A railroad tie, crosstie, or sleeper is a beautiful, versatile item to use in landscaping, with multitudes of uses that are limited only by one’s imagination. Railroad ties are highly affordable building and landscaping products. Used ones are priced and sold having between one and four “good” sides. They can be obtained in less than nine-foot lengths at a per-piece rate and nine-to-seventeen foot lengths by the foot, all at very reasonable rates from railroad materials salvage companies.
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.
One of the most typical, and perfect, uses in landscaping for railroad ties is the retaining wall. Ties are sturdy and big, and they certainly aren’t going to go anywhere once they’ve been put into place. They can hold however much dirt needs to be held back. The railroad ties can be arranged in a multitude of configurations, including one tie used horizontally as a very low retaining wall; multiple ties used on top of each other in alternating layers; and ties placed on their ends vertically so as to look like yard dividers or fences of various heights, similar heights, or alternating heights and placed apart, together, straight, angled, or curved in circles. Another common, perfect use for railroad ties is raised vegetable or flower beds. Ties can be used on top of any surface, offset and stacked on top of each other for very deep walls, cut in quite short lengths to allow the wall to “curve” along a winding path, or climb increasingly higher up a terraced or hilly incline.
Railroad ties make some of the easiest and most beautiful stairs that can ever be made: stairs that go up to a deck; up a hillside, even a winding one; up to a house’s front door, with wrought-iron handrails; and stairs that are bordered by railroad tie raised flower beds, fences, or retaining walls. Ties look beautiful as patio and deck edging and also as patios and decks, in all sorts of patterns, even circular. They also look great as stepping stones, used individually with spaces in between them, or grouped in complicated patterns, even 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.