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View Full Version : Walkway... need some advice


Lawnworks
08-31-2005, 08:38 AM
I have got a job this weekend that involves putting step stones into the side of the hill pictured. The stones are about 4-6" tall and are almost like a larger flagstone in shape. I have told the customer I have no experience and will charge accordingly, and she is going to save big bucks. Do I start from the bottom? What should I use as a base for these stones? Any other info I need to know?

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41459&stc=1

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41460&stc=1

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41461&stc=1

sheshovel
08-31-2005, 11:13 AM
You should pass on this work,
steps up a hill that steep should be done by someone with expierience doing that kind of work.
Should a step you installed fail when someone steps on it,you could open yourself up to a lawsuit and worse,someone could get badly hurt.
My advice to you is to do a few more smaller jobs ... with less steep
steps before trying a job like this.Or get some practice first.

plus I would have a hard time advising without a pic of the stone you are going to use

Lawnworks
08-31-2005, 11:13 PM
I have taken the job, and will work on it till it is right. What do I need to use to level and set the stone in the hill? Crush and run... sand? Do I need to compact it?

buffalo bill
08-31-2005, 11:21 PM
You should pass on this work,
steps up a hill that steep should be done by someone with expierience doing that kind of work.
Should a step you installed fail when someone steps on it,you could open yourself up to a lawsuit and worse,someone could get badly hurt.
My advice to you is to do a few more smaller jobs ... with less steep
steps before trying a job like this.Or get some practice first.

plus I would have a hard time advising without a pic of the stone you are going to use
You were too late, sheshovel :)
What kind of stone? If you can't tell us straight out what kind , you are over your head. Please don't tell us fieldstone.

dmbmikee
09-01-2005, 08:11 AM
I commend you for taking the job. How else are you going to learn? If the customer knows you're upfront and you've explained your lack of experience, just get it in writing and do the job.

Last year, I took on a 70 ton boulder retaining wall andhad NO experience. I read online and and help from this forum and went out and did the job. The customer knew I hadn't done this before, as I told them before I started. The wall came out great, I learned a lot, saved the customer some $$ and walked away with some $$. GO FOR IT! Wish I could give you advice.....but I've not do this kind of thing.

Please give him some help on how to. Telling him not to do the job, does no good. Sorry to be blunt, but you gotta learn somehow. :)

sheshovel
09-01-2005, 04:26 PM
OK then your going to need to dig back into the hill about 2'deep and I'm guessing here 3'1/2wide.Don't go streight up the hill but dig out more at an angle like a switchback a spread out( Z )
Take the soil you dig out and set it in one pile aside.Now start from the top and work down the hill ,make sure you lay out your stones all along your switch back so you can easily reach them.Now install landscape beams or logs cut to fit each section of your stairs aqlong the sides and drill 3/4"holes thru them all in the same places 3 holes for each top /bottom and middle .Then after you put them in where you want them drive 1/2 to 3/4" lengths of Rebar about 2' or more long thru the holes to hold up the sides of your stairway.
now take the soil you dug out and start building up little burms where your gonna set your stones,compact those as you go.Now add small crushed rock on top of you burms and compact and level that.Now set you stones on top of each burm and take a hand sledge a compact gravel all around each one useing the handle.work top down making sure each stone is dug back into the hill at least 6" or more before you compact around it. now do that all the way down the hill keeping the steps no farther than 2' space from one to th other with enough stone showing to put both of your feet on it at the same time with room front and back of you foot too.
wet it down with a light spray to help compact it,then run up and down it to test and adjust where you need to.

sheshovel
09-01-2005, 04:29 PM
And that's the easy way.But not the exact proper way to do this job.

Edgewater
09-01-2005, 09:25 PM
I understood that he wanted to place large, flat, 6" thick slabs in the hill side???

