Garden sleepers – treated softwood, reclaimed or oak?

Garden sleepers are large sections of timber. They are sometimes referred to as “railway sleepers” due to their historic use to support tracks across our railway networks.
Timber sleepers have many common uses in the garden and are often used for landscaping. There are a number of different types and sizes to choose from.
In this article we give you an overview of the different options available so that you can choose the type that is right for your project.

What are the different types of sleeper?

• Treated softwood Sleepers

New Treated Sleepers 200x125
New Treated Sleepers 200×125

These are our most popular type of sleeper and are offered in a range of sizes. They are pressure treated for longer life and to help resist rot. They have a uniform square edge which makes them good for fitting together. It is also worth considering the smaller they are, the easier they are to handle. View our range here>>

• “A” Grade Reclaimed Sleepers

Reclaimed A Grade Sleepers
Reclaimed A Grade Sleepers

These are reclaimed creosote treated sleepers from beneath the tracks of assorted European countries. Grade “A” are essentially sound quality, they are very substantial and are cut from solid oak or beech. They are not always a uniform size.  View our product page here>>

• Oak Sleepers

New Oak Sleeper 200x100
New Oak Sleeper 200×100

These new untreated hardwood sleepers are both attractive and incredibly sturdy. Our oak sleepers are slightly smaller than a reclaimed sleeper. They are primarily straight edged and naturally long lasting.  These sleepers are solid oak so they are heavy to handle. View our product page here>> 

Do I need to apply treatments?

No there is no need. Our softwood sleepers have been pressure treated and there is no need to treat oak.  However some people choose for cosmetic purpose for example, if you wish to maintain a consistent colour to apply a treatment.  Most wooden sleepers will naturally fade to a grey colour because of long-term exposure to the suns UV rays, which ages the wood.  If you cut the timber to size, we recommend treating the cut end with a timber preserver.  View product information here>>

How can I use sleepers in my garden?

There are many common uses for sleepers including:

New sleepers (Oak or Treated Softwood)
• To define borders and patio edges
• Create raised beds and planters
• Seating
• As the perimeter for ponds and garden features.
• Play pits and sand pits
• Creating steps

Reclaimed sleepers
They are ideal for making retaining walls to hold back soil. Because they are treated with creosote, which can under certain circumstances leech out of the timber, they should not be used where they are likely to be in direct contact with people.
Uses include:
• shed base
• steps
• retaining wall
Not suitable for vegetable beds or for seating.

A cutting service is available on the treated softwood and oak sleepers.  For further friendly advice or for a free quotation please contact the team at the timber yard on 01386 840373 or email