Timber risers for compacted gravel steps.

A question for the landscapers out there. A fairly large garden that I maintain was landscaped five years ago and includes some self binding gravel paths and a lot of steps. I believe it is oak that was used as the retainers/risers and would have expected these to have lasted quite a number of years. However they are already falling apart (not helped by the inadequate screws) and a lot of them are rotting off. Should Oak not last a lot longer than that ?

So now some repair work is necessary I am wondering what you would use and if there is anything else that can be done to help preserve them, the owners really don't want to have to replace them every five years, there's probably about 120 of them. I will try and add a photo of the problem. I'm not going to be doing the job myself but want to know that it is carried out properly, a few steps have been replaced recently with tanalised pine and I'm pretty sure this is not the answer.


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  • Tanalised/treated timber should be the way to go it should last at least ten years.
  • oak can rot very quickly. depends on the situations its in. if its free draining you will get a longer life but if its in damp saturated ground it can rot pretty quickly

  • PRO
    Tantalised softwood timber will only be OK if it treated to class 4.

    You need to ask the merchants before you buy - don't assume that all tantalised timber is the same! And don't be surprised if the merchants don't know what class their timber is treated to.
    • PRO

      The so called tanalised timber you can buy in the diy sheds would be totally unsuitable for this purpose so i would avoid this source of timber .

      I have a habit of treating even the tanalised timber i buy from the timber merchant especially any sawn ends i just paint it with creosote or a substitute and let it dry especially if its making contact with the soil . 

      I can't seem to find the same quality of hardwood tanalised timber as i did previously , It's annoying when they deliver lengths of useless split and bowing timber , well worth the time spent going and picking out your own material .

      The timber used to come with a fifteen year guarantee but not so much now . 

      I have a client requesting some raised vegetable beds constructed from untreated sleepers I can't see them lasting ,one can only advise and i wouldn't guarantee the  life span of any timber used .

  • So UC4 tanalised timber is the way to go, that is great, many thanks for the replies.

    • PRO

      A very good resource , Thanks for posting this link Gary 

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