How to Put Steps in Your Garden


Navigating the natural contours of your garden should be as seamless as the transition from indoor to outdoor living.

Building garden steps is not just a practical solution for easy access to the various levels of your garden; it’s a transformative endeavor that can elevate the overall functionality and aesthetic of your outdoor space.

Whether your garden is gently sloped or features a more dramatic incline, the creation of well-placed steps can guide the eye and the foot through the verdant tapestry of your backyard sanctuary, providing structure and flow.

The method of building these steps will vary, depending on the landscape’s scenario and the materials at hand, but the end goal is always the same: to create a harmonious and accessible garden environment.

With thoughtful planning and a touch of creativity, garden steps not only solve the logistical challenges of navigating slopes but also become a defining feature of your garden’s design, inviting exploration and enjoyment of every corner of your outdoor haven.

Planning Your Garden Steps

When envisioning your garden steps, it’s paramount to consider the lay of the land and the materials that will best complement your outdoor aesthetic. Bricks, concrete slabs, timber, gravel, and stones offer a palette of textures and colors to create a pathway that feels both organic and intentional. The choice of material will influence the design, with each option bringing its own charm and challenges, especially when working with the natural gradient and length of your garden’s slope.

Before breaking ground, it’s essential to mark out the intended path with builder’s lines and pegs. This visual guide not only helps in visualizing the final outcome but also serves as a reference for the crucial task of measuring the vertical height and horizontal distance of the slope. Calculating the number of treads and risers needed is the next step, setting the foundation for a set of steps that are as functional as they are beautiful.

Remember, the success of your garden steps begins with a well-thought-out plan that takes into account the unique topography of your outdoor space and your personal style.

Choosing the Right Materials

When it comes to selecting materials for your garden steps, the choices are as diverse as the gardens they will adorn.

For the environmentally conscious and budget-savvy gardener, upcycling old materials like recycled timber, concrete scraps, or leftover stone blocks can be a rewarding endeavor.

Not only does this approach save on costs, but it also adds a unique, rustic charm to your garden, with each repurposed piece telling its own story.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more uniform look or specific design features, pre-made materials such as wooden boards or railroad tie steps are readily available and can provide a quick and effective solution.

These materials come with the added advantage of being designed for outdoor use, often requiring less maintenance and offering long-term durability.

Whether you choose to go the sustainable route with upcycled materials or opt for the convenience of pre-made options, consider the aesthetic you want to achieve, the maintenance you’re willing to commit to, and the longevity you expect from your garden steps.

With the right materials, your garden steps will not only be a functional asset but also a standout feature that enhances the beauty of your outdoor living space.

Measuring and Calculating Step Dimensions

Getting the measurements right is the cornerstone of building garden steps that are both safe and comfortable to use. The tread-riser combinations chart is an invaluable tool for this task, offering a range of dimensions that work well together to create attractive and functional steps.

However, it’s not just about following a chart; adjustments may be necessary to cater to the specific conditions of your garden. For instance, if your garden has an atypical slope, you might need to tweak the standard measurements to ensure each step is neither too high nor too shallow.

A good rule of thumb for outdoor garden steps is to aim for a riser height of about 150mm, or 6 inches, which conveniently is the height of two standard bricks with mortar joints. This height is generally comfortable for most people to step up and down without strain.

When measuring, use a reliable tape measure and take into account the overall vertical height you need to traverse with your steps. Divide this by the ideal riser height to determine the number of steps required, and then plan the tread width accordingly to ensure a balanced and harmonious ascent or descent.

Remember, patience and precision in measuring and calculating will pay off in the usability and appeal of your garden steps, making them a joy to behold and traverse.

Constructing the Steps

Building the steps in your garden is an adventure in both construction and creativity. It all starts with a solid foundation: a concrete footing for the first riser sets the stage for what’s to come. This footing ensures that your steps have the stability to withstand the elements and the foot traffic of your garden explorations.

Upon this foundation, you’ll construct risers using bricks, meticulously aligning each one to ensure the integrity of the structure. Next, lay the slabs for the treads, the flat part where you’ll step, making sure each is level and properly aligned for a consistent and safe walking experience.

If your garden steps are freestanding next to a wall, stability becomes even more crucial. In this case, you’ll need to anchor the steps by ‘tooth in’ the bricks into the existing wall, creating a secure bond that will stand the test of time.

For those who prefer a more informal or natural look, alternative materials like logs can be used, adding a touch of whimsy and rustic charm to your garden. Each step you build is a step closer to transforming your outdoor space into a more accessible and inviting place for relaxation and enjoyment.

Adding Finishing Touches

The journey of crafting garden steps culminates with those personal flourishes that make the pathway distinctly yours. Infusing your steps with charm can be as simple as adding a brick trim or embellishing with mosaic tiles, creating a vibrant tapestry underfoot that reflects your personal style and enhances the garden’s character. These finishing touches are not just decorative; they serve to integrate the new structure seamlessly with the existing garden design, making the steps feel like they’ve always belonged.

For those with a penchant for grandeur, opting for professional-grade materials like large stone slabs can elevate the project to a new level of sophistication. While this choice might necessitate the expertise of a professional and the use of heavy machinery, the result is a durable and luxurious finish that can withstand the test of time and the elements. Whether you’re adding a whimsical detail or investing in a high-end material, these final touches are what transform functional garden steps into a stunning garden feature, completing the journey from mere necessity to landscape artistry.

Maintenance and Safety Considerations

Ensuring your garden steps remain safe and inviting over time requires a commitment to regular maintenance. It’s important to use materials that can stand up to the weather, like frost-resistant bricks, and to build steps that are a comfortable size, ideally at least 300mm deep and 600mm wide, with a maximum rise height of 200mm.

Over the seasons, keep an eye out for any loose bricks or slabs that could pose a tripping hazard, and re-secure them promptly. Additionally, steps can become slippery due to the growth of moss or algae, especially in shaded or damp areas of the garden.

To prevent accidents, it’s crucial to regularly clean the steps and remove any vegetation that might make them slick. If possible, consider installing handrails for added stability, particularly if the steps are steep or used by individuals with mobility challenges.

Remember, the safety and longevity of your garden steps largely depend on the care you take to maintain them, so don’t overlook this essential aspect of garden step construction and use.


As we’ve navigated the ins and outs of crafting garden steps, from the initial planning to the final touches, it’s clear that this project is much more than a simple construction task. It’s an opportunity to redefine the landscape of your garden and enhance its accessibility and appeal.

By carefully selecting materials, measuring dimensions, and constructing with care, you can transform a challenging slope into a series of elegant and practical steps.

Essential tools like tape measures, string lines, and spirit levels have guided us through this process, ensuring precision and safety every step of the way.

Now, with the knowledge and encouragement gleaned from this guide, you’re equipped to embark on your own garden step project with confidence. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a green-thumbed beginner, the path to a more beautiful and functional garden is at your feet.

It’s time to take that first step and watch as your outdoor space ascends to new heights.