Stairs with gardens can look beautiful, but sometimes those stairs get in the way and it's difficult to know how to deal with them. Here we take a look at how to make use of them in a practical as well as visual way so they can become a stunning feature.
Stairs as a Garden Focal Point
It's understandable that you may see gardening with stairs as troublesome, but it doesn't take much to turn this irritation into a garden focal point to be proud of; it'll be a talking point of your garden before you know it. By using the areas in the garden we have to our advantage, instead of battling against them, some great looks can be achieved.
Make a visual impact on your stairs by using exterior paint, to add year round color to your garden. If the stairs are visible from an interior room then consider painting them in the same color scheme as the room. This technique will also have a positive impact on the interior room, making the space feel bigger as your eye is drawn outside, beyond the room. You don't have to stick to solid color either, try using vertical stripes for a contemporary feel.
Adding an eye-catching balustrade will make the stairs look very grand, as an entrance to your garden. Or alter the balustrade you already have with paint, and hang lanterns from the stairs handrail.
Garden Stairs as a Useful Area
If you have garden stairs, there is a huge area of garden just begging to be utilized.
Small containers, especially those used for Bonsai trees, look particularly pleasant, placed on the edge of the stairs - effectively using the stairs as a plant bench. Not only does this define the stairs' boundary, it also adds an aesthetic touch. Make sure not to add too many, or use large pots, as the stairs can become cluttered, and a hazard before you know it.
If you think of the sides of your stairs as a garden wall, then you will start to see more potential in its use. Fixing a trellis to the outside "wall" of your stairs is a quick and easy way to add an area ideal for climbing plants such as clematis or climbing roses. Alternatively utilize this area as a garden organizer. Thread old slate tiles onto some garden string, hanging from the trellis, and use it as a memo board for garden "to do's" or even just for kids to scribble on with chalk. If you add hooks to it you can: hang your jacket up, as you build up a sweat doing all that gardening; use it to hang tools from; store twine; even hang children's toys and small watering cans from it.
Add larger decorative hooks to your stairs wall to hang baskets or window boxes from, or use it as a bird feeding station. A DIY bird feeder can be made easily from a log of wood: drill large sections out of the log without going right through to the other side; insert a used tea light tray into each recess, and put the bird food into these areas; and hang from a hook using hanging basket chains. Remember to feed the birds all year around, and not just in the winter; parents needs a lot of nourishment in spring and summer as they raise their young!
Getting Hardcore with the Problem
Rather than working on decorating around the stairs, why not take direction action and make the stairs themselves more attractive. Change your type of stairs to something a little more rustic (but safe) looking by using some different hardcore elements such as flagstones or rugged looking surfaces on the step materials.
If your stairs are very much part of the landscape then why not create a rock garden around them; this is a perfect decorative solution to a sloping garden.
Lighting your Garden Stairs
Gardening with stairs can be a particular problem in the evening, as the light fades but you still want to get out and enjoy your garden without the worry of falling down the stairs. This can be especially problematic with children in the garden.
Use small plant pots as tea light holders to define the edge of the stairs, or make your own lanterns by drilling through old metal buckets, decorate with tin cans or use plastic plant containers. You could also try stringing up small paper lanterns, or use brightly colored glass votives with wire handles, to hang off the balustrade. If you used the idea of fixing trellis or hooks to the side of the stairs, as detailed above, then use this area too, for hanging your lights.
By following these tips, your stairs will remain a garden focal point, whatever time of year, whatever time of day.