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Differentiate steps with a different stone color or cut.

When step treads look visually different it sends a clue that an elevation change is coming. Because they are noticeable, these steps are safer than if they had just been a continuation of the same stone used on the dining terrace. Precisely milled stone, as used here, is easier to install on steps because of its straight edges. Using irregular flags would require many cuts to get the right fit. In this case, the color on the upper level, stairs and lower level is kept in the same tones; however, you could use contrasting colors to designate steps.

Use irregular flagstones, rubble and boulders to create a naturalistic set of steps.

Mixing different types of stones can create a natural look. These stairs feature flagstone treads, risers made of rubble, or leftover broken stones, and boulders. This combination works for two reasons. First, all of the stone has similar coloring. Second, each type of stone has a distinct scale, ranging from small to large. The steps are not overwhelmed by the stone because they are all unique from each other, yet united by color. Naturalistic plantings of ornamental grasses complement this design well.

Cantilever flagstone step treads to make them float through a naturalistic landscape day and night.

Because this paving creates such an irregular patchwork of stone, it is the ideal choice for naturalistic landscaping styles. Here the flagstone steps take up grade so gradually, each tread seems to float above the one below it. Note the shadow created by the cantilevered tread that almost obscures the view of the riser. When cantilevered, there's always an opportunity to use accent materials on the riser and design recessed lighting for each riser after dark. Such subtle light bands are important for safety and to guide visitors with ambient light without unnatural pathway light standards at the edges.

Pave entry steps with a light colored flagstone to create a welcoming feel.

Light colored flagstone creates a cheery and welcoming atmosphere. These steps, which take on a color close to yellow in the sunlight, provide a clear path through plantings to the home’s front door. The mortar color was closely matched to the stones so that it would not contrast and compete for attention. Rough textures and the monochromatic color palette give these steps a casual vibe. Wide landings are interspersed among the steps to provide resting points. The lower portion of the steps is flanked by limestone walls that give the stairway a prominent presence in the landscape.

Landscaping Network

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