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Does moss damage railway sleepers?

(7 Posts)
msrisotto Wed 20-Apr-16 16:33:20

New gardener here and my garden has beds made from railway sleepers. I noticed some have moss on them - should I remove it?

Ifailed Thu 21-Apr-16 07:44:24

I wouldn't worry, I actually think it looks nice. Maybe worth checking how solid the sleepers are? Of course, over time they will rot away, but genuine sleepers were treated with preservative and should last for decades.

Footle Thu 21-Apr-16 07:48:05

Some people have concerns about whether the preservative might affect fruit and veg grown in the beds. I don't know whether this is a real problem.

Ifailed Thu 21-Apr-16 07:50:54

preservative might affect fruit and veg grown
true, however old railway sidings seem to rapidly get colonised!

ABetaDad1 Thu 21-Apr-16 07:52:30

he only issue with moss will be that it holds water against the wood and it will eventually rot.

That said a railway sleeper will no doubt even with that last many decades.

shovetheholly Thu 21-Apr-16 08:25:18

Plants will colonise virtually anything - look at Chernobyl! Doesn't mean that you'd want to eat a lettuce grown there, though. There is evidence that 'real' railway sleepers, i.e. ones that have been used on trainlines, leach nasty preservatives e.g. creosote into the soil - so I wouldn't use them for a bed where you're growing things to eat. (Check out Somerville Texas for a sobering story about creosote). I suspect fake sleepers, i.e. the ones you buy new from shops, won't have been blasted with as many nasties.

The moss won't damage the sleepers, but the moisture that it indicates is present will eventually (it won't grow in dry areas - it just gets dessicated). It'll be a slow process on such thick wood, though. I rather like moss, though, and I think I'd be tempted to leave it there and accept the gradual weathering. But I'm not one for those ultra-tidy gardens where everything is scrubbed.

msrisotto Thu 21-Apr-16 08:49:53

Ah helpful, thanks. The previous owner said he nicked them from a disused railway line or something! shock so I guess they are genuine, however they are showing some big cracks too.

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