Top Tips Planning Your Retaining Wall Using Railroad Ties

In my earlier article I was telling the story of how we stopped our garden sliding down the driveway. If that has inspired you get a project going in your own garden, here are some things to consider when planning your retaining wall made from railway ties…

  1. Permission or building permits needed for the work. Depending on where you live you may need to apply for a building permit before starting work or ordering any materials. Rules change from state to state so just because a friend didn’t across the country didn’t need one, doesn’t mean you won’t.  Do not skip this step.
  2. Recycled or New. Apart from the cost factor, you will need to decide if you want to use recycled materials or opt for new. Old ties normally have creosote and tar in them which can be toxic so do your research as to whether this is acceptable to you. This site will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. If the risk is too great for you, landscaping ties can be purchased which are non toxic. They just don’t look as good in my opinion.
  3. Use of the garden beds. Another thing to consider is the use of the beds when weighing up the new or old decision. If you want to use your new garden space for growing vegetables, fruits and herbs, recycled ties may not be the best choice, due to possible leaching of the chemical mentioned above.
  4. Decide if you want to do the work yourself or bring in the professionals. As I mentioned, we did the work ourselves but it can be hard work and can take a while to complete. If you have the budget I would definitely get contractors in to get the job done quickly.
  5. Drainage. Railroad ties and sleepers may have lasted a lot of years up until now but they are usually sitting on gravel when in use on the railroad. If your area has a lot of water or rain then you should be sure there is good drainage so your ties don’t rot.

Retaining walls are a great way to deal with a sloping garden that is threatening to wash  away with the next downpour. They can look attractive as well as being functional and should last for many years to come. Good luck with yours.

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