When living on country acreage, the challenge is to utilise (as much as possible) material from the property itself. This approach allows projects such as building garden steps to be completed on a very small budget and uses materials that would otherwise have to be disposed of. Plus it retains the character of the environment.
The property in question here is at the top of a very steep hill so most of the garden has been built on sloping areas. It has created a lot of challenges in the physical aspects of working the site and also issues of erosion and rocky soil.
This photo shows the area prior to the steps being built leading towards the house up a very steep and slippery rocky slope.
After some recent heavy rains an old timber bridge was washed down the creek on the property providing some old weathered railway sleepers as the basic material for building garden steps.
Each sleeper was cut into into three equal pieces using a chain saw, with each portion being about 600 mm (or 2 feet) long. The heavy weight of the timber helped greatly with the stability of the new steps. In some sections where the steps are more widely placed, reclaimed gravel was used to provide a non slip (and non muddy!) surface.
This picture shows the project underway.
Before starting, the area for the steps was measured and a rough plan was laid out using a string guide. The tools used were pick, shovel, measure and level.
The first step is always located at the bottom of the chosen site, digging into the slope using the height of the sleeper as the guide.
After the first step is positioned, dig into the slope again this time going back far enough to provide a step of about 1 metre (3 feet) from the front edge of the first sleeper.
About half way up the slope where a curve was required, multiple sleepers were used thus shortening the step.
The project was completed by one hard working woman in just two days, and this photo shows the finished job.
The plan is now to repeat the process in different areas.
Any materials to hand can be used, including bricks, rocks and other hardwood. The materials can make a real feature and provide a very cheap way to develop your garden.