Landscape Steps At Landings

by Dr Fry
(Annapolis, MD)

Landscape Steps and Landings

I wish to construct a bluestone or travertine patio which will be about 25 inches below the french doors from the great room. I very much liked the plan on your video that showed how you placed a "large landing" between two stone faced planter boxes. There appear to be 3 steps down to the patio.

I have several questions:
1. How small or how large must the landing be? The french doors open inward.
2. What are ideal dimensions for the steps, considering aesthetics, comfort, and safety.

Thanks. I really appreciate your advice and have learned a great deal. I live in Annapolis, MD

DR. Fry

Hello Dr. Fry,

I am glad you are enjoying my site...thanks.

In your particular situation, I would suggest the following.

I am assuming that your french doors are approximately 6 feet wide, so that could be the width of the new porch/landing. The landing depth should be a minimum of 4 feet for comfort.

Working with the 25 inch change in elevation, I would step down onto your landing, where the landing would be 4 inches lower than your interior floor elevation.

To transition from your landing to your patio, I would build 3 steps. The treads should be about 12 inches deep, and there would be 3 risers, 7" high each. If you add these heights up (4" + 7" + 7"
+ 7") you will find that it will come to 25 inches. In reality, the heights will be just a bit lower since there should be a 2% slope away from your house, along the 4 foot deep landing and the 1 foot deep treads.This actually decreases the 25" to about 24.88".

You can place planters on the sides for protection against falling over the edges. If they are one foot in width each, this allows you 4 feet of spaces length-wise.

If you would like built in planters as in the video here,
the entire width needs to be larger. Allow for an actual planting width of 18 - 24" each side. The outer planter wall should be at least one foot wide. As you can see in the video, the soil area begins just about at the edge of the doors. The steps begin a foot inside from that (the interior border of the planter area is about one foot wide).

I hope this was clear. Every situation is different. For example, this client had the room to the right of the doors so that I could design the built in planters. Another situation might be that the doors go to the end of the house, so this would not be possible, and smaller movable planters would be advised.

If you have any further questions, just post them here under Comments.


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Step Materials
by: Susan

By the way, the step material in the video is natural stone, which looks nice with bluestone. If you use travertine, you might consider facing the walls and risers with travertine, and using travertine for the treads.

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