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Railroad ties as steps, walls, decking, planters.

Railroad ties as steps, walls, decking, planters Taming and organizing this hillside garden, railroad ties are used for raised beds, retaining walls, and decking. A coat of gray stain and simple 1-by-3 trim dress up the buiky 6- by 8-inch timbers, which come in 8-foot lengths.

For the raised planters you see above, ties were stacked three high on a bed of leveled gravel. To brace the planter walls, pressure-treated upright 2-by-4s, spaced at roughly 30-inch intervals, were nailed into the back of each row of ties.

The retaining walls that sculpt the sloping part of the site start with a level bottom course, the lowermost ties each resting on two precast 2-inch-thick, 8- by 16-inch concrete pads. To hold the ties together, pressure-treated 2-by-4s, spaced 30 inches apart and driven at least 12 inches below the bottom row, were nailed into each row (if soil in your area is too hard, substitute lengths of 1/2-inch steel reinforcing rod or steel pipe and use pipe straps to connect to the ties).

For added stability, perpendicular deadman ties, with ends visible in each stacked wall, anchor back 3 to 4 feet into the hillside; the weight of soil backfilled over these deadmen helps keep the walls from sagging.

Design was by landscape architect John Herbst, Jr., of Portland.
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Date:Aug 1, 1990
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