Building New Garden Stairs to Back Yard

3 materials
Problem: Uneven rock steps to back yard creating a hazardous walking area. Also, wanted to hide/screen the propane tank.
Step 1: w: See below: We had an uneven and messy area at the back of our garage that was overgrown with weeds, piles of rocks and also a propane tank that needed to be screened from view. For years we just used uneven, big rocks as stairs, but due to our advancing age, we needed a more stable way to reach the path in the back yard at the bottom of the hill. We measured the area to determine how many steps it would take to reach from the back of the garage to the bottom of the small hill. We determined that we would only need four steps and a couple of landings to complete the project. We already had a lot of flat concrete blocks and landscaping blocks on hand to work with. Next, we enlisted the help of some family members and got started.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Before Looking down at uneven stair area
Before: Looking down at uneven stair area.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, View of uneven rocks and propane tank
View of uneven rocks and propane tank.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, View from bottom of the small hill
View from bottom of the small hill.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Another view of the uneven ground and rocks
Another view of the uneven ground and rocks.
Step 2: Below: First, we replaced the wooded post across the top of the step area with a new post to keep the different kind of rocks in the landscaping separated. Our ground is very heavy clay, so we avoided disturbing the bottom layers as much as possible and we tamped down the clay soil under each block, added sand for leveling, and tamped under each block again. We laid out the rectangle foundation row of landscape blocks for the raised flower bed in front of the gas tank and made it two rows high. We might make it higher later, if needed. Then we started on the steps. We determined that each step would be 4" high, which is the height of the flat concrete blocks (4"x8"x6"). We laid the first row (which is the bottom landing), three blocks wide (18").
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Raised bed and landing at bottom of steps
Raised bed and landing at bottom of steps.
Step 3: Below: We continued tamping, leveling, and placing blocks for the first three steps. Each block overlapped a few inches onto the block below. For a more pleasing effect, we curved each step slightly as we came up the hill.
Step 4: Below: Completed the fourth (top) step and made it twice as deep for a landing. Then we buried three more blocks for another small landing/stepping area. We also added a drainage pad and a row of landscaping blocks to the right of the steps. Notice the twin bed metal headboard and footboard that we found at a yard-sale to be installed as a screen between the raised bed and the gas tank.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Completed steps w stepping stones at bottom
Completed steps w/ stepping stones at bottom.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Landing at top arbor and landscaping rock
Landing at top, arbor and landscaping rock.
Step 5: Below: Completed project. Added another row of landscape blocks to raised bed and to the right side of steps. Will paint the back of the garage and plant flowers in the spring to screen the gas tank. We love the new steps and landscaping in our yard. Not only is it more safe, but beautiful as well. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas about our project.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs
Finished project from bottom.
building new garden stairs to back yard, stairs, Finished project from the top
Finished project from the top.

Suggested materials:

  • Flat concrete blocks   (We had them on hand.)
  • Landscaping blocks   (Already had them.)
  • 4X6 wooden post   (Purchased at lumber store-around $15.)

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