Wood sleepers used to create raised garden beds in pebble garden


Timber sleepers are becoming increasingly popular materials for DIY and general construction projects, thanks to their robust and durable build, and easy-to-work-with shape.


Their stripped-down appearance has an attractive finish, which can lend a classic look to a contemporary garden. The versatility of the timber sleeper makes them a great addition to any timber enthusiast's toolbox.


Check out these suggestions for some ways that timber sleepers can be used in your outdoor building projects.




Concrete garden patio edged with pale wood sleepers


Thanks to the durability of the sleeper, hardwood and softwood alike, they can be used to make a simple set of steps in a garden. Depending on the quality of the sleeper finish, these can become a focal point in your garden, or sunken steps to improve movement.


We’d recommend our Rustic Redwood Sleepers for steps. A sturdy, simple, and reliable material to work with, sleeper steps can be installed in unusual spaces.


Retaining walls


Stacked timber sleepers can be used in place of brick and concrete to create an attractive and functional retainer wall. Retaining walls made from sleepers give your garden depth, the addition of sleepers to the perimeter of a grassy lawn or around a stone patio adds layers of texture and creates a rich and inviting area for enjoying.


Simply stack the sleepers one on top of the other in landscape orientation to the required height of the wall. Timber sleepers are excellent for this type of assembly due to their sturdiness and weight-bearing properties.


Nails or landscaping screws can be used to add strength and make sure to leave gaps between sleepers for drainage. We’d recommend our Untreated Oak Sleepers for walls.




A classic use for the timber sleeper is creating planters and raised beds in the garden. Thanks to the heavy, oblong shape of the timber sleeper, quite complicated planters can be constructed to fit into even smaller gardens. We’d recommend our Treated Softwood Sleeper for planters. Construct in a similar manner to a retaining wall, taking care to consider the drainage.


Planters can be used to house everything from decorative flowers to vegetables. You can fill your planter with a variety of plant species or create a series of raised beds to keep your vegetables contained. Garden sleepers give you the freedom to transform your garden any way you want. This easy to use timber product is long-lasting and looks good in large and small gardens.


Treated Softwood Sleepers are available in both brown and green colours. Choosing the perfect colour sleeper for your garden is a personal choice, but consider the area of your garden that the planter will sit in and how the warmer brown tone, or cooler green tone, will suit your space.


Small raised beds


Want to add a smaller sized raised bed as a feature in your garden but don’t have the equipment at home to trim down a sleeper yourself?


Alsford has introduced Brown Softwood Treated Sleepers in a 1.2M length to accommodate smaller features in your outdoor space. These shorter length sleepers can be mixed and matched with the standard 2.4M length Brown Softwood Treated Sleepers to create long rectangular beds, or used on their own to create manicured square beds.

Bench areas and furniture


Timber sleepers are good to work with because they’re such a resilient material. See what’s available at the timber merchants, and consider how the material could be used in your garden.


Either work with the shape of the sleepers to build simple benches and tables, or try cutting them down to create more complex chairs designs. Even just removing the ends to make simple legs can build a bench for a modern garden.


Ensure that any piece of treated timber that you cut to size has its cut ends treated, this will ensure that no insects or rot and decay damage the wood from the newly exposed end pieces. Alsford has a selection of Wood Preservatives to keep your treated sleeper looking new for longer.




Strong and durable, timber sleepers can be used to add a simple border to lawns and pathways. Sleepers have a very contemporary look, and create a hard border which adds modern style to a garden.


Sleepers can be added to a garden to create a barrier between grassy areas and decorative beds or stone patios. Whether adding real grass or a grass substitute such as Namgrass, sleepers are an effective tool for hard borders, creating defined garden areas.


Thanks to their robust build, garden sleepers can stand plenty of ground sitting for a long-lasting border that looks great. Cut down the timber sleepers to match the shape of your planting, and try stacking to create small boundary walls.


Wooden timber ends, showing a stack of wood panels from the end


Treated vs untreated sleepers


Alsford has a selection of pressure treated softwood sleepers and untreated oak sleepers. Softwood sleepers are offered pressure treated to protect the wood from rot, insect infestation and fungal decay and keep your garden sleeper looking new for longer. Our Oak Hardwood Sleepers are available untreated, being able to naturally withstand most weather conditions, and ageing naturally over time. These sleepers can be stained in a colour of your choosing or maintained with an oil treatment to increase their lifespan.


Alsford has a selection of Wood Preservatives and Wood Stains to help you create your perfect garden. Choose a warm mahogany tone or a cool ebony to compliment and enhance either modern or traditional garden spaces. 


A versatile material 


Timber sleepers are understated materials that can be found at many builder’s merchants. Despite their unassuming simplicity, the timber sleeper can have a vast number of uses thanks to its incredible durability. Get creative with your outdoor space with timber sleepers from Alsford.


See what’s available at Alsford Timber to transform your garden space. In the meantime, if you have any questions about timber, get in touch with our experts and we’d be happy to help.