Plan and Prepare for Landscaping Stone Steps
Accenting your entryway, path, or backyard area with landscaping stone is most commonly done through the addition of steps. Stone steps are built for easy access up small slopes, an entryway on a hill, or going to an upper level through a retaining wall. Planning for your stone steps requires some time and research. Preparing the ground for the installation of the stone steps will also require some time and dirty work.
Step 1 - Planning for Your Landscaping Stone Steps
Choosing the best location, the best stones, and assembling your tools will help you in the long run for preparing and getting your stone steps in the ground.
Look over your area and choose the best spot. Make sure it is in a location that has good water drainage but is not too far out of the way of your path. Choose a flat, dressed stone to keep things uniform, but flat river rock, sandstone, or other forms of flat rock will make the installation much easier.
Step 2 - Stake Out Ground
Using a tape measure, measure the ground where the landscaping stone will go. Measure both the height and the width of your stone stairway—place stakes on each corner and in a line every few feet. Tie a string to the outside edge stake and thread down to the bottom to keep everything lined up. Landscape paint can also be used.
Step 3 - Dig Out Outline of Steps
Dig out the general outline of your steps with a flat shovel. Using a flat-bladed shovel will help you keep things straight rather than a round-tipped shovel, which will dig into the ground. Dig all the way around the area until you have cleared away the top layer of dirt from top to bottom.
Step 4 - Dig Out General Step Gradation
This is where you begin to see the outline of your steps. Starting at the bottom of your stone steps, dig out the first step shape. From the bottom step, measure up six to eight inches for a riser and shape it vertically. From that point, dig into the ground horizontally for 10 to 12 inches. This length will make it easy to walk on but not be so wide as to make it awkward while stepping up to the next stair. Follow this process up the side of the rise or hill until you reach the top of the landing.
Step 5 - Make Final Preparation
Use a hoe or small hand trowel and make the final outline of the steps. After the digging is done, use a hand compactor to stamp down the dirt to compact it tightly.