Monday, January 17, 2011

The Backyard Stairs Project

Here's the current situation - we live on a ridge and the property features a large rock boulder that cuts the backyard in half. On the high side there is a stretch of grass, then the boulder drops off by 4.5 metres to the rest of the backyard. The rest of the backyard has been effectively cut off from access since day one and as a result grew neglected into a tangle noxious weeds and trees.

We have worked over the past three years to cut down and remove camphor laurel, wandering jew and lantana, and replanted with native Australian plants with a goal of having a lush subtropical feel. It is finally coming together and becoming a place you might like to spend some time. So the first thing is to improve the access, no more lugging tools and equipment down the rock face.

The stairs are made from steel with tallow wood treads, I gave the treads two coats of decking oil so they will cope with the damp conditions.

With the help of Dave and Geoff, we carried down one of the stair sides and tried placing it against the rock and adjusted how it would sit so that the stairs would sit right.

Next, we chalked out where the bolts would have to sit on the rock, and with hammer drill we bored into the rock.  Once we got through the outer surface of the rock, which looked like a crumbly sandstone, the rock was actually quite solid and hard.

We put bolts into the rock and tried to align the stair so it would sit straight. The stair side sat right but stuck out into the air at about 6' off the ground.  To keep it this way would mean having some high piers at the base and then almost another set of stairs.

So we manipulated the stair side around and tried to make some other option workable.

The stair side weighs a couple of hundred kilograms so it was challenging to juggle it around.

Here is the stair side held in place on its side.  You can see the tread angles that will cradle the the wooden treads. 

Mindful of keeping the treads at level or even slightly over horizontal so the steps would be safe, it was put forward that we use washers for extra height on the treads.
As you can appreciate, there is a substantial drop to the lower garden and the stairs will make a real impact on our outdoor experience.

Will keep updates as we complete the project.

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