One of the most functional ways to work with transitional levels of a landscape is through the use of steps. Simply put, steps allow for ease of access in settings that contain slope conditions. Besides their functional purpose, steps also help to provide definition of space and also aid in enhancing the aesthetic quality of an outdoor environment.
When determining the best way to incorporate steps into your landscape there are a few things to consider that an experience landscape designer can guide you through. For starters, what is the intended usage? Are the steps acting as a connection point between two or multiple spaces like an upper patio and a lower garden? Or are they part of a pathway that has a severe slope condition? It is also important to consider accessibility. Will the steps need to be a certain width based on the intended usage? Depending on configuration, it may be necessary to install a railing or a series of landings that in most cases are required by both the national and local building code regulations. As a precaution for safety it may be important to give consideration to add lighting to brighten one’s transitional experience of an outdoor environment.
Landscape steps are known to take on many forms in the outdoor environment. Some are traditional in form that have linear and squared edges, while others are more natural with irregular or curvilinear edges. No matter your personal preference, there are several types of material that can help you achieve the right look for your landscape. For example, the use of large natural slabs of stone either irregular or machine-cut, make for an attractive natural accent in an outdoor setting. Another popular material option would include segmental retaining wall block with pavers, which allow for installation flexibility to fit any landscape scenario. The application of stone or brick with mortar also provides eye catching character that enhances landscape aesthetics. When choosing the material selection for your steps it can be beneficial to draw upon materials used in the architecture of your home or included in the natural surrounding environment so that the installation maintains a cohesive fit to the property.
Besides functionality and material variety, steps in a landscape can also help to create a sense of space. Whether it’s a cascading array of natural slabs or a creatively fabricated layout of bluestone treads and veneer risers, the use of steps in a landscape can generate focal points of interest or elaborate transitional passages that enhance the experiential quality of an outdoor environment. When planning the location for steps, always be mindful of surface drainage and avoid situations that introduce water run-off to the step location as it can create icy conditions in the winter. For these considerations and others, always take advantage of contacting a landscaping company with a professional landscape designer to assist in making informed decisions when dealing with step construction in a landscape.