Designing steps or stairs into the landscape
If you have a landscape that has areas of different levels don’t spend a lot of money grading it into a flat or even area unless you have a reason for doing so — like using it for a playing field. Instead, use the different heights to design steps or stairs in the garden. The transition from one level to the next can not only allow you to make different ‘rooms’ in your landscape, but create artistic effects in your garden.
Small transitions can be handled with decorative steps made of slabs of stone, chunks of wood or facing with interesting metal mesh materials or recycled building materials. Longer rises can become canvases for painting curved or meandering stairways. Re-use broken concrete, natural materials or permeable paving to create an informal design. Or pour concrete, carved stone or cast blocks to build a crafted set of steps. Use straight lines or geometric forms to create a contemporary or formal look.
If you want to design an artistic feel you can include stepping stones that are painted, sculpted or inlaid. Or you can put together different paving blocks, bricks, cast cement forms, stones, colored gravel or other materials to create your own mosaic design. Another way to create effects is to outline one material with another or fill the flat part of the step with one building material and the rises in another, contrasting material.
If anyone in your family has physical problems or you plan to remain in your home as you age you might want to consider using ramps rather than steps for ease of passage. Or you can build both steps and ramps to allow for a choice of passage. Ramps are also helpful in any area you might want to use a wheeled vehicle whether it be a bicycle, a wheelchair or a wheelbarrow.
So take a look at your property. You can turn different levels in the landscape into an artistic and practical way to design steps or stairs into your garden. With a little creativity hills and uneven ground can become an asset instead of a liability in your landscape design.
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