8 Adorable Railroad Tie Landscaping Ideas
Using reclaimed wood is a big trend right now. Pallets are all the rage because they can be used for just about anything. But have you ever thought about using old railroad ties? Railroad ties are the wooden tracks on a railroad and they can look really cute as part of your landscape. Here are 8 adorable railroad tie landscaping ideas.
Railroad Tie Landscaping Ideas:
1. Reclaimed Fence
Railroad ties are pretty large and sturdy. You could make a fence with minimal effort. Stack and nail the ties together and create a sturdy fence that won’t be coming down. You can paint or stain the fence to give it whole new look too! You’ll have more curb appeal with this reclaimed fence.
2. Front Steps
Railroad ties would make an awesome entrance into your home. Stack your ties on an incline so they create steps up to your front door. They will look unique and catch people’s eyes as they go up the steps.
3. A Rustic Walkway
If you have access to a lot of railroad ties you can make a rustic walkway that no one else will have. You’ll need to dig where you want the walkway to be so that it’s even with the lawn. Wouldn’t it be cute to have a wooden walkway up to your house instead of a cement or concrete one? It’d be unique and give your yard a rustic, country feel.
4. Railroad Raised Flower Bed
It wouldn’t be hard to lay your railroad ties down and create a box to plant flowers in. You’d just need to stack your railroad ties on top of each other and form a square or a rectangle. Then all you need to do is plant flowers in it and you’re done! Easy peasy.
5. Railroad Retaining Wall
If you’re yard is starting to slope, install a railroad retaining wall. Retaining walls prevent your yard from washing away when it rains. You might as well make the retaining wall look super cute too. Stack the railroad ties on top of each other and screw them together to make sure it’s stable. It needs to be strong so that it won’t topple over when it starts to rain.
6. Pergola Posts
Railroad ties make great posts for pergolas because they are really thick and sturdy. You could make your entire pergola out of railroad ties but you’d need to know what you’re doing. Make sure the railroad ties are really stable to make sure the pergola doesn’t come crashing down. Consider putting the posts in cement.
7. Horseshoe Pit
It would be so much fun to be able to play horseshoes whenever you wanted or when friends came over. Put your railroad ties in the ground in a rectangle and put sand in the middle of it. Stick a piece of rebar in the middle of the sand and you have a horseshoe pit! Simple!
8. Light Post
Hang a lantern from a railroad tie and you’ll have a light post that looks like it belongs in a Western movie. This will be a fun accent to your yard and it will also shed some light on your yard for outdoor parties or guests.
There are so many creative things you can make out of railroad ties. Railroad tie landscaping is fun and it allows you to think outside the box. Any of these ideas will look amazing in your yard. Try making an old railroad tie become a beautiful piece to your yard and see how much fun it can be.
Image Source: Pixabay
Landscaping Ideas With Railroad Ties
By Renee Miller
Railroad ties are available in many sizes and grades. Some are rough cut while others have smooth edges and even corners. You can choose from cedar, pressure treated and creosoted, or ties that are only creosoted. These options give you many ways to use railroad ties creatively in your landscape to add interest and appeal to your home.
Creosote is used on railroad ties as a wood preservative. When coated with creosote, railway ties are better able to stand up to weathering and the pressure from trains running over the rail lines. This sticky black substance you find on some railway ties is a byproduct of coal production; but because it is a carcinogenic, it is not an ideal material for use in home landscapes. Instead, look for ties that are made of redwood or cedar, which have not been chemically treated but weather the elements very well, or use pressure-treated ties. Pressure-treated railway ties typically have a green hue, and are available at most home improvement and garden stores.
Railroad ties are most commonly used in landscapes for building retaining walls because they're easy to install and usually less expensive than bricks or natural stone. The large sturdy timbers are difficult to move once in place, making them ideal for walls along gardens, pools and decks. Because they are available in different sizes and profiles, you can arrange railroad ties in several configurations to create a wall that’s unique to your landscape. Railroad ties can be stacked and used as support for raised beds of any height. They are also ideal as edging around garden beds that are flush with the rest of the landscape. Use a single layer of ties to create a low retaining wall, or stack several ties in alternating layers for a raised garden bed. Railway ties are an ideal solution to landscapes with slopes and uneven grading. Terracing a slope that is slowly eroding with a series of short retaining walls made of landscape ties not only adds a pleasing aesthetic to your landscape, it also stops the soil from washing away. Place small gardens along each set of ties to add color.
Railroad ties placed along your driveway make mowing easier by eliminating the need to trim around the edges. If you have a gravel driveway, railroad ties also keep the stones in your driveway where they belong. Stacking the railroad ties along sloped driveways so that they’re staggered gives a stepping effect, which adds interest to your home’s landscape. Pair these with decorative gravel or small shrubs to soften the landscape in front of your home.
