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How to Make Steps in a Garden Slope

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Dani Simmonds

It is peaceful and relaxing to walk through a beautiful, sloping flower garden. But without steps on a steep slope, it can feel more like a mountain hike than a stroll. Making the steps takes some time and some hard work but is well worth it when you're finished. Not only does it add character to your garden, it makes it easier to view the entire area. You might want to recruit a friend or two to help you out, and pick a dry weekend to get the work done.

Plan your steps by choosing a material that will blend in with your landscape. Wood looks most natural in the setting but may need to be replaced at some point, whereas slate or paving stones will last forever. If you choose wood, purchase pressure-treated boards, cut them to the width of the desired path and use a wood sealant on them before installation.

Starting at the bottom, ground level, go up about 3 inches and dig back the width of the material plus 10 inches. For instance, if using a 2-by-12 board, dig back 22 inches.

Slightly slope your riser back toward the next step, up 5 inches. Repeat digging for the next step and every step thereafter until you reach the top of your slope. Always dig out; do not fill in, or it may not be strong enough to hold the step. You want this to look as natural as possible, so perfect measuring is not necessary.

Cut the landscaping fabric to the width of the path and run it from the top to the bottom, forming it to each step. Have someone help you from the other side, and try not to walk on the dug-out steps yet. Cut plastic border in 10-inch strips, two for each step.

Place your first board or paver on the bottom step from the front. Place a piece of plastic boarder on each side from the step back (10 inches). Fill in the 10 inches with mulch. Repeat, moving up the steps.

Plant flower bushes or green bushes alongside the steps to keep the ground from eroding around them and to hide the plastic border.

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