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How To Build Flagstone Stairs

Learn how to add character to a backyard with a flagstone staircase.

More in Outdoors

flagstone staircase adds character to backyard
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $5,000 - $10,000

  • Difficulty

    Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Arrange the Boulders

After the area has been bulldozed, set the boulders at the base of the hill. Set the boulders in attractive groupings of three and use the boulders to direct the flow of the stairs.

set boulders at base of hill

Step 2: Partially Bury the Boulders

Using a pick and shovel, dig some holes so the boulders will be partially buried. Use a forklift to set each heavy boulder in the hole. When the boulder is placed for maximum aesthetic value, fill in the dirt around the base of the boulder. Repeat this process for the other boulders at the bottom of the staircase.

use forklift to set each heavy boulder in hole

Step 3: Lay the Flagstone Steps

Move on to the first of the flagstone steps. Use a pick, shovel, and a skid loader to carve out a dirt platform for the step. Place the flagstone on top of the dirt platform with the loader (Image 1). Using a level to check your work, add more dirt until the flagstone is level. The step must have a slight forward tilt to channel off any water. Works up the hill, laying boulders first, and then the steps. Use smaller flagstones to create pathways in between sections of the staircase (Image 2). These parts of the yard are flat and don't need steps. When completed, the steps and pathways will create one cohesive walkway.

Step 4: Landscape the Area

To make the walkway more aesthetically pleasing, plant a few large trees around the perimeter. Fill in the space around the staircase with smaller boulders and various plantings. The first step in planting is to prepare the soil. Apply compost to the soil to aid in the plants' growth, and then mix the compost together with the soil using a rototiller (Image 1). Dig holes for the plants, loosen up their roots, put them in the ground, and then fill in the surrounding area with dirt (Image 2). Be careful not to plant them too deeply, which could create a pool for water -- drowning the plants. Complete the project by covering the remaining areas of open dirt with mulch. This helps the soil retain moisture and discourages erosion.

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