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This post will give you a good idea on how to build garden steps using paving slabs and bricks for garden construction purposes. This may seem obvious to many but whether your planned garden steps are going up to a set of patio doors, or connecting down into a lower garden; steps need to be built of uniform height and width as variations in step dynamics can cause accidents as well as falls, as people can become wrong-footed.
An ideal garden step has a riser of 6”(150 mm) with a tread of 18 to 20” (450 to 525 mm), in calculating the run of steps up a garden bank. This will then give you the number of treads (steps) required to achieve the climb comfortably.  The next step is to measure the linear distance carefully for the set of steps i.
Divide this distance by the number of steps that you need (from the 1st calculation) – this will then give the tread length. Build the risers using two courses of brickwork on a concrete foundation, build-in cavity wall ties protruding from behind behind the riser, back-fill with concrete level with the top course of bricks. Using the spacer, build the next riser on the concrete back fill with the same method, you might have to work from the side of the step carcass to avoid treading on new work.
Proceed up working carefully and cleanly, when completed and gone hard, you can pave your step carcass with your preferred slabs of paving (for example, Indian stone; like as shown in both the images). Leave an overhang of 1 to 1.5” over the brick riser for the rain to drip over, stick the paving slabs down carefully with 3 to 1 soft sand-to-cement mix, with the paving falling slightly towards the front for drainage. These paving slabs need to be adhered to the carcass very well as a loose slab on a step is very dangerous! Point-in the paving as you build as the pointing mix will blend-in with the bed mortar whilst still wet.
Occasionally, if the site dynamics demand, steps will need taller risers than the standard 150 mm mentioned, as in the top picture – where the limitations and maths dictated that these risers had to be 175 mm. Also please note, that in terms of health and safety, a tailor-made handrail should be fitted to the steps. This entry was posted in Garden Construction and tagged English country garden, garden construction, garden steps, Landscaping on June 2, 2013 by Admin. I agree to Shutterstock's Website Terms, Privacy Policy, Licensing Terms and to receive emails that I can opt out of at any time.
All plans come as a Standard license, and can be upgraded to an Enhanced license at any time. Railway sleepers come in different sizes, the most popular size being 2.600 m long, 225mm wide and 125mm deep. Refer to our project on building garden steps for information on how to work out the size and number of steps required. There are two basic ways to fix your sleepers into place – you can either concrete them in or drive wooden stakes into the ground and fix the sleepers to the stakes. If you are using a concrete bed to fix your sleepers into place, dig a trench wide enough so that it extends slightly in front of and a good amount behind the sleeper. Lay the concrete underneath the sleeper, position the sleeper in place and add concrete in the space behind it.
If you plan to fix the sleepers into place using wooden stakes, then you need to dig out enough space for the sleeper, the stake and enough space behind the stake to fix it to the sleeper. Position the sleeper and drive a stake into the ground directly behind the sleeper, one at either end, a few centimetres in.
If your steps are deep, fill the space in between the sleepers with shingle, bark or chippings, and compact well so that it sits level with the top of the sleeper. It is a good idea to improve the grip of your sleeper steps as they can become quite slippery when damp. Cement finishing tools: finishing trowel, wood float, edger, darby, mixing box or power mixer, depending on the size of the job. It is important to mix and pour entire project at one time, thus producing a solid integral mass.
What will dictate the size of the steps that you make is the space available and the steepness of the slope. Steps in general should be at least 250 mm deep to provide the comfort necessary for an average person to walk comfortably.  The riser (the vertical part) should be about 190 mm. Making garden step does not require much work or special skills and can often be done effectively even with flagstones or other solid materials. Start by taking a measure of the total distance (horizontally) that the stairs will occupy from the top stair to the bottom (also known as the run).  Measure the total rise which can give you an indication of the total number of steps that you may need by considering each step to have a rise of 16 to 20 cm and the thread being of at least 30 cm deep.
The flagstones can be cut to shape using a handsaw and placed according to the design you prefer.