Walkways and Paths
Create a walkway through your garden using railway ties instead of stone or concrete. Railroad ties are easier to install and less expensive than stones. For a simple walkway, dig out the soil along your path so that the depth is equal to one-half to three-quarters the height of the ties when laid flat. Cut your railroad ties into 2-foot long sections, and place them in the ground as you would do with paving stones, staggering the joints and placing each end tightly against the next. Alternate the orientation of the ties to give a basket weave effect, or lay longer lengths across the path for a planked look.
Stairs and Steps
Use railroad ties to create stairs up to your doors, decks and patios. Border the ties with natural stone or other materials, such as a wrought iron handrail, to mix textures and colors for visual interest.
Renee Miller began writing professionally in , contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.
Transform Your Yard With A Railroad Tie Retaining Wall
There are a few things that can really bring an outdoor space together. Good landscaping in general can spruce up any yard. This includes some nice shade trees, water supplies, and personal touches with outdoor decor.
But of course, these things arent limited to these three items. In fact, a good retaining wall with repurposed materials is another thing that can make your yard look amazing without too much effort.
What Is A Railroad Tie Retaining Wall?
There are two things you need to know about to understand railroad tie retaining walls. The first thing is railroad ties. Railroad ties are beams that were originally used to create railroads, especially traditional ones.
Today, railroad ties are being replaced by metal counterparts, but they are still in use in certain areas. But when railroads are replaced, the railroad ties are repurposed, often landing in the hands of everyday people.
If you are lucky enough to find railroad ties to use, then seize the opportunity. There are a lot of different projects you can take on with railroad ties but a traditional project is a railroad tie retaining wall.
How To Build A Railroad Tie Retaining Wall
Building a retaining wall in general can be difficult. But when you learn what you need to know about retaining walls, you can build your retaining wall with confidence. Here are the steps you can take to build a railroad tie retaining wall.
Level The Ground
The first thing you want to do is to level the ground. Make sure that everywhere you are adding the railroad ties is even and flat. If you are building up, you can add a little dirt or gravel to the backside at this point.
If you are leaving the area as it is and building a wall against dirt already there, then you can mark the spots where the boards will go. Its even more important to make sure the ground is level in this case.
Create A Base
After you are sure that the area is level, you can start adding the baseboards. There are a few different ways to do this. The most secure way is to dig down to half the height of a tie. This is usually about four inches.
This is so you can bury the bottom railroad ties to make it even more stable. Its a good idea at this point to also add vertical boards on either side of the retaining wall. Dig down at least six inches and add the vertical boards every feet.
Add A Moisture Barrier
This is also a good time to add a moisture barrier. This can also work as a weed barrier. Line everywhere the railroad ties will touch with the cloth or plastic. This will prevent moisture from gathering.
If you buy a moisture barrier and a weed barrier, you can add them both. Seeing weeds sprout up from your retaining wall does not look good at all. So this is an important step that wont cost you much.
Create A Drain
There are many different types of drains you can create for your retaining wall. A great choice is a French drain which not only is effective but looks quite nice too. You can work with it to become part of your landscape design.
But a French drain isnt the only option. There are plenty of different types of drains you can make, the point is making sure the water is led to somewhere you want it to go. Creating a reservoir is another great way to let it play into your design.
Stagger The Ties
When adding the railroad ties to your retaining wall, make sure to stagger them like blocks. They need to overlap or they wont be secure at all. Its a good idea to cut the ties in half at every other level.
You can also get randomly cut railroad ties to stagger, though this is difficult to work with if your retaining wall isnt perfectly straight. So planning each tie is your best bet for a secure wall that is easy to build.
Secure The Ties
Every time you add a railroad tie to the wall, secure it with bolts made specifically for this purpose. Its okay if you drill down a few inches so you dont have to have inch screws or bolts. This is a normal way to secure them.
A better size is 6-inches because any less isnt very secure. You want to cover about half of the railroad tie, so drill down halfway and use a smaller bit to make a hole that will allow the screw to pass through.
Other Retaining Walls
There are many other types of retaining walls you can build, some of them even simpler than railroad tie retaining walls. So use your own resources or create a dream retaining wall by choosing the one that speaks to you.
Keep in mind that these are different materials you can use for your retaining wall. Because the technical and architectural types are something that you can look deeper into with a general retaining wall guide.
Brick is a safe choice with more options than youd think. It is safer and more secure than railroad ties but it is harder to work with. In order to use brick, you need to know about bricklaying and how to use mortar.
