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Tai-Chi In Landscape Construction


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Since posting two articles on an alternative approach to Hillside Staircases, I’ve been asked, “What’s wrong with monolithic stone, concrete or wooden stairs”?

The development of this Hillside Staircase Manual (and other How-To-Guides) is a response to the inherent high costs and wastes in conventional landscape construction.


A staircase composed of quarried stone, pallets of brick or pumped concrete requires skilled labor and heavy equipment, along with their accompanying expense.

Custom, prefabricated, modular construction is an alternative approach to material handling and installation.

The Fabrication section of the Manual provides detailed custom stair shapes to choose from to fit your site requirements. It then lays out the simple steps your metal shop will follow to produce them.


The Installation section provides a step-by-step approach for their placement. A one-man crew can install up to ten steps a day utilizing compacted tread infill.


Further customization requires a bit more time, including sand-set pavers, mortar-set tile or finished concrete. You can also have that stone aesthetic by installing a few choice flags.

Decades of designing and building monolithic stone and poured concrete staircases has led to this approach. I’ve discovered that it is counterintuitive to pound a garden into submission. The best art takes a light touch.

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