Garden Steps – A Solution For Slopes

by Rachel Laurendeau on November 30, 2012

Slopes in a yard, garden or pathway offer visual interest but they can sometimes be tricky to properly landscape. Adding steps or sloped walkways can help you address the changes in levels in your garden, connect different levels or areas and, they make a beautiful addition to the space.

1. Keeping your steps simple will help ensure that people do not lose their footing and that they do not distract from the rest of the landscaping and garden.

2. When designing the garden stairs or walkway, consider that they are part of the garden and are a design element to improve the look of the yard; they are more than just a utilitarian path or stairs.

3. Interesting materials for walkways include: gravel, pea gravel, small diameter river rock, flagstone and paving stones. Steps can be made of poured concrete, flagstone, paving stones, and limestone slabs, amongst other materials.

4. The scale for outdoor stairs is different than for indoors. The riser (vertical face) should be a maximum of 6 inches high and the tread (horizontal surface) should be a minimum of 12 inches to ensure safe and comfortable footing. Do not hesitate to have deeper treads if space allows and if it suits the scale of your garden, but remember that as the depth of the tread increases, the height of the riser decreases, making the stairs gentler in their slope. The scale of the garden should also determine the width of the steps or walkway.

5. Make sure there is adequate drainage and that each step is slightly angled to avoid pooling water on rock or concrete surfaces.

6. In addition to the steps, when working with a sloped yard, you may need to build a few retaining walls around your garden beds to hold everything in place and prevent erosion. Limestone slabs and wall stone are ideal for creating retaining walls and garden features.

Make narrow, slippery, muddy paths a thing of the past by building garden steps in your garden. You can build them yourself as a DIY home improvement project or hire a professional landscaper to design and build them for you. Styles range from modern to earthy and traditional depending on the materials you use and the design of the stairs.

Resources: Gardens Illustrated

Related posts: Flagstone Paths and Walkways, Elements of Japanese Garden

Don’t forget to tell us what challenges you have faced in your yard and how you have addressed them. We love reading your comments, tips and suggestions.

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