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Railroad Ties Landscaping

railroad ties landscaping 1
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Railroad Ties Landscaping

Wholesale and Landscape Ties A&K has been reclaiming and selling railroad ties since 1959. With a constant stock of over two million ties nationwide, we’re the leading supplier of landscape and relay ties in the country. Wholesale Ties Wholesale Ties Landscape Ties Landscape Ties Be Creative Discover all the ways railroad ties lend a raw, natural beauty to any landscaping project. Ties can be used as functional elements or for decorative accents. Construct beautiful fences, corrals, chutes, steps, retaining walls, flower boxes, borders and walkways with ties. Use them for construction applications instead of brick, cinderblock or synthetic materials. Ties can also be used in combination with other materials to create a variety of attractive textures and designs.  
railroad ties landscaping 1

Railroad Ties Landscaping

A&K has been reclaiming and selling railroad ties since 1959. With a constant stock of over two million ties nationwide, we’re the leading supplier of landscape and relay ties in the country. Wholesale Ties Wholesale Ties Landscape Ties Landscape Ties Be Creative Discover all the ways railroad ties lend a raw, natural beauty to any landscaping project. Ties can be used as functional elements or for decorative accents. Construct beautiful fences, corrals, chutes, steps, retaining walls, flower boxes, borders and walkways with ties. Use them for construction applications instead of brick, cinderblock or synthetic materials. Ties can also be used in combination with other materials to create a variety of attractive textures and designs.  
railroad ties landscaping 2

Railroad Ties Landscaping

Railroad ties are common in older landscapes, but are old railroad ties safe for gardening? Railroad ties are treated wood, steeped in a toxic stew of chemicals, chief of which is creosote. You can find old railroad ties for sale even at garden centers, which makes the question confusing. The EPA has denounced these repurposed barriers as toxic and not recommended for the garden. Let’s explore why and what alternatives for railroad ties for landscaping are safer and just as effective.
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Railroad Ties Landscaping

Old railroad ties are used in landscaping to provide edging for flower beds or walkways or to construct small retaining walls, compost bins or raised beds while also bringing an attractive rustic element to a yard. In order to avoid potentially dangerous situations and maintain a neat and orderly appearance, it is necessary to secure old railroad ties or landscape timbers firmly in place. Burying the first row of ties and pounding ample steel spikes or lengths of rebar to hold levels of ties together effectively anchors the ties.
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Railroad Ties Landscaping

If you have just purchased a property and want to build some raised garden beds, railroad ties seem like an inexpensive easy option. However, you might ask yourself, “should I use railroad ties in my garden?” True, you have probably seen them in friend’s landscapes and neighborhoods are rife with the wood. Unfortunately, what we traditionally have done in the past we are now discovering was a mistake. Using railroad ties for garden beds can pose a threat to your soil, pets and children, as well as the food you grow.
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Railroad Ties Landscaping

Discover all the ways railroad ties lend a raw, natural beauty to any landscaping project. Ties can be used as functional elements or for decorative accents. Construct beautiful fences, corrals, chutes, steps, retaining walls, flower boxes, borders and walkways with ties. Use them for construction applications instead of brick, cinderblock or synthetic materials. Ties can also be used in combination with other materials to create a variety of attractive textures and designs.
railroad ties landscaping 6

Railroad Ties Landscaping

Be Creative Discover all the ways railroad ties lend a raw, natural beauty to any landscaping project. Ties can be used as functional elements or for decorative accents. Construct beautiful fences, corrals, chutes, steps, retaining walls, flower boxes, borders and walkways with ties. Use them for construction applications instead of brick, cinderblock or synthetic materials. Ties can also be used in combination with other materials to create a variety of attractive textures and designs.  
railroad ties landscaping 7

Railroad Ties Landscaping

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.
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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.
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Warning Do not use old railroad ties that may have been soaked in creosote, as this can harm nearby plants, or other harmful old preservatives. Also avoid railroad ties or timbers that could be infested by termites.
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Now—you may be scratching your head and saying, “but I think I’ve seen old railroad ties for sale recently.” And you probably have. I found one online seller who specializes in them, boasting on their website that “Used railroad ties are great for retaining walls and other applications around the house.”

…Which, since it’s an unapproved use of a registered pesticide, can’t be legal. But it doesn’t look like there’s any enforcement. I found old railroad ties for sale this month at the website of one of the ‘big box’ national home center chains (not modern ‘imitations’ either—”old railroad ties”).
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Once the ties are out, they should be disposed of. Whatever you do, don’t burn the ties! This releases toxic gases that can be even more dangerous than simple topical contamination. The railroad ties in vegetable gardens that are so common as raised bed barriers pose the worst threat. In these areas, the soil should definitely be removed to a depth of several inches. Dispose of the soil and install fresh uncontaminated soil for growing your foodstuffs.
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Again, I quote the EPA: “Creosote is not approved to treat wood for residential use, including landscaping timbers and garden borders. There are no approved residential uses of creosote treated wood. The Agency is aware that creosote-treated railroad ties are being used in the residential setting for landscape purposes and as a border around gardens. Such uses in residential settings are not intended uses of creosote. If you have creosote-treated wood in your yard, consult the handling precautions outlined in this document.”
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Railroad ties are thick, durable, cheap, recycled wood that forms long-lasting barriers for beds, paths and retaining walls. You see them everywhere and many consider their distressed appearance naturally attractive. The wood is preserved by soaking it in creosote, which is composed of over 300 chemicals, many of them toxic and persistent in soil.
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Exposure to creosote has been shown to cause cancer. Even topical contact with creosote can be dangerous. For this reason, it is unwise to use railroad ties in vegetable gardens where contact is inevitable. Additionally, as the wood slowly breaks down, it will release this toxic brew into your soil, contaminating it and your food.
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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.

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