The Size of Landscape Timber
"Landscape timber" can have more than one meaning. A landscape timber can be any log or lumber piece that's used in landscaping, as a decorative planter wall, as a border for a garden bed, as edging for a walkway or some other purpose.
It is often used, however, to refer to a specific type of lumber that is approximately 3 inches by 4 inches, with rounded edges; even building supply stores whose catalogs list timbers in a variety of styles and dimensions will probably produce this version if you just ask for "landscape timbers."
8 Feet Is Standard Length
Most landscape timbers are produced in 8-foot lengths, which is a standard construction dimension. Railroad ties salvaged from removed tracks are traditionally 9 feet, 6 inches; some building supply stores sell both used ties at that length and new ones not treated with creosote in 8-foot lengths.
Widths of landscape timbers can vary. The typical rounded-edge version is approximately 3 inches deep by 4 inches wide, but these measurements can vary slightly from timber to timber. Some of these are produced as byproducts of plywood production, and are the inner section of a log after the outside layers have been peeled off for veneer sheets.
Most Are Squares or Rectangles
Most landscape timbers are square or rectangular. Many landscapers use 4-inch by 4-inch preservative-treated posts for landscaping; the flat sides stack well. New untreated ties are 8 inches by 8 inches; salvaged ties approximate that dimension but usually range from 7 to 9 inches in width and depth. Other common sizes are 4 inches by 6 inches, 6 inches by 6 inches and 6 inches by 8 inches. All of these timbers are 8 feet long.
Special Lengths Are Available
Timbers are available in special sizes. Some companies offer lengths up to 20 feet, although 8 feet is standard, and longer timbers may require special orders. Some suppliers use specific dimensions, such as 5-1/2 inches by 5-1/2 inches or 5-1/2 inches by 7-1/2 inches, rather than the more common "dimensional" references of 6 inches by 6 inches or 6 inches by 8 inches. Dimensional lumber is planed smooth, so a 4-inch by 4-inch timber is actually 3-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.