When you’re planning the landscape of your yard or garden, consider adding a set of steps. You can use anything from round-cut logs to concrete, brick, or stone to create the look you want. Each material varies in difficulty, and also in the style the stairs will add to your landscape.
When planning the size of your steps, try to make them similar to indoor steps, particularly if they are in an area where you will use them often. The tread should measure about 10 inches from front to back, and each should rise about 7 and a half inches. Make sure that the treads are a little lower in the front of the step than in the back, or rain water may collect in your steps.
If you are using anything other than round logs to make your steps, be sure they have a good foundation. It should be in the ground about 6 inches below the frost line to make the steps stable.
Although concrete may not be the most attractive material for garden steps, it is often used. To make concrete steps, first you’ll need a form for pouring the concrete. These wooden boxes should be placed on top of each other, forming your stairway. Mix 1 part Portland cement, 3 parts sand, and 6 parts gravel, and then pour the cement into the form. The treads should be made level using the flat edge of a board.
Another way to make concrete steps is by using pre-formed concrete blocks. While you’ll still need a foundation, it is much easier to build a stairway from concrete blocks. Make sure that you bond the blocks together well. You may also want to consider coating the stairway with a thin layer of concrete to obtain a good appearance. Brick steps are made in the same way as concrete blocks, although they do require a little more masonry skill due to the many joints.
The main difficulty of constructing stone steps is finding the stone. While you may be fortunate enough to have stones available on your property or some stones left when you had the chance to work on patio landscaping, otherwise you’ll need to purchase them. This can make them an expensive choice, although they are also a very attractive and rustic way of building steps. If your stones are very large, you won’t need any masonry bonding. If the steps are freestanding, you’ll need to use mortar.
Wooden rounds cut from logs make beautiful steps, and they are easy to construct. Just set the bottom round into the earth. The next one should placed so that it partially covers the bottom log, leaving a riser. Fill in the ground under the upper round, and then repeat this step until your stairway is complete. This is also an excellent solution for a long slope that is slightly too steep for just a path. Logs can be set into the earth to provide occasional steps along the way.