How to make garden steps from sleepers

This is my starting point, a tired old wall with no proper access to the lawn above. You can see I’ve begun knocking it down and creating an area in which to start thinking about my steps and the design I’m going for.

Having never built any steps before, I had to work out a good way of measuring the angle of attack into the ground.

I chose the wrong time of year to dig. the summer of 2018 was a very hot one, no rain for months and the ground was rock hard. I finished every weekend day on my knees and enjoyed a well deserved cold beer.

It felt like I’d been at work for ages when I finally started actually building something. In came some very heavy 2400 x 200 x 150 mm large treated sleepers, to be used as steps upto the lawn. I laid a layer of rubble/hardcore about 4 inches thick followed by a 2 inch covering of concrete, mixed in a bucket.

I then screwed three large outdoor screws part the way into each end and the middle of the sleepers, turned them upside down and planted them into the concrete, which I made thicker at those points.

To further strengthen the foundations of the lowest step, I also drilled a small hole either end of the sleeper and hammered in a long steel rod into the sleeper and through to the ground below. This felt very secure indeed.

As each sleeper went in, I realised I needed to dig out more earth to make way for the rubble and concrete. I had big mounds of earth piling up out of the picture. The bricks I used to hold the concrete at the sides in were salvaged from the old wall I demolished.

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