Saturday, 24 October 2015

Garden sleepers and sand cuttings

I've been making the most of the mild weather we've been getting here. It's extremely unusual for the wind to be as absent as it has been for the past few weeks and I dare say we'll soon return to the usual windy conditions but until then I'm making the most of what we have.

I had promised myself that I wouldn't make a start on any more hard landscaping until I had caught up and cleared the rest of the garden which has been neglected all year but I couldn't help myself, I have hundreds of plants waiting to be put into the garden and want it all ready for them in spring. These poor plants have been housed in pots for too many years now and they're beginning to show signs of stress so it's important that I make them a home ready.
With this in mind I decided to build a retaining wall out of old old railway sleepers, these sleepers have seen better days to be honest but I have heaps of them and I needed a retaining bed to add some height for the shrubs I want to plant in there.
I've only managed a small section so far - these things weigh a ton and have to be reinforced at the back to prevent them falling - but once I have them all in place I will board the fences behind the sleepers and then fill them with top soil.

I haven't made the border too wide once it's filled because a) I had to consider the amount it would take to fill and b) I'm only putting shrubs in there.
The ground in front of the sleepers is going to be dug out and curved so that I can plant perennials and then I'll put a decking or patio to the front of that.

The fence to the right of the wall is an aviary so I''l grow some honeysuckle up that but that back fence will eventually be replaced by a solid wall so I have to make sure any soil retaining boards I put up can stand by themselves until the wall is built.
I also have to add approximately another 4 bays of sleepers to the top left as it's a large area.

A job even more tedious than digging in sleepers is the cleaning of this decking. All those small harling chips are well and truly wedged, I tried to convince myself that I didn't care but I couldn't live with the look. Besides the decking needs sanding and re-treating so I have to keep at it a bit every day - it's soooooooo boring.

There are two plants in particular that I have never managed to propagate with any success - Cornus and Philadelphus. I'm not sure what I do wrong, I've followed instructions to the letter and yet no matter what method I have used the years of trying have totalled 1 Cornus and 2 Philadelphus. Last year I tried a technique of shoving cuttings in sand but after I did them I damaged my back and completely forgot about them. When I emptied the bucket though all the now dead cuttings showed obvious root growth so a few months ago I gave it another go.
I basically filled a tub with very damp sand, shoved Cornus and Philadelphus cuttings in, tightly packed, then inserted the tub into a large white bin liner, tied it up and left it.
2 days ago I decided to turn it out and see what had happened, I knew they must have rooted because everything was still alive but I was amazed with the results - out of approx 20 cuttings of each I lost literally only 1 or 2.

Suffice to say I am really happy with the results and will most certainly be doing alot more next year with many other types of plants.
Now I just need to add them to the hundreds of other plants desperately needing to lay down roots in the garden.


  1. Those beds are going to need lots of soil to fill them up but it will look great when you have finished it. By the way who lives in the aviary?

    1. That particular one is my daughters barn owl Sue and then further along the garden is my husbands 2 Eagle owls, Notice how these massive aviaries are on my garden when we have a further 4 acres they could choose from lol.
      I am a tad concerned about the volume of soil needed lol. I have quite alot ready to go but I don't know if it will be enough.

  2. I love the look of the railway sleepers! That will look so great when finished! That is so exciting that almost all the cuttings grew. I love propagating, but I usually don't have the time for it. I'll have to remember your technique!

  3. Thanks for the article very good. Garden sleepers really are so versatile to use in many landscaping projects and can be used as raised flower beds, bordering, as steps and fencing.

  4. Really enjoying your articles, specially this one as I think garden sleepers are so versatile and look great plus they are comparatively cheap.

  5. Really enjoyed you article. I think garden sleepers are so versatile and reasonably cheap and can be used in so many different ways around your garden. If you are looking for good quality sleepers try the Topwood Garden Buildings online shop who often have oak and softwood garden sleepers on sale.


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