Seven Styles of Stone Steps in the Landscape

Stone steps take a functional necessity and turn it into a landscape feature in and of itself. The character of the stone adds interest and depth to what can be a mundane element. Below are seven different uses of stone steps in the landscape, each with its own character.

Rock Garden

These stone stairs traverse a boulder retaining wall, but the abundant vegetation softens all the rock to create a lush landscape. Creeping thyme spills across the quartzite steps, with mounding perennials and bunch grasses tucked into planting pockets.

Into the Woods

The verdant woodland setting for this project calls for unobtrusive materials and restrained design. The quartzite stone slabs that make up the staircase are from a nearby quarry in Montana, while the plant palette is primarily native species. The vegetation infringes on the staircase, blending the man-made with its natural surroundings.

Color Coordinated

With a long steep slope to cover, the series of retaining walls and staircases could have been overwhelming. The light tan stone steps, however, play off the tan accents on the residence and garage, unifying the landscape and architecture. With the retaining walls utilizing the same natural basalt as the garage foundation and the concrete patio tinted to match the dark gray house paint, this project embraces a color-coordinated vision.

On the Waterfront

This patio is the perfect place to enjoy the lake, and a great pit stop in and out of the water. There’s no sandy beach to enjoy, but the tan stone steps bring in a beachy vibe while providing easy access directly into the water. The rough texture of the stone gives the surface good traction when wet, unlike wood or metal steps.

Turning Back Time

For the transition from a manicured upper tier of the backyard to a wooded slope below, boulders harvested from the site anchor the staircase in the landscape’s history. The imperfect, irregular surfaces would be unsuitable for stairs with heavier use, but as an occasional staircase they function well.

Bridging the Gap

Stone steps don’t have to go up and down—here they go across. Two stone slabs cantilever from each side of a small stream to form a bridge across. The stone forms a stable footing while blending into the woodland setting.

Stone Landing

Here a single stone slab is used at the back door of the house. Not only does it physically transition between the interior floor height and the patio, but it also provides a thematic transition from the modern house design to the more relaxed, natural landscape. The stone step serves as a teaser for the materials used throughout the backyard.