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How to Get Rid of Railroad Landscape Timbers

By Amma Marfo
Railroad timbers

Railroad ties or timbers can be useful in the garden and around your landscaping to create raised beds, form retaining walls or act as steps when placed on a slope. When they are no longer needed, however, it can be a challenge to get rid of railroad landscape timbers since they are large, heavy and often anchored to the ground with long nails or spikes. While you can recycle the timbers by offering them to family and friends who may need them, unusable or unwanted timbers will need to be disposed of properly.

Pull up any loose or wobbly timbers that aren't anchored down by hand. Have a friend help you lift the railroad timbers, as they can be exceptionally heavy. Form a pile of the timbers in one place, either close to your garbage pickup location or where you can easily reach the pile with a truck.

Wedge a shovel head under any timbers that don't shift when you push on them. Push down on the shovel handle to use it as a lever and raise the timber from the ground. Reposition the shovel as needed and push down again until the timber is loose. Place the timbers in your pile.

Use a crowbar or pry bar on timbers that are nailed to the ground to remove the long nails and free the timber. For large spikes or rebars, you may have to dig down into the ground to free the timber. Lift the timbers once they are no longer anchored to the ground and place them in the pile.

Continue lifting and removing the railroad timbers from their current location until you have collected all of them. Gather any pieces or chunks from the ground that have broken off from the ties. Discard smaller hand-sized pieces in a trash bag and place larger pieces in your pile.

Contact your city or county waste facility to arrange for bulk pickup collection or find out the appropriate location for drop-off in your city. If you live in a rural area where you typically take your trash to a dumpster, contact your town's local waste management authority to determine if taking your timbers to the dumpster is appropriate or if you need to arrange for a manual pickup.


Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Crowbar or pry bar
  • Trash bag
  • Rake, optional


  • Some worn or aged railroad timbers may begin to crumble apart when handled. If yours are splintering and falling apart, use care as you work with the timber to try to collect the largest possible pieces. Rake up the smaller mulch-like portions left behind on the ground and dispose of them in your trash.


  • Wear gloves to prevent injury and avoid exposure to the creosote coating on the outside of the railroad timbers.