New Garden Railway questions

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  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 19 posts
New Garden Railway questions
Posted by Extiger on Saturday, April 30, 2022 7:18 PM

We recently moved and have a nice size flower bed that I would like to add leftover LGB and new stuff to create a railroad in this new bed.  We are in Houston so we don't worry about frost heave and other such items.  The vision here is track and trains running thru the bed to the amusement of guests and grandchildern.  We are not creating an outside model railroad.

In order to get started on this adventure, there are some questions:

I seem to remember some years ago gray electrical PVC was used as roadbed for the track.  Is that still a good way to go?  The current mulch is typical shredded hardwood and the track is not very stable on it.

What about using zip ties to connect the track sections together?

What are the pros and cons of installing and using RC and batteries versus electrifing the rails?

Thanks in advance for your help and support.

  • Member since
    August 2021
  • 243 posts
Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Sunday, May 1, 2022 9:31 AM

Hello there!

I remember when I started with garden railroading, and there were so many methods published for making roadbed, it was very confusing. I haven't heard of the PVC method yet.Years ago, people were making a roadbed with treated lumber.

The method I use is weedblock down, and rock gravel on top.It's quick and easy.You would want rough edge gravel, not river rocks with smooth edges. The rough edge rocks will pack down and interlock, making a hard and packed surface. This will actually hold your track in place , no need for tie wraps ! 


  • Member since
    August 2021
  • 243 posts
Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Sunday, May 1, 2022 6:49 PM


 I run track power exclusively, and it works extremely well for my simple needs: just trains running laps around the track.It is dry here, and we have very few connectivity problems. Years back, many people went through the trouble to solder a jumper across every rail joint, but I haven't had the need here. Track power is the simplest operation for starting out.You could try it first, and then see if you find the need to go battery/ Rc. 
 Many others prefer battery operations, and may be able to advise on this.It would require some modifications to your engines.


  • Member since
    February 2013
  • 903 posts
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, May 2, 2022 3:02 AM



Welcome aboard!  Our track floats in a big raised bed garden.  The entire bed has 6" of gravel on the top, the circumstance of a miscommunication with our contractor that worked to our advantage.  This enabled a real "sandbox" approach that let us tinker with the track plan quite a bit.  We chronicled quite a bit of the railroad's first 2-3 years here Progress on the Triple O  (  It may prove helpful, as almost all of our stuff is old LGB, to include the track.


We, too, run track power.  Over the years, we have used rail clamps to improve connectivity.  We live in the tropics, though, so corrosion is a real thing!  Also, we buy them in packets to spread the cost, deploying them in the worst places.  Do note, depending on how many locos you have and how big your garden, it might be cheaper to convert to R/C with battery power.  For us, with a large "heritage fleet" of old locos tied to family and friends, the cost tilted in favor of track power and "strategic rail clamping." 



As for zip ties...No clue.  We tried those plastic track clips that come with LGB starter sets, and we found the ties started to split where those tracks connect.  Thermal expansion?  Torsional stresses from dogs / kids / me stepping on the track?  Applicable to what you want to do at all?  Not sure, but I'd try it on one section of track, let it sit for a couple months, and see what happens.

Battery power clearly eliminates any worry about how to hold the tracks togehter.  You may also wish to consider how you plan to use your railroad.  Folks that like to simulate real world operations swear by R/C.  I like to grill brats and have beverages arrive by train as guests mill about the yard.  Track power works great for how we use the railroad.  That being said, I am glad we have ONE battery powered loco, a PIKO "Clean Machine," for those days when the Electron Gremlins run rampant!


Have Fun!




Good Luck & ALoha!



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