Hardscapes sound exotic, but this term encompasses all of the various pathways, patios, and other non-living features that make up your property’s landscape. While many homeowners focus on projects built over flat and level ground, the slopes of your property also offer some great opportunities for hardscaping.
Outdoor stairs are a particularly eye-catching feature that can also greatly improve the functionality of your yard. Once you’ve learned why landscape stairs work so well, you’re sure to consider steps as your next hardscaping project.
1. Material Options
Unlike other hardscape features that work best when built from a specific material, outdoor stairs are fairly flexible. Many outdoor designers use landscaping timber to take advantage of the natural beauty of wood. If you don’t want to deal with replacing timber stairs every decade or so, stone and concrete offer greater durability and plenty of design options.
Some hardscaping materials make the installation of the stairs as quick as possible. Pre-cast concrete steps limit your design options, but the installers can complete the stairs within a few days. Concrete pavers and stone slabs still install quickly while giving you more control over the finished look and layout.
2. Erosion Control
Installing a set of stairs on a slope where you already walk up and down is a great way to prevent erosion from further damaging the slope. Foot traffic wears away the surface of a slope and encourages water to run down the same path. Covering that path with stairs stabilizes the ground and prevents soil loss.
Careful design of your outdoor stairs allows water to soak through the individual steps or landings. Many stairs built with landscaping timber include gravel filling in each step so that water can soak through the surface and into the ground. Even solid and impermeable stairs can control erosion and channel water away appropriately with some planning for drainage at the bottom of the steps.
3. Safe Access
Walking up and down a slope, even a slight one, poses a slip risk. Even young and healthy adults can easily twist an ankle or break a leg crossing slippery grass, mulch, or bare dirt. The risk is even higher for children and elderly family members. Large steps, high-traction materials, and low step heights all help you create a set of outdoor stairs that are safe for everyone to use.
Regain the use of a hard-to-reach part of your property by adding steps for faster and easier access. Many homeowners only use a fraction of their yard due to inaccessibility, so a set of steps can give you more space for gardening or outdoor recreation.
4. Minimal Mowing
Covering a sloped area with any kind of hardscaping installation, including a set of stairs, eliminates the need to mow over the area to control grass and weeds. Mowing uneven terrain is difficult and usually requires the use of a weed trimmer rather than a mower, adding a lot of extra time to your weekly lawn care chores.
Hardscaping a slope is not the only option for replacing grass on a slope, but stone or wood stairs require far less maintenance than a terraced flower bed or layer of mulch cover.
5. Planter Space
You can combine retaining walls, accessible stairs, and terraced planters all in one hardscape. Planters that run along the sides of the steps add color and life to the hard materials, creating a mixed look. To help a set of steps blend into your lawn, you can even grow grass inside of open-frame steps with a little extra care and attention.
Develop your hardscaping plans with our help here at Proturf Landscape Solutions.