Cinder blocks for stairs?

ltecato(9)August 19, 2008

Hi all. I'm gardening on a rather steep dirt/clay slope of at least 45 degrees, maybe more, that is hard in some places and crumbly in others.

There's one particularly crumbly and treacherous area that I'd like to plant, but it's so loose that every time I try to get a few feet above flat ground I end up having to slide down on my butt.

It so happens that someone left about four unused cinder blocks on the property, and I've been thinking about trying to make steps out of them. Is this feasible and how would I go about it?

So far my only idea is to dig them into the slope and use re-bar pounded into the dirt to brace them.

These steps would only be for myself to use for getting access to areas I want to plant and maintain. They don't have to be pretty or safe for any idiot, drunk or child to climb on.

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I was hoping someone would answer your question since I would like to know too. I don't feel qualified to answer.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 5:38PM
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In case anyone is still visiting this forum, I thought I'd provide this minor update. I still haven't tried to install any steps. My first idea of using rebar to hold the blocks in place is still an option, I believe, but another thought was that I could bury the blocks vertically in the slope (i.e., pointing straight down like a plumb line) with only a flat surface sticking out to use as a step. A variation on that idea would be to install the blocks so they're inserted perpendicular to the slope, with some level flat surface exposed.

Problem with both ideas: I'm not sure they'd be sturdy enough to bear the weight of a grown man.

Anyway, I'm going to have to engineer some kind of footholds because I've decided to do more work on this hillside. I'll either be turning a dirt gully into a dry stream bed or creating terraces... or something else I haven't thought of yet.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 3:02PM
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grolikecrazy(6-7 UT)

I've been thinking about cinder blocks to use for walls against a ditch side to separate my compost area,mulch area and wood pile area, since they're the cheapest and easiest to set up with cement/ grout between blocks(and rebars).
But if I were you, I would use the cinder blocks sunk in as you said, with their longer side on the surface with some flatish rocks(must dig enough to sink and only expose their flattest side) to give depth and width to your steps, make them wider and prettier, love the look of mixed aggregates in the cement, plus it prevents sippling, a bag of mixed cement doesn't cost very much $4.80 or something, rocks you can find around your property , maybe. I would still use a couple of rebars to make a sure footing of your cinder block that is anchoring everything else in place. Chris

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 2:11PM
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I to have a hillside garden in progress the blocks sound good but what is rebar

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 5:09PM
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Hi Pete. I think "re-bar" is short for "reinforcing bar." It's made of steel and used in construction projects to reinforce concrete. The pieces I'm using are about as thick as a finger and two to three feet long.

Update on project: I've solved most of hill-climbing problem by building three terraces in the most unstable area. This part of the slope was heavily eroded, almost like a gully or miniature canyon.

To build the terraces, I laid crude retaining walls across the slope, using salvaged rocks, broken concrete and even a few pieces of discarded asphalt from demolished parking lots and roads. Terraces are close enough for me to use as stairs, though a shorter person might have trouble doing so.

Also I went ahead and made some steps out of cinder blocks. I put these in front of a couple of lower terraces so that it would be easier to walk up the slope. And I did drive re-bar into the ground in front of them. I used two re-bars per cinder block.

I posted a few pictures in the garden design forum a few weeks ago. Note that these were taken before I added the re-bar to brace the cinder blocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures in design forum

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:12PM
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I have a slope off the back of my house. There are steps made out of cinderblocks, one set I have to fix since they have shifted out of the ground. I really hope to get a handle on this as half the property is over a hill. Hey, this is the Appalachians.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 4:21PM
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