Add steps to your garden using this handy step-by-step guide. Whether you’re adding steps to a slope or adding free-standing steps, here’s all the info you need, plus a list of tools and materials required for the job.

Essential Kit:

  • Tape measure
  • String lines
  • Pegs
  • Shovel
  • Bricks
  • Slab
  • Mortar
  • Gravel
  • Concrete
  • Spirit level

There are two very popular ways to build garden steps:

One way is by building steps into a bank or slope.

  1. Begin by measuring the vertical height of the slope and mark it with two parallel string lines.
  2. Next, attach a string line at the top of the slope and hold it horizontally; measure the height and length of the flight.
  3. Divide the height measurement by 200 mm (8 in) to work out how many steps you’ll need, then divide the number of steps by the height to determine each step’s depth.
  4. Now set the lines across to mark the step.
  5. Dig the step shapes from the top of the flight, working downwards step by step.
  6. Once you have reached the bottom, dig a shallow trench and lay a concrete foundation. This strip of foundation will have to measure about 100 mm (4 in) thick and 300 mm (12 in) wide.
  7. Allow the foundation harden for 48 hours.
  8. Now lay two courses of bricks onto the concrete strip, and backfill with gravel.
  9. Apply mortar, using the trowel to the top of the brickwork, and position the first slab on the mortar bed
  10. Tamp down.
  11. Using a spirit level, check that the steps are level.
  12. Continue to build the second riser on the back edge of the first tread, backfill and lay the slab to form the second tread as in previous step.
  13. Repeat this process until you have reached the top of the flight.

The second way is through building free-standing steps.

  1. Firstly begin by determining the number of risers, through measuring the height of the flight and dividing it by 200 mm (8 in). The tread should measure 300 mm (12 in) in depth.
  2. Lay out some bricks on the lower level, so you can envisage how the flight will look.
  3. The flight will need a firm foundation to support the step and its risers, so lay a concrete slab of 100 mm (4 in).
  4. Now set up string lines across the slab and lay the first two courses of bricks.
  5. Next build the brickwork off the foundation slab within the perimeter wall to support the other risers in the flight. Fill the first riser with gravel and top it with a layer of fine concrete.
  6. Next build the other risers and the perimeter wall until the outline of the flight is complete and backfill behind the risers.
  7. Layer the slabs forming the steps and tamp them down.
  8. Check to see if it is level, by using a spirit level.

Helpful Tip:

The steps will need to be at least 300 mm (12 in) by 600 mm (2ft) in width. If you want the steps to be wide enough for two people walking side by side, then they’ll have to be 1.5m (5ft) in width The height of the rise will need to be at most 200 mm (8 in). Frost-resistant bricks are mostly used to build garden steps

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Image: iStock

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