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How to Build Terraced Steps With 4-by-4s

Terraced steps are some of the most primitive forms of steps available. The steps simply divide an existing outdoor slope into a stair-like area. You can use these stairs as actual steps to make it easier to climb an incline, or you can transform the grassy part of the stairs into a stair-stepped terrace garden that works well as an accent for a garden at the top or bottom of the sloped area.

Step 1

Measure the rise and run of the slope with a tape measure.  The rise is the vertical distance between the top and bottom of the slope, while the run is the horizontal distance between the top and the bottom of the slope. For a slope measuring 8 feet high and 20 feet long, you could have eight steps that each measure 12 inches high with a distance of about 25 feet between each step. 

Step 2

Cut your 4-by-4 boards into the desired length.  You will only need the boards to prevent the soil from slipping from terrace to terrace. The top of each step will remain soil. 

Step 3

Dig a trench at the base of the sloped area with a shovel.  Make the trench deep enough to fit the board inside. Pound 18-inch stakes into the ground with a hammer every 12 inches along the board to keep it in place. 

Step 4

Measure 25 feet into the side of the hill.  Dig another trench, and anchor it into the slope in the same way. Continue the process until you reach the top of the hill. 

Step 5

Fill in any ugly areas around the boards with leftover dirt.  Pack the dirt tightly for best results.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 4-by-4-inch boards
  • Table saw
  • Shovel
  • 18-inch stakes
  • Hammer

About the Author

Brenda Priddy has more than 10 years of crafting and design experience, as well as more than six years of professional writing experience. Her work appears in online publications such as Donna Rae at Home, Five Minutes for Going Green and Daily Mayo. Priddy also writes for Archstone Business Solutions and holds an Associate of Arts in English from McLennan Community College.