Garden sleepers are often referred to as railway sleepers because they were traditionally used to lay rail tracks on to. Today, these large rectangular beams of timber are a popular choice for many landscaping and gardening projects and can be integrated to create raised flower beds, lawn edges and borders, steps, pathways and even retaining walls.
The main difference between hardwood and softwood sleepers is the type of timber that is used to make them.
Softwood garden sleepers are usually sawn from faster growing trees that are often less dense. Softwood often comes from pine, spruce or larch trees and is usually pressure treated to offer protection against damp and rot. Unlike the name suggests, softwood is not soft but it is generally lighter and easier to manoeuvre and handle.
Hardwood sleepers are produced from slow growing, naturally dense and heavy trees such as oak. Oak offers excellent natural strength and resistance to the elements without the requirement for treatment. Hardwood can be a challenge to handle, it is rather heavy compared to softwood and will usually require an extra pair of hands to get hardwood sleepers into place.
As previously mentioned, softwood sleepers are usually already pressure treated so will not require treating with a preservative unless you have cut them to a different size. Open ends will need treating in order to give them the protection they need from the elements.
Hardwood oak sleepers require no preservative treatment because they are naturally dense and offer excellent durability in all weather conditions. However, oak sleepers will benefit from a coat of linseed or Danish oil which will help to preserve their aesthetic.
Most garden sleepers will last for many years. Treated softwood sleepers will last between 8 and 10 years and if treated with a UC4 (class 4) treatment, the longevity can be extended up to 15 years. The UC4 treatment also makes timber suitable to be in contact with the ground. Oak sleepers will often last for up to 20 years.
Garden sleepers can be used for many different projects and in various different ways. They are most popularly used to create raised flower or vegetable beds, for lawn edges or retaining walls. People are finding more and more uses for these versatile pieces of timber and are using them to create everything from garden furniture, decks, garden ponds and even swimming pools.
Absolutely you can cut sleepers. To ensure the best cut, it’s important to use a circular saw or a chainsaw and make small, straight cuts. It’s fairly straightforward and will enable you to make sleepers fit together neatly to make flower beds etc. It’s worth noting that if you cut softwood sleepers, this will expose the untreated centre and we would highly recommend you coat the ends with a wood preservative to protect it from the elements.
The best way to fix sleepers together is to use sleeper screws, we stock a range of suitable In-dex fixings, and brackets. You should be aware that it is really important to secure them as tightly as possible because sleepers can shrink over time and this will help to prevent any drastic movement.
We offer both oak, hardwood sleepers and treated softwood (redwood/whitewood) sleepers here at KPT Timber. This choice gives our customers the opportunity to select the most relevant type of timber sleepers to suit their own requirements and to match the project they have in mind.
Each of these types of garden sleepers have their own benefits and are equally suitable for a wide range of tasks and projects in your garden. We hope that the information we have provided will help you to make an informed decision before you make a purchase. However, if there is anything else that you would like to know that we haven’t answered here, our friendly team will be more than happy to answer your queries and questions so please do not hesitate to get in touch.