Sleepers are a great way of creating a defined space in your garden, making it a pleasant place to be.
Steps, flower bed edging, raised planters, and even benches are popular choices to partner garden sleepers and create a border to ensure the area remains pleasing to the eye.
As a dad, you’re always looking for ways to enhance your outdoor space and add a touch of class, and learning how to lay sleepers for garden edging is a great place to start.
We’ll take you through the step-by-step process of laying garden sleepers, providing our usual dad-like tips and advice.
Table of Contents
Tools You Will Need
- Garden sleepers (obviously)
- A good pair of gardening gloves
- Hand or Power Saw
- Spirit level
- Sleeper screws or metal plates and brackets
- Varnish (optional)
How To Lay Sleepers For Garden Edging
We will take you through the following steps on how to lay sleepers for garden edging; rest assured, at the end of it, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to elevate your lawn edging. Let’s get into it.
Step 1: Clearing the Area
It’s not as simple as laying garden sleepers on the floor and cracking open a cold one for a job well done.
A good start is to clear the area of any vegetation, debris, or objects, like a rusty child’s climbing frame or forgotten slide. Use a spade or shovel to remove any grass, plants, or rocks from the area you’ve chosen to use garden sleepers.
Creating a clean and level surface will ensure the best base possible for the operation of the garden sleeper project.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Type of Sleeper
There are two good options regarding garden edging sleepers.
Those are Hardwood sleepers or Softwood sleepers.
Hardwood sleepers, such as oak or teak, are recognised for their strength and can last up to 100 years with the proper care.
Softwood sleepers, conversely, are less expensive and lighter, making them more convenient to handle and install. Still, they do not have a 100-year lifespan.
You can be flexible in selecting the type of sleepers that best fit your budget, aesthetic choices, and overall project goals. Either will do a sterling job, regardless.
Step 3: Determining the Layout and Design
Before you start laying your sleepers, you should make a plan on the who, what, when, and why and visualise the layout of the garden edging you’re attempting to create. Going ‘as the crow flies’ usually gets shouted at.
Consider the shape and the required size of your flower beds or the area you want to define. This will help you determine how many sleepers you’ll need and the overall configuration of your edging.
Step 4: Creating a Shallow Trench
Right now comes manual labour. Start by digging a shallow trench to lay the garden sleepers in. This will help with stability and give you a solid surface to sit your sleepers on.
The trench should be slightly wider and deeper than the width and thickness of the sleepers. The depth of the trench will also depend on the height of your edging and the type of base you’ll be using.
Step 5: Leveling the Trench and Lay the Base
Once you’ve dug the trench, grab your spirit level and ensure the bottom is level.
Depending on your project, you may need to lay base material, such as sand, gravel, or hardcore, to stabilise the sleepers further. Level out the base material using a tamper or the back of a shovel.
Step 6: Placing the First Sleeper
Start by laying the first sleeper in the trench, ensuring it is level and aligned with your desired layout. Check that the sleeper sits level as you work but using the spirit level. If you need help lifting the sleeper in, ask for it.
Adjust the trench depth or add/remove base material to achieve a level surface. The first sleeper is the foundation for the rest of the edging, so you must get this one as spot-on as possible.
Step 7: Adding Subsequent Sleepers
Continue placing the remaining sleepers in the trench, aligning them with the first sleeper and checking their level as you go. Depending on your design, you may need to cut some sleepers to fit specific areas or create corners.
Use a hand saw or power saw to make these precise cuts. As you add each sleeper, check for levelness and adjust where needed.
Step 8: Securing the Sleepers
It’s essential to secure the sleepers together and not have them loose and at the mercy of the elements, pets or children. There are two recommended methods to do this:
- Steel Rod Pins or Landscaping Screws: Insert steel rod pins or screws through the overlapping ends of the sleepers to hold them together securely. This method is ideal for creating stacked or layered edging.
- Metal Corner Plates and Braces: Attach metal corner plates or braces to the corners of the sleepers to provide additional support and stability, essentially connecting them to one another. This method is suitable for both stacked and single-layer edging.
Step 9: Sanding and Treating the Sleepers
Finishing the wood is essential to ensure your sleepers withstand the first winter they spend outside. Sand off any rough edges or splinters so this doesn’t create a hazard for playing children.
Use sandpaper or an orbital sander to smooth the surface of the sleepers. Additionally, consider treating the sleepers with a wood preservative, stain, or exterior wood paint for protection and the finish.
Step 10: Regular Maintenance
To keep your garden sleepers in the best condition, you must maintain them regularly. Periodically reapply wood preservatives or stains to maintain the appearance and protect the wood from weathering.
There you have it; you’ve learned how to lay sleepers for garden edging. Excellent work and I bet they look great!
What Are Garden Sleepers?
The age-old question. Garden sleepers are long, rectangular pieces of wood used for landscaping and gardening activities.
They can be fashioned from various woods, including hardwood and softwood. Garden sleepers are adaptable and can be used to create raised beds, retaining walls, or beautiful edging in your garden.
Benefits of Learning How to Lay Sleepers for Garden Edging
Using garden sleepers for edging offers several advantages. Here are some key benefits:
- Garden sleepers can be utilised in various ways to create unique structures and designs in your garden.
- Treated garden sleepers are long-lasting and resistant to the weather, ensuring that your garden edging lasts for years and looks great.
- Installing garden sleepers is a reasonably simple task that can be completed by any DIY enthusiast.
- Garden sleepers give your outdoor space a rustic charm and natural beauty. (in our opinion!)
- Garden sleepers allow flexibility and modification, allowing you to construct distinctive edging that complements your garden style.
How To Lay Sleepers For Garden Edging FAQ’s
Can you lay sleepers directly on the soil?
You can do this, but preparing the ground adequately for the best results is crucial.
You must clear away any existing vegetation or grass in the chosen area. Once cleared, ensure the ground is levelled to provide a stable foundation for the sleepers.
This straightforward method offers a rustic and natural appearance, making it an excellent choice for DIY garden projects.
What do you put between sleepers and soil?
We suggest using gravel or sand as an excellent foundational material. Not only do they contribute to good drainage, they also enhance moisture control.
How long will sleepers last in the ground?
The longevity of sleepers in the ground largely depends on the type of wood and treatment.
When directly in contact with the ground, untreated softwood may last three to five years.
On the other hand, if you opt for treated softwoods and adhere to proper maintenance practices, they can endure for an impressive 20 to 30 years.
What is the best base for sleepers?
The best base for constructing sleepers depends on various factors.
Generally, a firm and level surface, such as soil, grass, decking, or concrete, is an excellent foundation.
Depending on the nature of your project, consider using sand or cement as additional elements to enhance the base, providing added support and durability to your project.
How deep do sleepers need to be?
When learning how to lay sleepers for garden edging, achieving the correct depth for your sleeper installation is essential for stability and long-term durability.
The recommended depth of the trench should ideally be a third of the depth of your most extended sleeper length, plus an additional 500mm.
This ensures proper support and secure placement of the sleepers, contributing to the overall structural integrity of your garden edging or raised bed project.
How To Lay Sleepers For Garden Edging
Thank you for reading our article on How To Lay Sleepers For Garden Edging. If this has been useful, please check out our blog HERE, for more DIY tips and advice, tailored for Dads maintaining their home.