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Making steps using sleepers - advice please.

Discussion in 'Garden Projects and DIY' started by Trunky, May 19, 2019.

  1. Trunky

    Trunky ...who nose about gardening

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    I've been given some sleeper offcuts and I'm planning to use them to make a short set of steps from the gate at the bottom of our garden, leading down a fairly steep grassy bank. The following photos show the gateway and bank to give you an idea of the area involved.

    DSC00763.JPG

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    DSC00764.JPG

    I've got three offcuts, just about the right width for the gateway, of 10 x 5 inch (250 x 125 mm) sleepers. The slope from gateway to the bottom of the bank measures 240cm, so I'm thinking that divides nicely into three, at a spacing of 80cm.

    My thinking is to start at the bottom, with the top of the first sleeper level with the top of the neighbour's retaining wall and then space the other two 80cm and 160cm up from there.

    Given that my DIY skills are average to put it mildly, I need advice on how to construct the steps.

    How do I fix the sleepers in place?

    Do I need something each side to prevent soil slipping across the steps?

    It doesn't have to be anything fancy - me and Mrs Trunky are the only ones who use that gateway regularly, just so long as it's stable and safe to use.

    All suggestions and advice gratefully received.
     
  2. Scrungee

    Scrungee Well known for it

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    I studied step design (in stairs and paths) as part of my training many years ago, and can remember that multiple small steps should be avoided, better (less chance of tripping) to have a lesser amount of ones at a comfortable heights, and either have them close together (a foot space apart) as a flight, or at least a pace apart. I'm sure there used to be guidance with sketches and diagrams.

    I assume if it works better, you could incorporate a slight dogleg or curve, to extend the length of path/amount of fall, so the lower end would be slightly away from your neighbour's retaining wall.

    Constructional details are probably on the 'paving expert' website.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  3. mazambo

    mazambo Super Gardener

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    @Trunky i understand where your coming from with "nothing fancy" in my opinion whatever design you choose will require the bedding in of the sleepers on a solid foundation, firstly to save you doing the job again and as importantly to be safe, easiest way possibly cheap threaded bar hammered into the sleepers then set into a bed of concrete, just a thought.
     
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    • Redwing

      Redwing Wild Gardener

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      We’ve made sleeper steps and Mr Redwing used two lengths of angle iron screwed into the back of each sleeper and sunk about 12-18” into the ground. The angle iron was a couple of inches short of the top of the sleeper so it isn’t visible. It’s nice and stable and has worked well.
       
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      • Graham B

        Graham B Gardener

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        As a walker, I see steps like that on a regular basis. In the hills, they're usually not set into concrete. Normally you'll see either wooden posts or rebar hammered into the ground in front of the sleepers to hold back the weight of soil.
         
      • Eden1

        Eden1 Gardener

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        This stair calculator is useful for working out how many steps and how high each one needs to be.

        Stair Calculator
         
      • Trunky

        Trunky ...who nose about gardening

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        Well, three months after posting this thread, I finally got the job done! Many thanks for all your helpful suggestions folks.

        In the end I decided to go with the method suggested by @Redwing and fix each sleeper to two pieces of angle iron as it seemed like the simplest method. Still took me three days to do it though, as I've said before, my DIY skills are fairly basic. :redface:

        Came up with a few interesting 'finds' too while digging in the bank; various bits of broken glass and pottery, some buried barbed wire, the top off an old bicycle bell and a mystery metal object with a hook shaped end - any ideas as to what it could be?

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        20190822_154637.jpg
         
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        • mazambo

          mazambo Super Gardener

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          Nice job @Trunky :dbgrtmb: probably way off here but the metal reminds me of a light fitting or candle holder.
           
        • Redwing

          Redwing Wild Gardener

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          Looks good @Trunky . Mr Redwing is quite innovative and as far as I know he dreamed up this method himself. It's worked well for us.

          Re the piece of ironwork: it does look old and cast-iron......gate latch of some sort perhaps.
           
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          • Trunky

            Trunky ...who nose about gardening

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            I did ask a few people for ideas Redwing, most of the suggestions were far too complicated for a DIY incompetent such as myself. I always try to go for the simplest solution when tackling these jobs and yours fitted the bill nicely. Pass on my thanks to Mr Redwing. :biggrin:

            I think you may be right about the gate latch too, that was Mrs Trunky's suggestion and she's usually right. :whistle:
             
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