How to Design Your Garden Steps and Edges Like a Pro

Many gardens have different levels to be connected, even if only from the patio to the lawn. Ramps may be necessary if the garden is used by the elderly or wheelchair-bound, but for most families steps are the best and most practical solution. They can be extremely beautiful in construction and materials, with incidentals, such as pots or plants, completing the picture and making them a decorative feature in their own right.

It is important to gel the correct proportion of rise (the height of each step), depth and width of the step. Aim for shallow steps, with a minimum rise of 10cm/4in. and a minimum depth of the treads of 30cm/12 in. Make sure the steps are even and solid when finished, with the slightest tilt to ensure water drains off easily.

The material you choose for your steps should depend on the style of the house and garden and should lie in with oilier materials used in the construction of the garden. They can lie built from any of the materials listed for paths and driveways, plus a few additional options, such as railway sleepers and preservative-treated logs.

garden steps How to Design Your Garden Steps and Edges Like a Pro

Where steps lead down from a terrace they should be constructed of the same materials in order to look at one with it. Proportion is an important consideration. For example a narrow flight of steps leading up to a broad terrace would look odd when a wide sweeping flight of steps is ideal.

Design

When siting your steps it is important to consider their primary purpose. Are they simply fulfilling a practical need, for example, connecting the patio to the lawn, or are they to play a more decorative role? Whatever you decide influences their position, if they are mainly decorative, you may decide to follow the natural contours of the land so that they twist and turn. If, however, they are purely functional their position is more restricted.

The geography of the site also has a hearing on the most suitable shape for a flight of steps. In a sleep, craggy, seaside setting the steps may have to wind around rocky outcrops, while straight, wide, shallow steps can easily be accommodated in a garden set in gentle rolling countryside.

Formal or informal?

The style of your house and garden should also determine the style of your steps. In a formal garden, elegant curved, stone or brick steps, flanked by uniform pots filled with clipped box or bay look very stylish.

Certain materials lend themselves to particular settings. Stone paving slabs are completely appropriate in a formal garden, while informal, or contemporary gardens allow for much more experimentation. Old railway sleepers, for example, are sturdy and cheap and make excellent steps, especially if teamed with gravel as an infill. Preservative-treated logs are also suitable and look perfect in a wild or woodland setting . Wood becomes slippery when wet, but a sheet of chicken wire securely nailed over the logs or sleeper will solve this problem.

Edgings

To finish off and retain steps and paths an edging is needed. It may be nothing more than planks of wood laid on their sides or you can choose from a huge range of purpose-made edgings which make the job easier and look smart for a purely functional area that is lucked away in a corner, such as a kitchen garden, plastic or aluminium strips, or concrete edging are efficient but unattractive. A more pleasing alternative is to use bricks placed diagonally on end. These are decorative, easy to lay and look equally at home in rambling collage gardens and more formal settings. For a more natural look particularly suited to woodland gardens, use edgings of treated logs or large stones. Shells can fulfil the same function in seaside gardens, but can be damaged easily, to add an historical feel to your garden you might choose drawn wire edging or. If you need something more substantial, rope-top, fluted or scalloped Victorian-Style edging tiles. These more expensive edging materials are made in either terracotta or concrete and are available with little posts and finials for the corners.

Laid securely and with care all these edgings will enhance the look of your garden by helping to define different areas preventing gravel, earth and stones from spreading where they are not wanted and making mowing infinitely easier.


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