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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone - first post here.

I am close to finishing a big project where i used 6x6s to build steps into the side of a hill in our yard. Everything i have seen online where other people do similar projects is they fill them with either pavers or DG. Pavers are a bit expensive, and DG wouldnt stand up to our 3 dogs ripping up and down the steps.

So my other options are: concrete, topping them with deck boards, or using some sort of epoxy/stabilized gravel.

I was curious if you all had any ideas? The steps are 21" deep (that includes the width of the 6x6 that forms the riser) and about 8' wide. My thinking for the deckboards is to run one joist across the middle and lay deck boards perpindicular to the stairs - I cant think of how to run joist perpindicular to the stair so I could lay the deckboards in the typical parallel fashion.

Ive included a few images that are like the steps I built (but not mine).

Any help or suggestions you guys have for filling/topping these steps would be awesome.

Thanks!!
 

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Far better to post a picture of your stairs, now where going to have to just guess what to do.
 

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Going to have a bunch of issues to deal with the way that was done.
Any form of decking board, composite or wood needs air flow under it or it's going to rot or mold up.
Leaving the top soil in place, and concrete or compactable fill is not going to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Going to have a bunch of issues to deal with the way that was done.
Any form of decking board, composite or wood needs air flow under it or it's going to rot or mold up.
Leaving the top soil in place, and concrete or compactable fill is not going to work.
Can you provide a bit more detail? What about the way it was done will make none of those options work? I understand your point about deck boards not having the right amount of airflow. But I dont understand how concrete or compactable fill will not work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Typically I have seen these use compacted fill. Dig out the grass, put down good quality landscape fabric, then your fill.
This is great, thanks! I was thinking of a base layer of 57 stone (or some other kind of compactable base) topped with a pea gravel. Have any of you had experience with those epoxy products (like a gravel-lok or something like that) where it bonds the gravel together? It would be nice to keep that gravel from getting kicked/moved all around.

I've also read some stuff on no-fines concrete - where its something like 7 parts pea gravel, 1 part cement, 2 parts water (or something like that), and it bonds the pea gravel together but still provides drainage.
 

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Ayuh,... Which is Why I suggested 3/4" Minus limestone,.....

It'll compact, 'n be like concrete is a very short time,.....
won't that still sag overtime with soil underneath? I think you should at least fill half of it with concrete and the other half with whatever artsy stuff you like. without a good base it won't last and look as good in a year or two.
 

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As the old organic matter rots it's going to sink.
Also some of it's going to regrow and come through whatever you put down.
It also will not compact.
Pea gravel will not compact, and will just make a mess.
 

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won't that still sag overtime with soil underneath? I think you should at least fill half of it with concrete and the other half with whatever artsy stuff you like. without a good base it won't last and look as good in a year or two.
Ayuh,.... Even if it does, another wheelbarrow of stone applied, 'n it's fixed,...
 

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have you considered putting in a few deep heavy concrete footings in some key places to keep things in place, however you decide to finish, drainage away from steps should be a priority, to keep lumber from sitting in wet soil, and water washing away your base, also if you live in frozen ground turf, the father you can separate your structure from wet soil the less heave you will get
 

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If you can find a way to do it, borrow a trick from Mother Nature.

If you ever look under any kind of coniferous tree (pine, spruce, fir), you'll find that nothing ever grows directly under it except the hardiest weeds that will grow anywhere. I've noticed that many times as I used to hike in the Whiteshell Provincial Park when I was younger.

That is a coniferous tree's way of gaining a competitive advantage over faster growing plants that may grow near it and shade it from the Sun. Coniferous trees will drop needles, and those needles will rot in the ground and make that ground inhospitable to other plants. The only thing that will grow under a coniferous tree will be weeds that will grow in the worst conditions.

And, while it's just a guess, it's probably a good guess, that if other plants don't like living in the ground under a coniferous tree, then bugs that live in the ground like ants and sowbugs won't want to live in it either.

Anyhow, I'm thinking that if you could distribute dried up pine, spruce or fir tree needles on your steps and allow them to rot, they would prevent grass from growing on your steps in a 100% natural way.

Here in Manitoba, the local forestry department spreads coniferous tree needles on all the foot paths in the Provincial parks to minimize the amount of maintenance they have to do in keeping those paths clear and from becoming overgrown with grass and the less hardy weeds that grow here.

You COULD just wait for Christmas and liberate some abandoned Xmas trees, spread them out on some plastic and by early spring you'll have a bountiful harvest of pine, fir and spruce needles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for all the replies guys. I am not too concerned about settling in the stairs. Once I remove all the grass/dirt that I dug up - the ground left is very compacted - its solid NC clay. So if i can get to this solid base, get a good layer of rock, then i can top with whatever. Also, I have pretty much cut out all of the sod in this area, and even before I built the steps - aside from grass, nothing else came in, and the grass wasnt doing too well either. Its a shaded side of the house.

The pine straw idea is interesting - here in NC we use pinestraw alot for mulch, but weeds still find a way.

I am still super intrigued by the idea of mixing some kind of epoxy with gravel. Trying to find a distributor to even get a ballpark on pricing, but could be a good alternative to concrete (also have a concrete guy coming in this weekend to give me a quote).

We had some really heavy rains last night (maybe 2-3" in less than an hour) and there was no puddling/washout or anything around the stairs, which makes me feel pretty good. I will keep everyone update on how it continues. I know I had trouble finding info on this kind of project, so hopefully this can help someone else.
 
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