Railway Sleepers - What Can You Use Them For?
By Andy Cocker

Railway Sleepers offer a hardwearing, economical and aesthetically pleasing option when selecting materials for various projects.

They have been used for hundreds of years for railway lines to fasten to. Nowadays, although they are still widely used on the railway track, they are gaining popularity with landscapers, builders and furniture makers.

Structurally, they are solid, long-lasting and full of character. Many years of use can be expected from Railway Sleepers - whether outside in the garden or inside as furniture or above your fireplace or windows.

Railway Sleepers are made of hardwoods such as oak, jarra, Beech, karri and azobe, or softwoods such as pine. You can either purchase new or reclaimed Railway Sleepers and ones that have been treated or untreated.

There are many simple and effective ways in which you can use Railway Sleepers.

They can be used to make raised borders and vegetable beds. Easy to construct; they don't require specialist skills. Additionally, they are very long lasting and allow you to create a planting area on top of any surface, without days of skip filling. You can even use the edges for a comfortable seating area.

Retaining walls can be constructed from Railway Sleepers. The Eden Project in Cornwall successfully uses Railway Sleepers for delineating their walkways from the upper car parks, down to the main greenhouses below.

You
can also use Railway Sleepers to construct attractive steps. They can be built into hillsides in intricate formations to create a unique and useful feature.

Deckings and patios are another well known use for Railway Sleepers. They make hardwearing and rustic structures - pleasing and non-obtrusive. Garden features such as these can even appear more attractive in the rain, as the grain in the sleepers shows through.

Do you want to create a pond? Railway Sleepers can be used to create a beautiful edging. The wood blends in with the surroundings, becoming perfectly integrated as the pond grows and is slowly overtaken by nature. A few water boatmen, whirligig beetles, great diving beetles and dragonflies and it could almost pass as one of nature's own.

Are you looking for a durable, attractive structure for a playground? Or for a tree house? Railway Sleepers mean no garish colours, cheap plastic or rusting metals - just a fun, unobtrusive place to keep the children - and the adults - happy.

Artists and sculptors have long extolled the aesthetic virtues of Railway Sleepers. The wood of is of excellent quality - both hard and soft - making it ideal for sculpting into bowls, busts, spoons and ornaments. Its statuesque presence lends it very well to full length sculptures.

Clearly, Railway Sleepers have a great many uses. They are hardwearing, adaptable, natural, solid and great for both indoor and outdoor use. So, go ahead - look into it! You will be happy you did.