One concern I have and it’s probably the most common mistake that people make and that is when building garden steps some people think because they are out in the garden, the specifications for steps doesn’t matter, well, nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason it’s a concern is because a lot of the time you are working outside and carrying tools, buckets, debris etc. and are not always looking when walking up or down these steps.  What we don’t realise is that from the very first step taken whether up or down our brain has recorded the measurement of how high the tread is and immediately prepares the body for the next step, if that step has a different riser measurement then it becomes confusing.

Let me explain… 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. 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.. (12½”).  Risers you really want to stay at a height of about 150mm – 165mm (6” – 6½”) This will conform with the standard building code that will be safe for everyone to walk up and down.

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. 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. So choose a style that first will blend in and second, that you are able to build with not too much hassle.

 

brick steps

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.

Brick steps like these are quite common and we have done a few sets, it’s mainly because of their durability and the fact that you can match them with the house bricks or even do a complete contrast that suites. they will however stick out like a saw thumb if the rest of the theme is country or cottage style for example. So choose a style that will blend in and that you are able to build with not too much hassle.

They are relatively easy to build as the risers are just two beds of bricks which brings them to the specified height and the tread can be made as large as you like just setting the bricks on a cement bed and tamping them down to the correct height. keeping an eye on the overall level ensuring the any rain water will fall off to the front of the step.

Pre-cast concrete steps set on bricks

These two sets of steps are still basically brick but one with the concrete cast that is made to suite a riser height of two beds of brick and the other we built with the flower gardens on the side of an entry but used sandstone slabs made to size, makes a beautiful entry to the front door but can be a little costly. 

Brick steps with a sandstone slab as the tread.

These of course are the basic form of steps, easy to build and will suite any back yard or garden. the whole construction works off the bottom step where the side returns are cut into any bank providing they disappear in length they will look good. they have to be level in every direction. if you intend however to infill the tread with pavers of a masonry product of sorts then it will be best to have a slight fall out to the front for water runoff.

The timber sleepers is 150mm (6″) so you can see that it’s already conforming without any ripping or cutting the timber down.

Timber sleeper steps
Sleepers used a steps laid flat

These timber steps are built using sleepers but they are laid flat, we achieve the curve simply by making the right side return shorter than the left, then repeat the same measurement for each step. You can lay two or three before fixing them to each other and by doing this you will get an idea of where the curve will end up and finish.

These steps are great for very shallow banks that you don’t want to just walk down, keeping the garden traffic confined to where you want them to go, plants either side will also help define it as the path you want everyone to take.

 

brick steps with brick pavers set on top for the treads

These two sets of steps are built still using bricks but have pavers as a tread, these treads can still vary in size and the shape of the steps can angle in as they get to the top. the main thing to consider is of course the riser height. The most important thing is to keep each one the same and to stay within the limits and all will be fine.

More brick and paver steps.