Laying sleepers on clay

12 Jul 2009
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United Kingdom
The back garden is mainly grass and the section where i want to lay sleepers gets waterlogged in heavy rain. I believe under the lawn is clay and even a tree in the middle doesn't soak up the water.

I'm wanting to build a narrow walkway alongside the garage to the side door out of sleepers which would probably be laid 3 or 4 high but i'm not sure what i'd need to put underneath them.
I'm guessing dig a trench, line with hardcore/ pebbles then lay some dpm down and bring it up over the first layer of sleepers to stop some of the standing water from penetrating? - would doing this keep water from leaving the sleeper though?

I've attached a pic of what is currently the edge of the law which i want to replace (old pic which doesn't show the border but gives you an idea)

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I built some steps recently from sleepers on clay ground and dug a shallow hole filled with concrete and topped with a breeze block where the sleepers joined, I then screwed adjoining sleepers together with strapping.

I have to say that sleepers are very slippery when wet, so you might want to nail chicken wire or similar to reduce the chance of slipping if its going to be used often
Sleepers are fine to use as retaining edgeing to paths or steps but are totally unsuitable for the actual treads or surface of a path where you may step in anything other than an exposed coastal location.

They are just far too slippery unless absolutely spotless in terms of algae and moss growth.
sorry should have mentioned the full use

the sleepers are to be 3 or 4 high so they're just under level height with the concrete base of the garage. I would cut some down and lay them accross the trench at the same height as supports and fit some decking on top for walking on (hope this makes sense)

At the moment i have concrete gravel boards as edging and gravel in the middle to walk on - i want it to look better than this though
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Why not use breeze blocks as the support, then put decking over, and along the side to hide the blocks from view. I think you would need quite a deep layer of hard core, then sand, to avoid sinkage given that clay expands and contracts with the weather. However, I personally would not worry too much. I'd be tempted to lay blocks on compacted soil, with ~5cm sand beneath to help levelling.
The initial idea was to have a small wall built alongside and paving flags on top, this would cost too much so i thought sleepers as i could "probably" manage this myself, it would cost less (no labour) and would blend in with the hedges, tree, lawn

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