Mar 282013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

When you’re working with sleepers, it’s important to use the right ones for the right job. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a retaining wall or a vegie bed or a fence, or laying garden edging or playground borders – the key to doing the job properly is knowing which sleepers are best for the work at hand. To do the job right and to make sure that health and safety standards are met, it pays to do your research before you jump in.

Luckily, we’ve done that bit for you. Read on for more info on the different kinds of sleepers we stock here are at BAAG, as well as explanations of which job each type is suitable for.

Sleepers for Retaining Walls

When you’re building a retaining wall, the most important thing is to make sure that you use sleepers thick enough to withstand the force of the earth pushing against them. Sleepers that are at least 75mm (3 inches) thick are the best to use. Anything thinner can be too weak, and can easily buckle or warp or break.

Hardwoods like our Mixed Australian Hardwood Sleepers and Reclaimed Cypress are great as they are extra-strong. Our Reclaimed Cypress – Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (syn. Cupressus macrocarpa) – is a North American native that has been planted widely across Australia (most commonly as wind breaks on farms) and are naturally resistant to termites and decay. They are also environmentally sustainable – on a lot of farms across Gippsland, the Cypress trees that were planted as windbreaks have now become oversized. Rather than simply log them and then dispose of the wood, many farmers are now passing the logged wood onto our supplier.

Please note: Our Reclaimed Cypress isn’t Cypress Pine (from the Callitris species). Cypress Pine is a softer wood that doesn’t possess the hardwood traits that our Reclaimed Cypress sleepers have.

Our A-Grade Recycled Sleepers are another great option – these recycled Red Gum sleepers originally came from a railway line in Northern NSW, and measure 2.45m x 225mm x 125mm (approx). Because they’re made of Red Gum, they still have plenty of life in them even though they’re old, and they look great. A-Grade Jarrah Sleepers are fantastic as well. They were originally used on railway lines, and each one measures 2.5m x 225mm x 125mm (approx). They have aged well and have plenty of character, have minimal cracking and are excellent for retaining walls.

Recycled Red Gum and Jarrah sleepers are great for retaining walls – the timber from Jarrah and Red Gum trees is extremely dense, is difficult to cut and is highly resistant to termites and decay. These beautiful hardwood sleepers are recycled railway sleepers that were removed from railway lines after spending their long lives embedded in the hot and bone-dry desert sand. This means that they’re in fantastic condition and have coloured beautifully thanks to the passage of time.

Unfortunately, the old railway sleepers are increasingly difficult to source. We get them when we can, but they will run out eventually, as the old wooden sleepers are slowly being replaced by concrete ones. We’re one of the few suppliers in Australia lucky enough to have these sleepers in stock!

Treated Pine is good if the retaining walls you’re building are only up to 1m tall. If you have to cut the Treated Pine during the build, make sure that you re-seal the cut area. And never use sleepers longer than 2.4m without extra uprights, as these extra uprights will prevent the sleepers from bowing.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Concrete sleepers, which come in fixed 2m lengths, are becoming a popular alternative to traditional timber sleepers. Their advantages are obvious: increased strength and durability, and a much better ability to withstand the elements. There is an increasingly wide variety of colours and textures becoming available to use so you no longer have to look at a plain concrete finish, but can instead choose something a little more interesting.

Sleepers for vegie beds

If you’re using sleepers to build vegie beds, you have to make sure that the sleepers you use haven’t been treated with chemicals, stains or preservatives that can leach into the soil and contaminate them, such as creosote, oil, arsenic and diesel.

Ecowood Pine Sleepers are great for this kind of job. Ecowood is the name given to a range of treated wood products that have all been protected with copper-based timber preservatives, and these products are a softwood. They are designed for long-term protection against termites and decay, and are fantastic for building vegie beds. As well, they are safe for constructions that involve close human contact or contact with domestic pets, livestock or wildlife. However, regardless of how safe a timber is, we recommend full protective equipment is worn when cutting timber. This includes dust mask and goggles. Any treated pine sleepers that are cut must be re-sealed – these sealers are available in a convenient spray can.

Reclaimed Cypress Sleepers are also excellent – because they haven’t been chemically treated, they’re safe to use when constructing vegie beds. They are also environmentally sustainable. Our Reclaimed Cypress – Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (syn. Cupressus macrocarpa) – is a North American native that has been planted widely across Australia (most commonly as wind breaks on farms) and are naturally resistant to termites and decay. They are also environmentally sustainable – on a lot of farms across Gippsland, the Cypress trees that were planted as windbreaks have now become oversized. Rather than simply log them and then dispose of the wood, many farmers are now passing the logged wood onto our supplier.

