7 Ideal Alternatives To Railway Sleepers

Are you looking to create a beautiful outdoor landscape for your garden but feel limited by the materials available to you? Whilst railway sleepers are a popular choice for myriad garden projects, and for a good reason, there are lots of other materials which are just as suitable for the job. To help you find the perfect option for you, below, I’ve detailed seven alternatives to railway sleepers. 

So what are the alternatives to railway sleepers? Some of the best alternatives for railways sleepers include concrete slabs, recycled plastic blanks, composite decking, bricks, paving stones, logs, and even select metals.

Railway sleepers are pretty much iconic in the gardening realm. They have a unique rustic charm and are reliably durable and long-lasting. 

Even so, it’s definitely worth familiarising yourself with the alternatives.

You may just find one or two that better suit your aesthetic and even your budget!  

So carry on reading to explore everything from wooden logs to much more modern options. 

Alternatives To Railway Sleepers

Concrete Slabs

If you’re looking to curate a more modern look in your garden, concrete slabs could be the perfect solution for you.

They have a clean and sleek finish and can be used for everything from garden paths to edging.

Plus, they’re easy enough to install, strong enough to handle heavy foot traffic, and their low maintenance nature means that you can rely on them to last a long time with very little upkeep.

As for a bonus, they also tend to be much more budget-friendly than railway sleepers.

Recycled Plastic Planks

If you’re keen to take an eco-friendly route, albeit one that is modern and minimalistic, it’s worth considering recycled plastic planks.

Their overall aesthetic is one of a wooden look and texture, and their installation is nothing short of a breeze.

As with traditional railway sleepers, plastic planks can be used in several ways in your garden.

Most commonly, they’re used to raise flower and vegetable beds, for landscape bordering, and for creating steps and even garden furniture.

Perhaps their primary selling point is how easy they are to maintain.  

Composite Decking

If you’re looking for an alternative to railway sleepers that offers the same durability but with a more modern aesthetic and arguably more versatility, composite decking might be the perfect solution for your garden.

This type of decking is made from a resin material and can be stained, painted, or treated to protect it against water damage.

With composite decking, the options are seemingly endless.

Alongside using it for flooring, be it across your whole patio or just a section of it, you can use it for raising your flower beds or edging the perimeter of just about anything in your garden. 


If you’re a fan of a more natural aesthetic, bricks are a great low-maintenance alternative to railway sleepers.

You can use them for paving stones or for making a garden wall that will add a more classic feel to your outdoor space.

Bricks are very durable and long-lasting, and the sheer variety of them means that you have plenty of room to get creative with whatever you choose to design!

Plus, it helps that they’re both inexpensive and easy to install. 

Paving Stones

Paving stones make a great choice for patios or walkways, but they can also be used for walls and garden beds.

They have a very classic feel and can be easily stained or treated to protect them from even the harshest of elements.

They’re available in different materials, such as limestone and sandstone, and come in a range of colors, so they’re capable of suiting pretty much any garden style.

Just take your pick!


Logs are yet another worthy option for any gardener seeking a more natural look outdoors.

They come in a wide range of sizes, so whether you’re aiming to define boundaries, raise your flower beds, or create a walkway, you can guarantee that you’ll be able to find a good fit. 


Finally, they may not be suited to everybody’s taste, but corrugated metal sheets and galvanized steel are becoming increasingly popular in the gardening realm.

In particular, steel, which is both relatively long-lasting and affordable, is great for tackling structural needs such as raising flower beds and contemporary edging.

And you won’t have to worry about it corroding away! If anything, exposure to the atmosphere bolsters, rather than detracts from, the steel’s strength. 

Considerations When Using Alternatives to Railway Sleepers 

Railway sleepers are popular for a reason.

Namely, they’re versatile, hard-wearing, and environmentally friendly.

Thus, when seeking out alternatives, it’s important not to compromise.

Below are the key considerations to keep in mind whilst you explore other options:


It’s fundamental to choose a material that will stand the test of time. There are a few factors to be aware of here.

First, you’ll need a material that can remain resilient no matter what the weather conditions it faces.

The last thing that you need is a material that will physically degrade.

Look for something that won’t crack, fade, or retain heat during hot and dry times and won’t retain moisture or develop mold when it’s wet.

Additionally, your chosen material should be rot-resistant. If it’s not, it will begin to decay and will quickly become difficult, if not entirely impossible, to salvage.

Finally, the material that you choose should also be rust-resistant; it shouldn’t corrode when exposed to oxygen and water. 


Before you make your purchase, it’s important to decide what style you want, as this will help you narrow down your search.

For a more rustic style, logs may be the best way forward for you.

For a more modern look, composite decking or plastic planks could be a better fit.

There’s no shortage of options, so determine exactly what it is that you want before you go ahead and invest. 


Finally, you’ll want to make sure that the material you opt for is well within your budget, both for your initial purchase of it as well as any ongoing purchases you wish to make in line with your future garden needs.

Nonetheless, whilst it’s important to be prudent, refrain from compromising on quality, and be sure to thoroughly check the products before you buy them. 

Other guides you may want to read: