five-one-oh

Living local, urban design, sustainability, landscape architecture, and places in the East Bay. Design that works where it is.

Living Local: Our Own Backyard

New Steps from Above

There’s no place more local than your own backyard. We’re outdoorsy gals and we spend a lot of time both working and relaxing in our yard. When we bought the house, the steep path down to the garden started with wooden steps, leading to a concrete ramp, followed by haphazardly arranged railroad-tie steps, and then a short bare incline to the level terrace at the foot of the slope. It was kind of a mish-mash jumble that we first thought was charmingly rustic and later, well, not so charming.

We have a lot of dreams for our yard, but like most people, we have limited funds so we have to carefully pick and choose what we take on and when. Since the steps are the gateway to our favorite outdoor room, we decided it would be this year’s backyard project.

Before: The original path to the backyard was a steep and uneven mix of ramps, railroad ties, urbanite, and bare slopes.

Before: The original path to the backyard was a steep and uneven mix of ramps, railroad ties, urbanite, and bare slopes.

After: The new walkway from our home to the garden is composed of six-foot wide curving steps and level landings. It's astounding how much more of a pleasure it is to walk on a well-designed and built set of steps.

After: The new walkway from our home to the garden is composed of six-foot wide curving steps and level landings. It’s astounding how much more pleasurable it is to walk on a well-designed and built set of steps.

Design/Build
We hired Four Dimensions Landscape Company in Oakland to design and build the steps and we couldn’t be happier with our experience. First, they designed the striking “S” curve on paper, knowing adjustments might be made in the field. The integrated process of design/build makes for a smooth and efficient transition from paper to earth. You wouldn’t want a contractor who doesn’t appreciate design enough to make smart decisions during construction.

When it came time to put the steps in the ground, Michael Thilgen, one of the Company’s owners and a licensed landscape architect, spent hours on-site with a transit and the construction crew. He made sure the steps are comfortable to traverse with landings at the locations where we want future paths to connect. At the same time, he never lost sight of that sinuous line that makes these the steps of our dreams.

Sustainability
The new steps are constructed of landscape timbers, decomposed granite, and existing urbanite (recycled concrete) we had on site. The decomposed granite is permeable for improved storm water infiltration. The original railroad-ties will be reused to make a retaining wall in another part of our yard. Now we spend even more time in the backyard, sprucing it up to be worthy of the new steps.

Have you been working on any projects close to home?

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4 comments on “Living Local: Our Own Backyard

  1. ltsblogstaff
    November 19, 2014

    No not at all. I wish I had the time to make projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • taglinedesign
      November 20, 2014

      Are you fulfilled by the way you’re spending your time? If so, you’ve got a great project.
      -Valerie

      Like

  2. Dana Fashina
    November 18, 2014

    I wish!
    Me, city girl = no yard, no greenery = me fawning over this post
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • taglinedesign
      November 18, 2014

      Thanks, Dana! That explains why you always look so great. While you’re being fashionable, I’m weeding.
      -Valerie

      Like

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2014 by in In the Yard, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , .
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