How to Build Block Steps in a Steep Hill

Written by corey morris
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How to Build Block Steps in a Steep Hill
Building a stone stairway can add a decorative touch to any landscape. (stone stairs image by Xavier MARCHANT from

Adding stone blocks to a hillside can complement any landscape project. This look can improve access to a higher location without using a long path or simple grass embankment. A project such as this has numerous possible designs and shapes. Stone staircases can also be used to provide a more intricate design to a flower garden. Making your own stairway with block stones can be inexpensive and simple when done correctly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Stairway design
  • Spray paint
  • Flat-point shovel
  • Masonry sand
  • Compacting plate
  • Level
  • Gravel
  • Block stones
  • Tape measure
  • Pick axe
  • Broom

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  1. 1

    Plan out your stairway design. Decide the exact design of the project by drawing it on paper. Include all dimensions you desire along with any patterns or shapes such as curved or blocked angles for the walkway. The more intricate designs will require more intense labour and more money. However, they will be more appealing at the same time.

  2. 2

    Spray paint the grass along the hillside where you want the steps placed. Start digging the base of the first step at the bottom of the hill. Use a flat-point shovel to cut into the bank at a 90-degree angle. This will create a level surface to work from. Cut an area of ground about three feet wide for one person or five feet wide for two people.

  3. 3

    Place a layer of masonry sand down on the area of the first cut and press it down with a compacting plate. Use a level to make sure the dirt and sand lay evenly. Pick out stones that will fit into the area you have dug. Chip them with a pick axe if needed. Place the stone block down on top of the sand so it is up against the bank.

  4. 4

    Place each additional block about 10 inches above the previous block. Use a tape measure for the distance. Make sure to dig evenly into the hillside with each additional step base. Apply the removed dirt and gravel in between each step to fill in any cracks where weeds may grow.

  5. 5

    Create a new base for each turn in the direction of the steps or every eight to 10 feet as in Step 3. Make sure the base stones are sitting completely level and are secure before moving up the hill. Place a layer of fine sand over the steps once they are all in place. This will fill in any slits in the steps and the ground. Brush the steps off with a broom when finished. Monitor the area, especially after rains, for erosion or step movement.

Tips and warnings

  • Place plastic sheets under the steps to prevent weed growth over the years.
  • Use gloves when handling stone blocks because they are very heavy and sometimes have sharp edges. Also use safety glasses if chipping at stones.

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