bed.
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 beds and choosing plants. Drainage issues need to be addressed during bed instillation. 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: The lightest of of all railway sleepers to lift. Approx 100lb (45 kilos) for a 2.4m x 250mm x 125mm 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, 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. 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 not kiln dried, air dried or seasoned. As with any timber, they may naturally have splits, knots, blemishes or waney edges. They are stored outside so they can still be wet. If they are not firmly screwed to each other or other timber they may start to move or bow as they season and fully dry out.
Attaching / Fixing: Timberlok sleeper screws will fasten easily through these 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 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.
Extra delivery information:
WHAT DELIVERY CHOICES DO I HAVE FOR THESE RAILWAY SLEEPER RAISED BED KITS ?
You have two options, depending on which delivery option you chose at the checkout stage online, or when you telephone the office.
1) THE CHEAPEST OPTION - STANDARD DELIVERY - CUSTOMER TO OFFLOAD RAILWAY SLEEPER RAISED BEDS
This is the cheapest, most popular & efficient means of delivery that covers 100% of the UK.
* YOU can chose any delivery day you want in advance within 2- 4 working days, Mon - Fri, between 9am & 5pm.
* YOU can chose, for a surcharge, a next day delivery or a saturday delivery.
* YOU are responsible for offloading the railway sleeper raised bed kits 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 manally 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 sleeper raised bed kits 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.
The vehicle is normally a non-artic rigid lorry (carrying approx 10 - 15 tons)
2) THE MORE EXPENSIVE OPTION - PREMIUM DELIVERY - LORRY OFFLOADS RAILWAY SLEEPER RAISED BED KITS WITH CRANE OR FORKLIFT
This delivery charge is usually more expensive than the Pallet system, but is essential if you order some heavy railway sleeper raised bed kits, without any forklift, or sufficient people to help you offload.
* Your railway sleeper raised bed kits can be offloaded so long as there is sufficient space for the crane or forklift to operate without lifting over vehicles etc...
You must ensure in advance that a lorry has clear access to your property. 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 unsuccesful delivery will incur a further charge, often equal to the original.
IS THERE A MINIMUM ORDER ?
No. It makes no difference. The cost to you is the same whether we deliver 1 raiised bed kit or 8 raised bed kits... e.g. if the delivery cost to somewhere in the UK for 8 raised bed kits was for example £99 + Vat, then the delivery for 1 raised bed kit would cost the same. That's because our hauliers charge us according to how many pallets the order takes up, so whether there is 1 raised bed on a pallet, or 20 raised bed kits on it, it makes no cost difference!
HOW DO WE WORK OUT THE DELIVERY COST ?
The delivery charge depends on what type of railway sleeper you chose and where you live. If you go online and place the number of railway sleepers you are interested in into the shopping basket, and imput 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!
'GREEN' PRESSURE TREATMENT - THE FACTS
We now offer new softwood raised bed kits that have been treated with a much more environmentally friendly, 'greener' alternative to creosote, which is suitable for all kinds of landscaping. It is a water based preservative treatment that protects 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 envirinments 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
The 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.
OUR RAISED BED KITS are pressure treated with a non-creosote, environmentally friendly treatment called Wolmanit CX-10, that is suitable for gardens, schools, public areas etc...
Technical blurb from the Wolmanit comapany and the treatment guys:
Wolmanit CX-10 is a wood preservative suitable for industrial use against wood destroying fungi and insects on internal and external structural timber with and without ground and water contact, in particular for timber used in horticulture and landscape gardening, playground equipment, posts, vine support, fences, palisades and wood paving.
Wolmanit CX-10 is a chrome and arsenic-free wood preservative based on copper and boron compounds, suitable for hazard classes 1-4 according to EN 351-1:1996
The main advantage of Wolman CX is its higher penetration and stability of the ratio of Copper to actives for a long lasting protection and confidence in the field. Wolman CX is a leading chemical in Europe and in particular in Sweden, where timber treaters are independently audited every year with the results presented openly to the market. Recent results show Wolman CX as the only chemical without any failures, and at the same time possessing the highest number of samples tested.
Some solutions have a weaker chemical in the UK than in Sweden, whereas Wolman CX is the same in both countries. Wolman CX is proven and unchanged since the early 1990's, achieving the best independent penetration data year on year in Europe. The CX solution will provide a long lasting defence against fungi and insects and stability in preservative and colour. CX is a strong, stable and unique formulation that has been designed to defend against the very common brown rot fungi in the UK.
There you have it ! That's what our new raised bed kits are treated with! For more information please have a look at the Wolman website (http://www.wolman.de/en/) or contact the technical guys at Wolman.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
Believe it or not, the treatment companies (and hence us!) offer no guarantee as to the treatment and the longetivity 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, and because
c) customers cut and drill into the treatment on the timber
that 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 !
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE!