Building a raised bed out of railway sleepers is really straightforward. Think of building with wooden building blocks. It’s very quick & simple, with very few tools needed.
Below are the basic steps:
Choose where you want to put the raised bed
This is very important as with plants and vegetables light is very important. You also want it to be easy to reach across the bed for planting and maintenance. The recommended width is 1.2 metres if you are able to reach it from all sides and 60cm if only from one side.
Lay the bed out 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). You can use the sleepers laid flat or on their sides to form a bed. If you use them on the flat you may need to go 2-3 high to give a substantial bed. It is best to lay the railway sleepers on a level and firm ground. It is easiest to simply lay them down directly on the earth with a layer of woven ground cover if you like.
Attaching them to each other
This can be done in two ways either by using very long screws or else you can use a steel L-bracket on the inside in each corner as a fixing. Simply screw them together at the corners.
If you want a second or third layer, you simply stack the railway sleepers on top of those already laid. You can use a batten or metal strip to fasten the layers together.
Laying a Woven Ground Cover and filling with soil.
If you like you can lay a woven ground cover between the base soil and the fresh topsoil you are going to add. Because this is an above ground bed you can fill it with specialised soil to suit the plants. The soil in the raised bed can take time to settle and may need topping up.
There are some ideal approximate heights for raised beds:
For standing – 80-90cm
For sitting – 40-45cm
For wheelchairs – 60-65cm
Now the nice bit – Plant it.
Raised beds are an ideal way to grow vegetables in your garden. All these vegetables fit into a 1.2m by 1.2m bed. They are easily accessible and far easier to maintain than planting into the ground. Have fun!