anyone garden on a steep slope? what about steps?

plantaholic(zone 8a AL)March 28, 2005

my 7 acre garden lies on a steep slope. some areas are so steep that its impossible to stand without holding on to some stable object. i cant really use wheelbarrows on the slope because they keep on sliding downhill. my dogs cant have balls becuase they roll downhill toward the road.

i actually like having a slope tho. its gives the garden character. however, i have lotsa garden visitors and worry about people falling. did i mention the rocky soil makes walking on the numerous paths almost perilous?

anyway, i have used wooden steps, excavated soil steps, log and rock steps, and even some wooden bridges/ramps throughout the garden. i was wondering how others have dealt with making steps in their garden. i would love to have rock masonry steps, but time and money (and personal skill LOL) are a major factor.

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You are right to be worried. I slipped and broke my ankle on the slope in my backyard, and it's not even very steep. That happened in the spring, and later in the summer my DH built some steps into the slope for me. He basically just built squares out of treated lumber and filled in with soil

This picture isn't very good, it was taken about a day after he built them and it all looks very rough. Later in the summer it greened out much better, but eventually I tore out the grass and replaced it with pine bark mulch which looks much neater.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 6:18PM
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Our property was already terraced with rock retaining walls but my partner built the steps from native rock which is plentiful in our environment. He also designed the hand rails of square tubular metal and had them built by a welder. He used a coffee can as a concrete mold at base of one of the rails to attach the rail to step. We feel the rails are essential for safety. We have hauled in a lot of soil to build up the lower areas of steep slopes and have made them into multi level gardens combining raised areas built with landscape timbers with the rock retaining walls. We have also seen this done in our area using landscape timber to create multi level areas on extremely steep slopes. You are invited to click on our Page link to see other steps in our gardens and how we have constructed our multi level areas. EP

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 31, 2005 at 7:23AM
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I built steps on my steep slope from concrete. Started at the bottom, built a form and worked my way up-first few were the hardest (getting wet concrete down a steep slope with no steps). I let each step cure 3 days then stacked the form on top and made the next one. I agree that a slope is more challenging but more interesting as well.Since building the steps I've built a waterfall and a few more retaining walls, one in the rip rap method (stacking bags of concrete and bracing with rebar). Terracing is one way to deal with a slope, but it's a lot of work. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 12:14PM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

I used large chunks of broken concrete salvaged from a nearby highway project (most were about 6" thick and sized at least 2 feet by ten or more inches) to build steps on my clay slope.

I dug a level patch the width and three times the depth of my bottom stairstep into the base of the hill. The concrete pieces I set here became the landing (the outer third) and the foundation for the first step (the remaining 2/3). When these were all level I shoveled about three inches of the local clay onto the inner 2/3 and pounded it firm before adding the next layer of concrete chunks, the first actual step and the foundation for the step above. I repeated this for each riser, so there is concrete support in the hillside for each successive riser. It took five steps to mount the hill -- the top step is twice the depth of the rest, to make a smooth transition to the paver pathway at the top of the hill.

Best of all, the whole thing was FREE!

I am less than five feet tall; I took a hint from another gardenweb post and used a tripod with a pulley attached at the top to maneuver these chunks, all of which were far too big for me to lift.

Does this make sense?


    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 4:28PM
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gimpytwice(5b ohio)

Here's what my daughter is starting to do with her slopes,Shae has quite a few areas to do but I told her to take her time,mines always a garden in progress....

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 8:40PM
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plantaholic(zone 8a AL)

thanks for all the input and ideas.

i wouldnt trade by steep slope for flat terrain anyday.....well, most days. LOL

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 3:10PM
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