MarcusLndscp
09-01-2005, 10:17 PM
This is not rocket science here. First thing you will need is a small mini -x w/ a thumb, it will help you walk up and down that bank easier and it's easier to set the slabs with. You say your from south east so I'm assuming not much for frost problems which means you don't need much at all for base in this type of application. You can use either crushed gravel or crushed stone with fabric underneath your base, I've done it both ways. The advantage to the crushed stone is that it will move a little bit and allow you to shimmy the step around until it's at the right height, level etc. But both will work and hand tamp as you go. Start at the bottom so you can lay each step on top of the previous one a few inches. It makes no sense to start at top. In those pictures you supplied it's difficult to see how steep it really is and where your easiest path is going to be so you need to make that call. Sheshovel is right in saying you may need to go diagonaly so it's not as steep. You can also be creative and make the starirs make S curves so they're a bit more appealing. One concern I noticed is all those roots, are they from dead trees or are they all on existing live trees? Not a good thing to go ripping out roots like that. From the sounds of it your stone is very rough and natural. Don't try to fight them and make them perfect, it's not like working with lumber. Keep things level side to side and each tread tilted forward a bit to allow for water to flow off the front instead of getting trapped in the back. When you're done spread soil on the sides to blend the grade out so it transitions better. I've done hundreds of these and there's nothing to them. As far as liability with them the client needs to understand that stone is not perfect and may have imperfections. You mentioned some pieces might be only 4" thick. A 4" compared to a 6" step is quite a bit so get yourself some shims that match so you can lift the smaller ones to get them within a half inch either way of 6inches. Post a pic when you're done

Lawnworks
09-01-2005, 11:23 PM
Alright thanks for all the advice. I am going to get some crush and run. Do yall think I need to rent a compactor? I have it factored in the price. I really wanted to rent something to dig into the soil, but I just wasn't sure what exactly so I guess we are going to be using hand tools. Again thanks for all the advise that gives me a little heads up on what to do.

sheshovel
09-03-2005, 03:51 PM
Well Marcus you know what you are doing,but some may have different methods that work best for them.You don't have to install beams for sides at all and I don't on some applications.
But if you take his pic and increase its size on your cp you will see this is a pretty steep hill that obviously has had alot of errosion and will continue to errode.That's why I suggested useing edges.I always start at the top.You don't it's not that it makes scence to you or not... it's what works for me.

Lawnworks
09-03-2005, 04:50 PM
The project went well. Took two guys 6 hours including lunch. Customer was estatic with finished product. I will have pics up late tonight. We did start from the top and it worked out really well. Packed everything in w/ pavers sand. I charged her $600 labor and really did not expect to make much money per man hour and mark it up as a learning experience, but we ended up doing alright. Of course, I spent some time choosing the rock and getting the paver's sand. So a total of 14 man hours. What do yall charge per man hour for this type work?

Lawnworks
09-03-2005, 09:40 PM
http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41573&stc=1
http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=41574&stc=1

We are going to do some planting and mulch/straw later.

sheshovel
09-04-2005, 02:48 AM
Your only problem is you dident use the crushed rock as we advised,it may look fine to you now but that sand is not stable enough to hold in heavy winter rains.The placement looks fine all but the bottom where the two sm flagstones are dangerous as is you lower tilted path.Other than those things you did great for your first one!

Lawnworks
09-04-2005, 09:41 AM
So you would have used actual crush and run?

mbella
09-04-2005, 09:50 AM
Why did you start at the top? You should have started at the bottom and overlapped the treads by a few inches.

kootoomootoo
09-04-2005, 10:44 AM
Your only problem is you dident use the crushed rock as we advised,it may look fine to you now but that sand is not stable enough to hold in heavy winter rains.The placement looks fine all but the bottom where the two sm flagstones are dangerous as is you lower tilted path.Other than those things you did great for your first one!

Maybe he could have mixed some portland cement with the sand.

Lawnworks
09-04-2005, 02:43 PM
Why did you start at the top? You should have started at the bottom and overlapped the treads by a few inches.

All of them overlapped about 4".

mbella
09-04-2005, 02:49 PM
How did you start at the top and manage to do that?

sheshovel
09-04-2005, 04:40 PM
It has always worked for me starting at the top.Don't ask me why it just goes easier that way for me.
Yes I would have used crushed and packed it around the stones and spread it on the sides after digging them into the hill,overlapping and tipping.

Dirty Water
09-04-2005, 04:43 PM
Starting at the top makes absolutely no sense to me.

Have you ever tried building a stack of boxes by starting at the top? :rolleyes:

mbella
09-04-2005, 04:43 PM
Sheshovel, I was curious how he managed to start at the top, overlap each riser 4 inches and not undermine each riser.

sheshovel
09-04-2005, 04:56 PM
I don't think he did I think he mistook "Overlapp"for "Hanging over" and did not begin to overlapp in for real intell he got towards the bottom of the hill.