Please note: Our Reclaimed Cypress isn’t Cypress Pine (from the Callitris species). Cypress Pine is a softer wood that doesn’t possess the hardwood traits that our Reclaimed Cypress sleepers have.

Jarrah Sleepers are normally unsuitable to use when building vegie beds, as most of them are either old railway sleepers or have come from structures such as bridges and sheds, and so may have been treated with substances that can leach into the soil, such as creosote, oil, arsenic and diesel. However, when we can get them, we stock recycled sleepers that haven’t been treated. Please check this with the yard staff when ordering if you want to use them to build vegie beds.

Our A-Grade Recycled Sleepers are another fantastic product to use when building vegie beds. These recycled Red Gum sleepers originally came from a railway line in Northern NSW, and measure 2.45m x 225mm x 125mm (approx). Because they’re made of Red Gum, they still have plenty of life in them even though they’re old, and they look great. And because they’re an untreated natural hardwood, they’re excellent to use when building vegie beds and completely safe to use around children.

Our Mixed Australian Hardwood Sleepers are also excellent. These are a mix of Australian hardwoods harvested from forests in Southern NSW, mostly from Stringybark and Brown Barrel trees (Eucalyptus laevopinea and Eucalyptus fastigata). Like our A-Grade Recycled Sleepers, they are an untreated natural hardwood, which makes them perfect to use when building vegie beds and means that they are completely safe to use around children. As well, they are certified to the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) and are part of the Australian Forestry Certification Scheme (AFCS). This certification is recognised by the Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest management certifier, and verifies that these sleepers come from certified legal and sustainable resources.

Sleepers for kindergartens, playgrounds and garden edging

Just as you have to make sure that the sleepers you use when building vegie beds haven’t been treated with chemicals, stains or preservatives that can leach into the soil and contaminate the vegies, you have to make sure that the sleepers you use around kindergartens and playgrounds are non-toxic and won’t pose a threat to the kids.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Ecowood Pine Sleepers are great for this kind of job. They are treated pine products that have been protected with copper based timber preservatives, and are a softwood. They are designed for long-term protection against termites and decay, and are safe for constructions that involve close human contact or contact with domestic pets, livestock or wildlife.

Reclaimed Cypress Sleepers are also excellent, as they haven’t been chemically treated. They are also environmentally sustainable. Our Reclaimed Cypress – Hesperocyparis macrocarpa (syn. Cupressus macrocarpa) – is a North American native that has been planted widely across Australia (most commonly as wind breaks on farms) and are naturally resistant to termites and decay. They are also environmentally sustainable – on a lot of farms across Gippsland, the Cypress trees that were planted as windbreaks have now become oversized. Rather than simply log them and then dispose of the wood, many farmers are now passing the logged wood onto our supplier.

Please note: Our Reclaimed Cypress isn’t Cypress Pine (from the Callitris species). Cypress Pine is a softer wood that doesn’t possess the hardwood traits that our Reclaimed Cypress sleepers have.

Jarrah Sleepers are normally unsuitable, as most of them are either old railway sleepers or have come from structures such as bridges and sheds and so may have been treated with substances that can leach into the soil, such as creosote, oil and diesel. However, when we can get them, we stock untreated recycled Red Gum and Jarrah sleepers. Please check this with the yard staff when ordering if you want to use them to build vegie beds.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Our A-Grade Recycled Sleepers are another fantastic product to use around kindergartens and playgrounds. These recycled Red Gum sleepers originally came from a railway line in Northern NSW, and measure 2.45m x 225mm x 125mm (approx). Because they’re made of Red Gum, they still have plenty of life in them even though they’re old, and they look great. And because they’re an untreated natural hardwood, they’re completely safe to use around kids.

Our Mixed Australian Hardwood Sleepers are also excellent. These are a mix of Australian hardwoods harvested from forests in Southern NSW, mostly from Stringybark and Brown Barrel trees (Eucalyptus laevopinea and Eucalyptus fastigata). Like our A-Grade Recycled Sleepers, they are an untreated natural hardwood, which means that they are completely safe to use around kids. As well, they are certified to the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) and are part of the Australian Forestry Certification Scheme (AFCS). This certification is recognised by the Program for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest management certifier, and verifies that these sleepers come from certified legal and sustainable resources.