How to Install Steps From Railroad Ties in a Landscape

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Install Steps From Railroad Ties in a Landscape
(David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Make use of old sleepers for landscaping your hillside path. Sleepers make ideal steps when terraced into a hill. The step can be dug out and the sleeper installed at the front edge. The remaining portion of the step can be filled with gravel and tamped down. Sleepers are resistant to rot, making them well-suited to landscaping projects. Improve your home's landscape and reduce the environmental impact by reusing old materials in this project.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Landscaping spray paint
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Plate compactor
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 3/8-inch-diameter rebar, 18 inches long
  • Mallet
  • Gravel

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  1. 1

    Measure and mark off the area in which you'll install the steps, using landscaping spray paint. Mark the step and riser locations onto the marked-off pathway.

  2. 2

    Dig out the steps and risers, using a shovel. Dump the dirt into a wheelbarrow for removal from your property. Dig down to the depth of the sleepers and dig out a step that's as wide as the ties are long.

  3. 3

    Tamp down the step area of the dugout ground, using a plate compactor to create a level surface for the steps.

  4. 4

    Position one sleeper at the front edge of each step. Drill four evenly spaced holes through each sleeper with a 3/8-inch drill bit. Firmly seat the tie into place. Drive 3/8-by-18-inch rebar down through the holes in the sleeper and into the ground, with a mallet.

  5. 5

    Fill in the remaining portion of the steps behind the sleepers with gravel. Tamp down the gravel with a plate compactor to create a firm surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Build steps along a garden pathway or nature trail on your property to prevent ground erosion.
  • Wear gloves when landscaping.

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