Do you have a slope or hillside on your property that you just aren’t sure what to do with? Can you still build that dream patio if your back yard is sloped? Are you wondering how you can have a paver walkway installed in your steep front yard? Even a slight change in elevation where you want to put a walkway or a patio can impact the design of your landscape.
Because of the frequent challenges hills and slopes present to Southern California homeowners, steps (or stairs) are often used to comfortably transition between areas between walkways and patios.
Here are several walkway and paver patio step ideas that can help turn a sloping landscape into a useful and beautiful outdoor area.
Paver Walkways Steps
Walkways are an essential element to most landscapes. They are built to connect areas that will receive frequent foot traffic on your property where walking needs to be stable and safe for regular use. Many of these areas frequently have slopes:
Front & Backyard Walkways
One of the ideas for paver walkways steps that applies to most Southern California homes is creating a welcoming entrance to the front door of your home. Houses are often situated above the street level to direct water runoff away from the house. This means that for most homes, a front walkway needs at least a few steps. Most steps are six inches in height, so if you have a change in elevation of three feet from street level to your house you will probably need six steps.
Even if your front yard elevation is fairly flat, the backyard may also present significant grade challenges. Building paver walkways and connecting stairs can help to provide great transitions for your guests and family to safely traverse your steep terrain to the party in the backyard.
Steps provide stability when walking on otherwise uneven terrain, leveling off hillsides, which can help pedestrians avoid sliding down a literal slippery slope! Walkway staircases should also include walls and pillars, or even hand rails along the sides for clear boundaries and to enhance the visual appeal of the staircase. (Picture? The one below it has both lighting and walls/pillars)
Lighting: Safety and Beauty
Lighting can be one of the greatest ideas for paver walkway steps because they help illuminate the steps in the evenings, making them more noticeable for walking at night, and also very aesthetically pleasing. Step lighting is easy to install as well, so it’s a very economical addition to a landscape.
A Few Ideas for Patio Paver Stairs
Patios might not initially seem like an obvious place for adding steps, since patios are meant to be flat. However, all paved surfaces need to have a slight slope to help rain water run off of the surface and away from your home.
The typical slope for a patio, however, should not be more than a 1% slope (that’s about 1 1/4 inches per 10 feet). Any more than that and you will discover your patio table is noticeably tilted and meatballs might roll off your plate! So, what happens if you want to build your patio on an area that has a greater than 1% slope? You need to use steps.
Since the area on your property where a patio is being built needs to be level, the land needs to be leveled either by adding fill or removing excess dirt from the site. Adding one or two steps to the design could mean hauling several tons less dirt on or off the property during construction.
The careful inclusion of steps in a patio design that reflects the natural slope of the property could save piles of time and money in the construction process.
Not only could the steps help you save money, they can actually make the patio area feel more cozy and useful, by visually dividing the patio up into more natural sized “outdoor rooms” rather than one large area. One room can be the grilling and eating area, while a few steps down can lead into the pool or a semi-secluded fire pit.
Materials for Steps
- Bullnosed Pavers: These pavers have a rounded edge that faces out towards the end of the step. They are also commonly used for edges of pool decking since they have smooth edges.
- Pre-Cast Concrete Steps: These concrete steps come in various lengths that can be adapted to fit your design.
- Large Pavers: Some pavers come in larger sizes that are suitable for stair treads, however it is recommended to vary your paver material or color for your steps from that of the rest of your patio to help your eye more easily see the change in elevation, minimizing the risk of trips or falls.
- Retaining Wall Cap Stones: These cap stones are thin enough to be used as treads for a step and have a textured front face, unlike most pavers, since they are designed for use on the tops of walls.
Bringing Your Paver Patio & Walkway Steps to Life
With the proper planning and the right materials from a trusted landscape professional, you can make the “steps” necessary to build walkways and patios for your home that will be safe, useful, and beautiful for years to come.
Installing steps on your Southern California property is one of the landscape installations that require the most amount of planning and experience to successfully execute. It’s essential that you make sure you’re hiring a landscape contractor that is a great choice.
Here at Pacific Pavingstone, we’ve installed thousands and thousands of steps on properties in Los Angeles and surrounding communities. We would love a chance to show you how we could turn your troublesome slope into one of the coolest features of your property. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.