How to Lay Sleepers for Garden Edging: A Step by Step Guide

There are many options for garden edging, and using sleepers is just one way. There are a variety of sleepers to choose from, but wood and concrete sleepers would perfectly fit your garden space. They are known to add a touch of versatility, ruggedness and traditional rustic look for a naturally beautiful garden edge.

You can artistically lay them either on the edge, or even flat to form a single height. The only question is how? Do you know how to lay sleepers for garden edging? No matter the type of sleepers you choose to use, there are no rules regarding the extent to which you can use your creativity.

To help solve the puzzle, this article outlines six easy steps on how to lay sleepers for garden edging, using softwood garden sleepers. You are probably wondering why softwood? This is because they require minimum effort and wood skills to lay and fit.

Requirements:

You will need the following:

  • Screws or nails for fixing the sleepers together
  • Concrete or sand and gravel for the base
  • Plastic membrane for soil proofing the sleepers
  • Wood paint for protective layering
  • Hammer for knocking the nails or screwdrivers for the screws
  • Normal paint or coal for marking the ground
  • Shovel for digging shallow trenches
  • Hand saw for trimming and shaping
  • Gloves for safety
  • A drill for pre-drilling the wood

Step by Step

You can design the perfect edging for your garden by following these easy steps;

1. Come up with the ideal plan

Just like any other project, you need a proper plan for this project. The most important step is to visualize how your garden space looks like to know how and where you are going to place the sleepers, flat or on the edge.

This will make it easier in knowing the correct number, shape and sizes of sleepers that you need to have for the whole process.

2. Prepare the Ground

The next step is to clearly mark and outline the specific areas where you will be laying the sleepers. You can use normal paint or coal, depending on what you can easily find effortlessly. After marking out the areas, you have to clear the area off any unwanted objects like debris, then digging up shallow trenches. 

In preparing the ground, you can choose to use concrete, sand, and gravel or just normal soil at the bottom of the trench as the base for the first layer of sleepers. This solemnly depends on how long you want the edge to last. Therefore, for a long term artistic edge, I recommend you to opt for a foundation made of semi-dry concrete.

However, using a concrete base requires extra skills and time. This option can also interfere with the proper drainage in the garden, causing risks of flooding.

3. Lay the sleepers on the surface

After preparing your foundation, lower in the first layer of sleepers on the base in a position of your choice. Whichever position you use, the sleepers should be parallel to the landscape of your garden so that all the edges meet at a perfect angle for easy fixing.

Ensure that this layer is firmly secured into the ground, when not using sand and gravel, or natural soil. Thereafter, you can add more sleepers to the height you planned. When working on a taller wall or a raised garden, uniformly assemble the rest of the layers carefully for a stable edge at the end.  This will also make them easier to fasten in the next step

Shape and size matters for a perfect fit, so be careful to match the edges of the sleepers per layer. You can also create a customized unique look by trimming and shaping them to your ideal shapes and sizes. You can comfortably do this using a saw hence bringing out your creative self.

4. Fix them together

Using screws or nails, fasten the sleepers vertically or horizontally, depending on how you laid them for a stronger long-lasting edge.  When handling multiple layers or thicker sleepers, use long screws like TimberLok screws. Thisensures a successful penetration all through to the next layer, pulling the sleeper tighter onto the next one.

The simplest way to hack this step is pre-drilling the sleepers to avoid creating splits in the wood when fastening the screws. It also makes it easier for your screws to pass through, effortlessly.

You can alternatively use nails as I earlier mentioned. However, when using nails, you have to be sure to hammer them from an angle because they are not as stronger. You need to know that this can be quite overwhelming to figure out, mostly at the ends where the edges meet.

5. Insert a plastic membrane

This is a step which is optional but can be very helpful in learning how to lay sleepers, especially when you only used one layer of wood. Fixing a plastic sheet from the inside of the wall makes it impossible to get in contact with the soil. This ensures that the soil is retained behind the wall, proofing the sleepers from any future rotting. In the end, you will have a more durable edge, no matter the weather.

6. Finish off

To avoid accidents, trim off overlapping or unwanted ends and sharp edges for a complete even look. Whether you are using new or recycled sleepers, you might consider coating your edge with a protective layer for a strong durable finish and protection against harsh elements.

This will help increase their lifespan so that they can be used over and over again. However, there are no rules here, so you can still coat them in your own creative and colorful way, for an impressive garden edge.

Conclusion

To clearly separate your garden from other areas in a beautiful and amazing way, it is important to go all creative on this project and this is why you need to know how to lay sleepers for garden edging. This is something you can do in your own free time alongside friends or family. Always remember to be extra careful to avoid accidents in the process.

Please, note that you must periodically check on your garden edge so as to notice damages and make timely amends. I hope this helps you in your landscaping projects. Let’s all have fun trying these easy steps