Garden Build

Slopes in your garden can be a bit of a safety hazard at times so why not put down some steps and make life easier for yourself. Joyce Russell will show you how to do it.

Material & Tools

The materials will vary according to the size of your steps, but for these ones you need two posts per step and a board of the width that you want the steps to be. I used reclaimed oak for my steps: this is hard, slow to rot, and it has an aged look.

Durable timbers such as chestnut or larch are other options, as are pressure processed timber, old railway ties etc. You will need to survey the site in order to decide the number of steps to fit into the slope.

build garden

You will need: the posts are 5cm square and 45cm long, with a pointed end, the boards (risers) are 5cm x 15cm x 75cm, 70mm x 5mm stainless steel helix, splinterings or suitable fill material, scraps of timber, strong digging tools (hack, shovel,  etc.), a straight crowbar, a lump hammer or sledgehammer, scale, drill, 5.5mm and 4mm drill bits, turn-screw, rope, roulette.

Steps

Stage 1: Orb and Hold Your Nerve

So you are going to do this, but first you need to get a rough idea of what you went. Decide where the steps will start and where they will end.

Lay a straight piece of scrap timber (or pipe, or cardboard strip) to mark roughly where you think each step should go. Imagine the scrap timber is the front edge of the step. Do you want a curve in the flight of steps, or will they run straight? This is the point where your design decisions are made so don’t rush it.

Stage 2: Survey The Site

You need to know the difference in height from the top step to the bottom. This can be done by holding a straight length, of timber (or a tight level string) so one end is held firm, at the highest point, and the other is held level above the lowest point. Measure the difference in height from ground to timber. Divide this figure by the width of the boards you will use: this will tell how many steps of that size you can fit in. Choose your step height carefully so it isn’t too high to step up.

Now you can use the same principle to mark where the front of each step will go. You can use a long level if you have one, or a piece of timber with a level on top. Measure 15cm up from the ground – where the level, or timber, hits against the slope is where the next step will go. Adjust the markers, laid at stage 1, to reflect this more accurate positioning. Stand back and look you can still decide to move steps closer, or further apart, to get what you want.

If you have some questions – here interesting tips from Popular Mechanics, we hope it will help.

Stage 3: Pegs and String

You are going to dig soon, so you need to make a laying-out system that won’t be dislodged. Bump  canes into the ground about 30cm out from each end of the labels laid on the ground. The canes should be beyond the area where you are going to dig and will allow you to eyeball at any point and see if you are digging straight. Stretch string between the sticks if it helps you to dig to a neater edge.

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