DIY (Do It Yourself) Guide – Building Garden Steps

Making Your Garden More Accessible By Building Garden Steps

The setting of garden may require that you build some steps. This may be because the yard is not totally levelled or even because the house is at a slight higher level than the ground. If consideration has to be given to build garden steps then, there are many different types of steps. Pavers, wood, flagstones, concrete are all materials to give consideration.

building stepsWhat will dictate the size of the steps that you make is the space available and the steepness of the slope. The design of the steps can vary depending on the aspect that you would want and the features determining the surroundings.

Steps in general should be at least 250 mm deep to provide the comfort necessary for an average person to walk comfortably.  The riser (the vertical part) should be about 190 mm. the height of the riser will depend on the material being used.

Garden Railway Sleepers

Start by marking the ground where the steps are going to be built. The sleepers can be fixed to the ground in two different methods. They can either be placed on concrete or wooden stakes can be used to hold the sleepers in place. When the ground is soft or stony, using concrete is the best approach.  When using concrete, dig a trench big enough for the sleeper to fit having a little space in front and behind. The concrete mixture has to be about 50 to 100 mm deep.  After having placed the concrete base, lay the sleeper and add concrete in the space behind.  Make use of a leveller to ascertain that the sleeper is levelled. Build each step using the same procedure gradually.

When you are using wooden stakes, they have to be at least 300mm long. You will have to dig enough space to accommodate the sleepers and the wooden stakes behind.  Place the wooden stakes on both sides to support the sleepers and make certain that they are levelled.  The top of the stakes should be about a centimetre below the sleeper. If necessary and especially if the steps deep, fill the space behind with barks, shingle, or chippings and compact. Repeat for each steps gradually.

Building garden steps with flagstones

building stone stepsMaking garden step does not require much work or special skills and can often be done effectively even with flagstones or other solid materials. Informal rustic stairs can be made as garden paths where the landscape as a small slope.

Start by taking a measure of the total distance (horizontally) that the stairs will occupy from the top stair to the bottom (also known as the run).  Measure the total rise which can give you an indication of the total number of steps that you may need by considering each step to have a rise of 16 to 20 cm and the thread being of at least 30 cm deep.

Beside the flagstones, you will also need to have wallstones that will make up the rise.  The wallstone have to be of appropriate height for your rise and the flagstone will have to be at least 5 cm thick.  Beside the stones, you will also need to have gravel.  If you have made a sketch depicting the total rise and the number of steps that may be required; you should have no problem obtaining the material in the desired quantity from a local stone dealer. You should always obtain a little bit more than is necessary as it might always be of use.

Start building your steps from the bottom working your way up. Dig a trench and big enough to accommodate the first wallstones making the length of the steps that you are building. The trench should be at least 2 cm deep. Level the wallstones accordingly.  The top of the wallstone is where you should start digging into the hill and retrieve the sod to make a flat surface big enough to accommodate the first flagstone and the next wallstone. Pick large flagstones to set in place. The weight of the stones should keep them in place.

stone stepsThe flagstones can be cut to shape using a handsaw and placed according to the design you prefer. Use a mortar mix to seal cracks and make the whole structure a lot more stable. Make certain that you level accordingly.

Garden steps make a very nice complementary addition to a landscape that has many levels.  It enhances the features and adds character. The design possibilities are limitless and with a bit of imagination, a garden can really become transformed.

Tips and advice on building garden steps

Landscaping your garden with steps offers ease of access but can also be used as an element of aesthetic. For the most part, garden steps should be made of the same dimension as indoor steps this in particular in areas that are frequently used.

  • When building steps, the tread should be at least ¼ cm lower in the front than in the back to permit drainage.
  • With the exception of steps made of log a very good foundation is necessary and should extend at least 6 cm below the frost line
  • Blocks should be bonded well together. Stone steps are the most difficult not in technicality but in choosing the best stones to use.
  • When using mortar, wipe of any split mortar on the stones while they are wet because when they dry it is a problem to get them off.
  • On very long slopes, informal wooden steps can be used. they may also provide a very nice appeal mixing with the surrounding and does not require much work

Garden steps can be built using different types of materials. They can be made informal by placing wooden steps on long slopes where the need for actual steps in not that much of a necessity but the feature of the ground is too steep for walking.  Is such occasion, a ramp step can be constructed with the use of risers of flagstone, logs or squared timber.

Placing garden steps can help beautify the surrounding and make some area much more accessible. Steps also can be used for enhancing features of the garden by offering different levels. Whether it is for better access or for aesthetic, landscaping with garden steps  can also increase the value of your home while making it much more cosy and adapted for convenience.

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