Lawnworks
09-04-2005, 05:06 PM
We dug under each stone after it was placed. I guess would you have done it starting from the bottom... what advantages are there from that? What is the difference b/t overlap and hanging over? I am here to learn, and want to hear yalls advice.

sheshovel
09-05-2005, 05:29 AM
Like this......

dmbmikee
09-05-2005, 08:55 AM
From your diagram, it looks as though overlapping and hangin over, are one in the same. Towards the bottom, you have two stones labelled as both overlapped and hanging over......Maybe is was mislabelled.

All in all, you finished the job. It looks great! And you made some money!! Good job! :)

Lawnworks
09-05-2005, 10:00 AM
All of the rocks actually touch each other and are stacked on top of each other. It might be hard to tell b/c we filled all of the nooks and crannies in w/ pavers sand.

MarcusLndscp
09-08-2005, 10:30 PM
SheShovel
I suppose it really made no sense to me because I usually deal with much larger material. When he said he was making steps I envisioned something much larger in scale which is why I said use a mini ex at first. The stone he did use looks like 2 man rocks to me....meaning that two men can get them around one way or the other without the aide of equipment....but maybe the pic is deceiving to me. When I do steps it's usually on this sort of scale and starting at the top is in no practical way feasible. If it works for you it works for me....I was just trying to give the guy some tips.

mbella
09-08-2005, 11:10 PM
Mark, nice pics. You are too kind. If you are overlapping and stacking it makes no sense to start at the top.

Squizzy246B
09-09-2005, 07:58 AM
G,day Marcus. What type of equipment do you use to handle/grab the stone?. We build retaining, steps and pillars out of limestone, or reconstituted limestone and we just use steel hinge clamps on the excavator.

By the look of those steps that stone would be heavy. The limestone blocks we lift are about 540lb. I'm keen to move onto harder stone but have never tried it.

MarcusLndscp
09-09-2005, 08:16 PM
As far as how we set these steps......in smaller sets like the set of 4 bluestone ones I pictured. Those were just set with a skid with forks on. The steps were built first and then all grades around them were lifted with the help of the retaining walls on either side. The driveway was also lifted quite a bit so building the steps with forks was easy. All the other steps I pictured were set simply with either an excavator or a backhoe with straps slung around each piece. When using straps you have to make sure to put padding of some sort on the sharp edges of the granite or else the straps can eventually wear and break. In the pics of the very large granite steps that curve we used the ex you see as it had the best reach to do the job and it is what we had on site to do all the initial demolition of the old landscape and installation of drainage systems, boulder work, etc. On that job we set $22,000 (our cost) worth of granite steps that measured 4'x2'x7". Imagine setting that many starting at the top MBella!!! That would kind of be like trying to put your underwear on after you've already put on your Carhartts....you could do it but it's obviously easier our way. To each his or her own :D

Squizzy246B
09-09-2005, 09:31 PM
Thank you for the reply Marcus. I'd love to see some more of your work.

sheshovel
09-12-2005, 02:12 AM
I see what you mean Marcus,what we were speaking of were way,way different types of work here.I agree those overlapping applications need and have to start at the top.I was takling about sticking some stones in a little hill and making sure they were safe ,not the building of steps like you have shown.There is no way I would do a job like that the way I described this one to him.When I am on my kneepads on a steep hill and working with small stones,or stepping stones,I have already dug out the soil and built up step base of it and laid and compacted gravel on it .Then I set my stones on THAT framework and working from the botton up or the top down you are still going to get the same results because I have already built the steps basicly all I have to do is top them with the stone and secure the stones into the hill.Do you understand what I ment now?You can't compare the two types of jobs at all.What you show and what I am speaking of re two different methods of working.I am explaining handtool work and you are explaining heavy equipment work.

cgland
09-12-2005, 11:44 AM
:dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:

sheshovel
09-12-2005, 12:11 PM
OK then fine how's this....It is best to start at the top when doing steps down a hill and I was wrong to advise any different.I do it wrong and the way I do it is like putting on tour underwear before your pants . Please do not try this at home.Sheshovel has no idea what she is talking about and her methods should be ignored and her advice never heeded.I once again stand corrected boys.Please accept my apology for bad advice again if you will.

MarcusLndscp
09-12-2005, 06:58 PM
I'll second that notion..... :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:

Sheshovel.....I think the dizzy heads are for the simple fact that if you go back and read what you wrote it makes no sense at all. You've contradicted yourself a number of times with starting at top or bottom and what's best. Let's just do ourselves a favor and end this needless discussion because it's going nowhere in a fast way! I'm not trying to be rude by saying this so please don't respond like I am.