Garden steps make a very nice complementary addition to a landscape that has many levels.  It enhances the features and adds character. Landscaping your garden with steps offers ease of access but can also be used as an element of aesthetic. When building steps, the tread should be at least ? cm lower in the front than in the back to permit drainage. When using mortar, wipe of any split mortar on the stones while they are wet because when they dry it is a problem to get them off. Placing garden steps can help beautify the surrounding and make some area much more accessible.
The concern I have that is probably the most common mistake that people make when building garden steps is that they think because it is out in the garden, the formal structure of the steps doesn’t matter, well, nothing could be further from the truth. The reason that I feel so strongly about conforming your steps to a specification, is because a lot of the time you are working outside and carrying tools, buckets, debris etc. Steps are made from what is referred to as a tread and a riser, with the side pieces, if built from timber are called stringers, when the one piece of timber runs down the length of the steps and each tread is fixed to it. Styles of steps for the garden can vary as much as anything else but it’s important to fit them into your theme when building them. Bush steps which tends to use the stacked method are probable the easiest to build if using timber, it’s really a simple process of building the bottom set first and then stacking the next one on top and so on, if the first and bottom set is level and straight then the rest will really just fall into place. See this Picture and note that the riser and the two return for the tread that disappear into the ground is made up from sleepers or timber cut to 150mm (6”) x 100mm (4”).
These steps I laid the timber on its side giving it a very shallow rise and I put a curve on them just by making the next step side fixed on a shorter measurement than the opposite side. These steps are just free style coloured concrete, the client didn’t want any formality to them at all.
These steps of course are more formal, I did the planter boxes and the steps to suite with sawn sandstone treads. The main thing to remember what ever type of steps you are thinking about, make sure they blend in with the landscape theme that you want to achieve. Therefore, the number of steps needed is determined by dividing the total height to climb (you will need to get this spot-on) by the riser height (150 mm). Most people are okay with this height of step but care should be taken with the very young and elderly who might find these difficult.
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Our Standard license allows you to use images for anything, except large print runs over 500,000+ or for merchandising. Once you have downloaded your image, you have life-long rights to use it under the terms of the license purchased. Sleepers are available from a number of online retailers, and often from reclamation yards and large garden centres. This is the ideal size for garden steps although sleepers with a width of 300mm and a height of 150mm will do just as well.
If you are building wide steps with a sleeper at the front of each step and the back of the step filled in with shingle or chippings, you may want to line the steps with landscaping fabric so that you don’t get too many weeds coming through. The length of the stake depends on the ground, but they should be at least 300mm (12”) long. Make sure the top of the stake ends up a centimetre or two lower than the sleeper so that it can be covered with shingle or chippings if you are building deep steps. As an alternative you could also drill through the sleepers and use reinforcing steel bar (steel rods for reinforcing concrete) to drive through and fix them to the ground.
You can do this by cutting shallow tread lines into the surface, sticking a layer of grit to them, or tacking on a layer of chicken wire.
We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen. Concrete which has been moist-cured will be approximately 50% stronger than that exposed to dry air. Not only do we tell you what product you’ll need but we also offer directions and in many cases online video demonstrations. This may be because the yard is not totally levelled or even because the house is at a slight higher level than the ground.

The design of the steps can vary depending on the aspect that you would want and the features determining the surroundings. Dig a trench and big enough to accommodate the first wallstones making the length of the steps that you are building. The design possibilities are limitless and with a bit of imagination, a garden can really become transformed.
For the most part, garden steps should be made of the same dimension as indoor steps this in particular in areas that are frequently used. Stone steps are the most difficult not in technicality but in choosing the best stones to use. They can be made informal by placing wooden steps on long slopes where the need for actual steps in not that much of a necessity but the feature of the ground is too steep for walking.  Is such occasion, a ramp step can be constructed with the use of risers of flagstone, logs or squared timber.
Professional landscape designers – Landscape design packages and do it yourself landscape guides. When individual pieces are used they are just referred to as returns, these usually govern the size of the tread, which you want a minimum of 370mm approx.. Brick steps are quite common because of their durability but will stick out like a saw thumb if the rest of the theme is cottage style for example.
Just keep the same two measurements for the other steps and you will produce an even curve.
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If you are using reclaimed sleepers be aware that they will often be coated with a bitumen-based paint, which can easily mark surfaces.
If your steps are deep enough there should be space for you to move on and do the same for the next step up, and so on. If consideration has to be given to build garden steps then, there are many different types of steps. They can either be placed on concrete or wooden stakes can be used to hold the sleepers in place. If necessary and especially if the steps deep, fill the space behind with barks, shingle, or chippings and compact.
Whether it is for better access or for aesthetic, landscaping with garden steps  can also increase the value of your home while making it much more cosy and adapted for convenience. So choose a style that will blend in and that you are able to build with not too much hassle. The tread has to be then filled with a base type material that will firm up enough to step on safely. You are well able to play with this even producing an “S” shape or any shape you like just by adjusting the side return measurements.
Paint a wood preserver onto the ends of the timbers, and if you are using new untreated sleepers, paint the whole thing. If you think a wooden stake will be sufficient to hold the sleeper firmly in place, then you can go ahead and use this method. If your steps are just the width of the sleeper, you will need to either build them one at a time allowing for the concrete to dry, or use a different fixing method.
Solid rubble such as broken block or brick may be worked in, reducing the amount of concrete mix required. These two procedures help embed all particles of coarse stone or gravel slightly below the surface.
When the ground is soft or stony, using concrete is the best approach.  When using concrete, dig a trench big enough for the sleeper to fit having a little space in front and behind. Level the wallstones accordingly.  The top of the wallstone is where you should start digging into the hill and retrieve the sod to make a flat surface big enough to accommodate the first flagstone and the next wallstone.
For best results keep the trowel pressed flat, sweeping back and forth in an arc, each pass overlapping half of the previous pass.

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