Stone is one of the most beautiful types of retaining walls. It looks natural, magical, and has a natural draining system. Stone also needs to be laid by someone with experience with it but it isnt as picky as a more symmetrical material.
Concrete is a great option for those who want a contemporary design. It is difficult to lay because you need to create a mold for the concrete to be poured into. But with the right base, it is the most secure option.
Blocks of any kind are a great choice because they are secure and stable. You can get wooden blocks, stone blocks, concrete blocks, or even glass blocks. They are easy to lay if you have any experience in laying them.
Caged rocks are a unique option with a garden look. They cant be as tall as other types of retaining walls can be but if you make multiple rows of caged rocks then you can stack them quite well for a stunning design.
Vegetation walls are very unique and can be useful as well. Some vegetation walls are like stable hedges with a wood or stone base. But others are like vertical gardens that you can actually feed your family with.
Of course, railroad tie retaining walls are made with wood, but they arent the only type of wood you can use. Any type of wood can be used for a retaining wall, so choose what is available or what you like the look of.
More Ways To Use Railroad Ties
If you are more interested in the railroad tie aspect of this than the retaining wall aspect, then youre probably looking for some ideas on how to use railroad ties. Here are some projects you can use your railroad ties for.
Railroad Tie Coffee Table
A railroad tie coffee table is the perfect thing for any man cave or warm, nature-inspired living room. You can build it with just the railroad ties or bring it together with a bar of concrete as shown here.
Thats whats so great about railroad ties. They are versatile. If you know your way around a saw, you can even slice them longways to create thinner boards that can be used like traditional lumber from the lumberyard.
Railroad Tie Mantle
If you only have one railroad tie to work with, then a mantle could be all you need for that rustic flair a railroad tie adds. Tell stories around the fireplace about where you got the railroad tie from and imagine the history it has seen.
You can build an entire frame for your fireplace from railroad ties but if you only have one, this is a good way to showcase it well. Just make sure it is mounted well so it doesnt fall or rattle when disrupted.
Railroad Tie Steps
This is a great compliment to your railroad tie retaining wall. You can create steps fairly easily with railroad ties as they are already the right size. Just make sure each step is level and secured well into the ground.
You will need to bury each one partway to make sure it is stable. From there, you can use gravel around it or build retaining walls on either side to add stability and create a gorgeous mini-hall in your yard.
Railroad Tie Bench
There are many different ways to make railroad tie seating. You can build a simple bench with two legs or build one with a raised back. If you know how to build a bench with one thing, you can build one with another.
Building benches isnt difficult, but having a carpenter on hand your first time is a good idea since it will need to bear the weight of a human. The end result will be worth any money spent on getting a woodworkers help.
Landscaping with Railroad Ties
Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty Images
For more than a century, landscaping with railroad ties has been a quintessentially American solution to just about every garden quandary. As the railways expanded across our country, trees were cut for ties and ties were used and replaced in order to maintain the safety of the rails. Now, ties are everywhere.
Need to build natural stairs into a hill? Frame a tree? Border a driveway? Create terracing? Build a wall? There's a tie for that!
When it comes to landscaping, railroad ties, it seems, can do it all.
Increasingly, railroad ties are being used in combination with brick, sand, concrete, large rocks or gravel to create modern landscaping designs that have both a traditional and contemporary feel.
Ties can be cut into any length to serve as in-ground steps, bed borders, mailbox posts or for other uses.
Instead of traditional brick steps leading up to a home, ties are placed lengthwise over bricks to act as treads. For an old-world effect for a front patio, create your own mini-piazza with ties laid into squares filled with sand or white pea gravel. Design the ultimate terraced backyard garden with multiple two-tie retaining walls.
Ties are being used indoors, as well – from reclaimed wood flooring to artsy fireplace mantels.
Genuine railroad ties have had their share of PR problems, however, and you may wish to consider purchasing an alternative timber product instead of a used tie.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that creosote, the chemical used to treat the ties, can be hazardous to your health and to the health of some plant life. Ties treated with creosote are not recommended for residential settings. Bare skin should not come into contact with the treated wood; humans should not breathe sawdust from the cutting of the wood; the ties should not be used to frame an edible garden or come into contact with any source of water for humans and animals. Re-purposed ties haven't been banned for residential use and are still sold in many stores. You may have existing ties on your property. Just be aware of the risks.
Now that we've got the warnings out of the way, you'll be glad to know that a safer version of railroad ties made from recycled and composite materials exists on the market – and these timbers will give you the rustic feel and sturdiness of a traditional tie without the health risks.
Ties ideas railroad
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