Landscaping steps are often mandatory when the ground elevation changes are too steep for a simple ramp. Ramps can become slippery when moist and if they are too steep could cause leg fatigue pretty quickly. Stairs can be constructed of many different materials and we will discuss a few in this piece.
If the change in height is perhaps only 2 feet or thereabouts the use of landscape paver stones works very well. Many of those stones are 4 inches in thickness and range from eight to eighteen inches long and eight inches deep. Begin by flattening the ground at lowest part of the steps. Lay your first course of stones flush with the adjoining grade and back fill them to the apex of the stones.
This will not only be the base of the new steps but will help anchor the courses of stones above. The subsequent set of stones will sit to the back of the lower set and just rest barely on the stones below it. Ensure the soil or stone you are using to back fill your stepping stones is closely packed so it can't sink later on and allow the steps to tip. Now back fill the second row of stones.
Install your third set of stones and so on till you reach the peak of the next level in your garden area. You have to make sure that the stones are tightly back filled on all sides. Plant some ground cover plants that are evergreen in nature and their root system will also help to hold the stones securely. With 8 in. Deep or wide stones your treads will be about seven and a half inches wide when finished. Though much narrower than a house step, they can simply be managed. Laying two rows of stones side-by-side can increase the tread width and depth to 14 inches – making them much more cosy to climb.
Another fairly easy landscape step can be constructed out of 6 inch by six in. Landscape PT timbers. You'll need a good chainsaw, a half in. Drill, a sledge hammer a level, shovel and a tape measure. Again starting at the lowest level or initial step, excavate the ground to accept a buried piece of the landscape timber. If there is to be more than two or three step this is important to hold a long step in place . You will bury a front and 2 side pieces alongside to provide a foundation of sorts for the steps.
If your stairs are going to be 3 feet wide, when the timbers are buried, it will measure 4 feet across. (3 feet for the front piece plus 6 inches for each side piece). Your side pieces should project back from the front of the stair at least two feet. Back fill these timbers and tamp the material in place . Now cut a bit of timber the full width of the stairs or four feet long.
Place the 4 foot piece on top of the buried timbers. Drill a hole into every one of the side timbers and one in the middle of the four foot piece to accept the 60 penny galvanized spikes. Using your sledge, drive a spike in each hole thus tying the lower timbers together. Install a short piece of timber on top of the two side pieces making it one level piece.
Back fill this assembly and your first step is done. Now cut another 4 foot piece of timber and after measuring back at least twelve inches for another step or tread. Place this timber across the step below that you just completed in the same fashion and nail it in place . Back fill each step and the add your more steps until you reach the height you need.
A pleasant touch is to leave the soil down within about 2 inches, install some landscape fabric and finish each step with coloured pea gravel. If you've got a great change in elevation, a regular pair of wood steps could be in order. My home set has a change in elevation of about 20 feet. I built a short set of three steps with a small 3 foot by six foot landing, a longer set of 14 treads, another bigger landing 6 feet by eight feet with a wood sitting bench and a last set of risers of fourteen more treads. Installing easy handrails and posts makes climbing easier and the sitting bench for two people side-by-side, complete with cup holders routed into the seat arm rests, makes a great place to sit on hot summers days in the shade and enjoy the piece and quiet of the garden areas. All materials for garden wood steps should be made from pressure treated lumber or other rot resistant material. Pete Your Friendly Building Inspector.