Thirteen choices of garden steps

In constructing steps from house to garden or terrace to terrace, one of the first considerations is the tread and riser rela-tionship. There is a preferred relationship for every situation. If steps are built for a leisurely approach, for example, you’ll use one combination; if steps lead to a service area, you’ll use a different one. If you want steps that are ideally suited for chil-dren, you will cut down on the height of the risers.

Choose tread and riser combination that meets your needs. The two can be varied within combinations. No tread should be less than 11 inches wide.

Side pieces (called stringers) of 2 by 10-inch redwood are nailed to the wood treads of 2 by 4’s and set 1.5 inch apart. Space for the riser is left open.

Treated fir is used for the 2 by 12-inch stringer; cut the stringer to support the 2 by 6-inch risers and treads, each of which are spaced ½ to 1-inch apart.

Railroad ties are cut with a buck-saw or one-man crosscut saw; most measure 6 by 8 inches by 8 feet.

Logs of redwood or of cedar should be soaked in preservative before placing in ground. Treads can be planted ground cover of dichondra or arenaria.

And broad for ease in cutting. The riser can be made of wood, brick, or of cast concrete; the height of the step is 4 inches.

Treads are brick, risers are of wood. Use pipes or stakes for support, placing them apart about every three feet. Before laying bricks, tamp soil evenly.

Quarry tile treads have brick or cast concrete risers. In rainy climates, pitch the tile to the back so the water runs off; also place the rough side facing up.

Broken concrete pieces are stacked on top of one another for tread and riser. Can be laid dry or set in mortar. Use hammer to chip off pieces for fit.

Precast slabs are of exposed aggregate 4 by 20 by 48 inches. Each slab overlaps the one below to give 17-inch tread; 1 by 2 underneath gives a 5-inch riser.

Concrete steps have steel rein-forcing rods running through the center. The treads are 12 inches; they should be scored at the edge for safety feature.

Rounds of redwood or cedar are a good choice for a narrow stairway; are about 6 inches thick and 15 inches in diameter. First treat with a preservative.

Concrete blocks with hollow centers are laid alternately flat and on end so that the holes are exposed every other riser. Fill blocks on end with concrete.