Here is a quick reference for making a DIY (Do It Yourself) raised flower bed from Railroad Ties. Railroad Ties have been a prime source of edging for raised flower and vegetable beds for many years. At one time, old railroad ties were not that easy to come by. Today they may be a little easier to acquire. Many lumber yards now stock railroad ties because they are so popular. They do, however, remain a favorite material for raised beds because they are durable and can last for many years.
The first thing you need to do is to measure the space in your yard and garden, then purchase your railroad ties. They usually come in lengths of 8 feet. It will be much easier for you if you will try to accommodate your bed to the size of the railroad ties. Meaning that you should plan your flower bed or vegetable raised bed in increments of 8 foot lengths. This way, you will not have to deal with cutting the railroad ties to a shorter length. They can be cut with a power saw if it is necessary. Please note that they are not that easy to cut and they are heavy, but they are well worth the effort of using.
After you decide on the length and width of your raised bed, then mark it off using a string and some stakes. Tie the string onto the end of a stake placed at the corner of the bed space. Then pull the string tightly by wrapping the string around one end of the string and stake until it is tight. Lay your first layer of ties directly under the string making sure it is straight.
After you get your first layer down, you can add another layer as high as you would like. I think most people use from 1 to 2 layers of railroad ties. Make sure they are straight and stacked evenly. You should use long deck screws of at least 4 inch in length. Start by drilling a hole into the corners of the layers and then add your screws directly into the holes. Before you add your soil, you should make sure that there are no weeds in the area that you are using as a bed. If you have a lot of weeds, try to get out as many as you can, then put down some sheet mulch that will not allow weeds to get through to the soil. If possible, don’t use something that will allow for water drainage.
After you have secured the corners, you are ready to add the soil. This is a prime opportunity for you to make the best soil mixtures that you can. You can purchase good top soil, compost, humus, manure, or cotton burr to mix together for a rich fertile soil. If you have good soil already, you might want to just add enough of a certain material, or mix it in with your existing soil to build up the amount of soil that you need for your raised bed.