Railroad ties, otherwise known as crossties or sleepers, are beautiful, versatile things to use in landscaping, with uses only limited by one’s imagination. Railroad ties are also very affordable, as building products go. Used railroad ties are sold and priced with between one to four sides “good.” They are sold in under nine-foot lengths by the piece or between nine and seventeen foot lengths by the foot, all for very inexpensive rates from a railroad materials salvage business.
I would think that second-hand railroad ties have been in landscaping and gardening use ever since the original leftover railroad tie. The raw and natural beauty of them can improve any project. They can be applied as strictly decorative accents, as components of function, or as some combination of the both of them. They can be readily combined with other types of landscaping materials or kept separate in creating myriads of designs, textures, and patterns that, once again, are only limited by one’s imagination.
Possibly one of the most typical (and perfect) landscape uses for railroad ties is that of building retaining walls. Because they’re so big and sturdy, railroad ties aren’t likely to go anywhere once they’re in place. They’re capable of holding whatever amount of dirt is needed to be held. The ties can be arranged in any configuration: a single tie placed horizontally as a low retaining wall; multiple ties stacked in alternating layers; ties placed vertically on their ends to look like fences or yard dividers of varying heights, same heights, or alternating heights and placed together, straight, at angles, or in curved or circular lines. Another typical and perfect use for railroad ties is that of raised flower or vegetable beds. The ties can be placed on top of any surface, stacked or offset on top of each other for deep walls, cut in short lengths to form a curved barrier along a curved path, or go increasingly higher up a hill or terraced incline.
Railroad ties make really beautiful stairs of all kinds: stairs up to a front door (even with wrought-iron handrails; up a winding hill; up to a deck; and stairs bordered by railroad tie retaining walls, fences, or raised beds. Ties make gorgeous deck and patio edging and gorgeous decks and patios-in all kinds of patterns-even circular. Ties look great as stepping stones, either individually, with or without spaces in between them, or placed in complicated patterns (including circular).
There are multitudes of other landscaping uses for railroad ties: garden and park benches, bridges, handrails, tables with benches, hammock poles, raised tree planters, benches suspended between tree planters, pavilions, gazebos, trellises and arbors, pond edges that are ground-level or raised, soft-foam play-area edging, sandpit edging, outdoor swings, cabin foundations, tree houses, barns, sculptures, fireplace mantels, and household furniture. People have long been enjoying the wonders of railroad-tie landscaping. Maybe it’s your prime time to bring along your imagination and your ideas to swap at your local railroad materials suppliers.