Walking slight uphill in your garden is not a big deal unless your garden is wet and slippery from rain or snow. What’s more, adding garden steps also adds a bit of aesthetic value to your garden.
Once you’ve decided to build garden steps, the DIY options available on the internet can be overwhelming. To your rescue, we’ve prepared a detailed step-by-step guide for you. Let’s discuss 8 steps to build garden steps, shall we?
Tools for Outdoor Garden Steps/Stairs Building
Firstly, let’s look at some of the supplies you will need for this project. Remember that it’s your garden, and if you prefer other designs or materials besides these, you can absolutely tweak this supply list.
- Wood posts/ concrete or stone blocks/ bricks
- Measuring tape
- Woodworking supplies such as brackets, screws, spikes, drill, saw, etc. (In case you want to build wooden garden steps)
- Stone/ concrete/ bricks adhesive (If you want to build stone/ concrete/ bricks garden steps)
Step by Step Guide for Garden Steps/Stairs Building
As we now know what supplies and tools, we need for making garden steps, let’s dive deeper into the garden steps making process, shall we?
Step 1: How do you want your garden steps to look?
If you are unaware, you’ll have many options to choose from, when it comes to garden steps. Do you want your garden steps to match the red bricks of your home?
Or, you might want to give that earthy and outdoor vibe using timber in your garden steps? If you want your garden steps to look fancy yet rustic, there’s an option for you as well. Use some concrete or stone blocks!
You might have got a vision in your head already! If not, what are we here for? Let’s discuss some more on these options such that you’ll be able to decide what supplies you want to use for building your garden steps.
- Wooden frames/logs:
Nobody can deny the fact that garden steps made using wood planks and logs look absolutely authentic and rustic. One easy and cheap way to make wooden frames is to use railway sleepers to make wooden frames for your steps.
However, the downside of having wooden garden steps is that it can be quite slippery when it’s wet. Moreover, wooden frames used outdoor tend to rot as a result of moisture.
But, if you can maintain your garden regularly and ensure a proper drainage system below the steps, wooden garden steps will last you years.
- Concrete or stone blocks:
Stones are very hard-wearing. However, if you’re considering to make stone steps in your garden, remember that the thickness of the stone will affect your riser height. Else, you can also use stone risers and fill the steps with gravel instead.
Likewise, concrete blocks can also be used as risers. Remember to add concrete or stone adhesive to your supply list if you’ve decided to work with concrete/stone blocks.
Another popular garden step material is brick. You can choose either red or yellow brick to build your garden steps. What’s more, if your home features red or yellow bricks on the exterior, you can even match your garden steps accordingly. How cool is that?
As in the case of concrete/stone, you’ll need some sort of adhesive to fix the bricks. So, keep that in mind before you shop.
Step 2: Determine the number of steps you require and their dimensions
Now that you can finally visualize how you want your garden steps to look, let’s get on to some elbow greasing work, shall we?
First and foremost, you shall determine the number of steps you want to build. For that, you must measure your slope height. If the slope is not very steep, you can easily measure the height using a thread or a string.
Fix one end of the string on the highest point of the slope using a stone and stretch the string straight until you reach the point where you want your garden steps to begin. Once you’re there, measure the height from the ground to the string, and you shall get your slope height.
If your garden is very steep, we recommend watching this YouTube video to find your slope height. Now, remember that the rise of each garden step, generally, must not be greater than 15 cm.
As garden steps do not have a railing and are expected to be comfortable to walk, keeping your step riser around 10-12 cm will be an ideal decision. Finally, when you divide the total slope height by your preferable riser height, you shall get the total number of steps.
Likewise, garden steps treads must be spacious, such that getting up and down is easier. You shall normally require a few steps in your garden and will be able to figure out the tread size once you know how many steps you have to make.
However, if the area you’re covering is large, divide the length of the slope with the number of stairs to find out an estimate tread size for you. Generally, minimum tread depth for garden steps is considered 30 cm.
Step 3: Excavate the area properly
Remove any big stones or weeds at the area. If the soil on the area is tough, you might want to water prior to making steps such that you’ll have no difficulty while shaping your garden steps.
Step 4: Start levelling from the bottom
Now that you have all the dimensions on hand, you can start digging. Starting from the bottom, dig out the excess and level the bottom step. Remember not to throw the sand away immediately as you might need it to fill the frames later.
Step 5: Fix the riser in position
If you’ve decided to make wooden steps, you will have to make a frame first. Attach three wooden posts or sleepers using brackets and screws to create a frame of your desired size. For your first step, it is always better to add a foundation.
Dig a small trench for the wooden frame and fix the first frame in position. If you’re using concrete/ stone blocks or bricks as risers, setting a layer of concrete below the ground as a foundation and adding the riser blocks on top of that will probably be the best way to go.
Step 6: Fill the step
Some might prefer leaving the steps sand-filled. However, doing so will make the steps slippery and risky. Moreover, sand is notorious for running along with water when it rains. So, we’d recommend you to at least finish it off by filling some gravel onto the steps.
Even if you add some gravel to fill the steps, they tend to settle down with time, and you might find yourself refilling the steps now and then. Gravels also tend to stick in your shoes and not very comfortable to walk in.
The best way to go might be using concrete or paving slabs to finish the garden steps. The coarse texture of concrete and paving slabs will be perfect for such outdoor steps, and you shan’t worry about rotting of woods either.
Step 7: Complete the remaining steps
Now, level and build the remaining steps accordingly. Remember that garden steps don’t always have to be in a straight line. Study the area in your garden and make the wooden frames accordingly. In case of other options, you can follow an appropriate curvature while fixing the risers.
By following the guidelines mentioned above, you’ll likely be able to build your garden steps on your own. However, here are a few tips that you shall be informed of prior to building the garden steps.
1. Consider the thickness of risers
Remember that the riser you choose and their thickness will alter the rise of the steps. So, choose the thickness of your risers that best matches your estimate step height.
2. Check the level of the steps
After fixing risers and levelling each step, don’t forget to check using a level. Slanted steps are very risky to walk, especially in an outdoor setting.
3. Consider a weed barrier
Before filling the steps, you might want to add a layer of weed control fabric. If you’re not planning to add paving slabs or concrete tops to your steps, we’d say a wood barrier is a must.
4. Get help from the experts
Building garden steps is a physically demanding task. So, if your body is not in excellent condition, you might want to take professional help instead.
With garden steps, you’ll not only be preventing yourself and your family from slipping and getting hurt on rainy and snowy days, but you’ll also be adding elevating the beauty of your garden.
We’ve provided you with almost all the details that you might need before starting on this project. Nevertheless, if you’ve got any queries, we’re just a comment away!