Like I said in the 2011 yard post, I built all the retaining walls the year before, but left a gaping hole in two areas that needed stairs. I just couldn’t wrap my head around exactly what I wanted to do in either spot. Plus I ran out of time before winter hit. In spring ’11 I decided to tackle the stairs on the left side of the house first, because I knew WHAT I wanted, I just hadn’t figured out HOW to do it yet. I wanted the stairs to be tucked in between the walls I created. I knew I wanted them in wood, but I had to figure out all the precise measurements. And I knew I’d have to cut the stringers myself because it was a custom job and the basic stringers you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot wouldn’t fit. Oh, and I also needed to build some sort of retaining wall to hold back the cliff I had created between the two retaining walls. See where the pirate ship is? Well that dirt just stops. Nothing is holding it back. It made it through one winter like this, but eventually, it would start to erode and wash down toward the swing set if I didn’t hold it back with some sort of retaining wall. I didn’t want to use the retaining wall blocks in this spot, so I devised a plan to make a wood retaining wall out of 2x10s. I had to dig holes for the 4x4s, put them in place, mark everything, take it all out, attach the three 2x10s to the 4x4s, then slide the whole thing back into the holes. Obviously hubby helped because there ain’t no way I could lift that myself. I then cemented all the 4x4s in the ground. It was a little nerve racking trying to make sure the lower ones matched up perfectly with the tall ones! That 2×4 in the picture was removed after everything else was attached. As usual, all that freaking dirt was dug by hand. You know… with a shovel, not like hands in the dirt. Although it seems like I always do have my hands in the dirt. This is what the retaining wall looked like from the top.Once all that was done it was time to cut and attach the stringers. My advice is measure 100x, draw it all out, and hopefully cut once. It honestly wasn’t as bad as I had always imagined. I checked out a crap-load of books from the library about deck stairs. I never found anything exactly like what I needed, but there was good advice for cutting stringers. Apparently the whole between two retaining walls thing is not so common, but I think it looks a heck of a lot better! Here are the stringers going in. I used 6! It’s probably overkill for sure, but better safe than sorry. If I did it all over again, I would make the steps out of 2×6 and NOT decking (3/4 x6) which would have been a lot stronger and needed less support, therefore fewer stringers. Oh well! I contemplated putting flagstone or something at the bottom, like as a bottom step, but since we replaced the grass with wood chips it’s not necessary. Adding the decking across the stringers was the easy part and then it was all finished. I filled the gaps between the wood retaining wall and dirt with gravel and added that top layer of 2 pavers on each side. It needed a little something. These are turned sideways, so they’re “thicker” than the ones on the side walls. I must like the way it looks, because I haven’t changed it in the past 3 years. Hehe.Now it was time to finish laying the landscape fabric and cover with gravel.I built these in spring ’11, but for whatever reason I didn’t get around to staining them till ’12 and boy did they look a lot better after I did! This picture from ’13 shows they need some TLC. I might replace the decking this summer. At the very least, flip the boards over so that curling in the corner is not so noticeable. I’m sure the misplaced screw holes will drive me crazy. We’ll see. And this is what they look like this winter. I’m glad they’re getting some off-season use!Check out all my Crash Your Own Yard posts — no Ahmed required!
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