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Five different plants grow between the steps.

Softening the hardness of concrete steps, these narrow bands of low-growing greenery add texture and color where they are least expected. On a hillside stairway, Seattle landscape architect Robert Chittock added 4-inch-wide planter strips at the back of the bottom three steps.

To aid drainage and give plant roots room to grow, the strips open to the soil below. Chittock created the openings when the treads were under construction. Between each tread, he placed two boards: a 2-by-4 at the back of the lower step, a 2-by-8 at the front of the upper step. Metal stakes between the two boards held them in place during the pour.

Shortly after concrete began to harden, he pulled out the stakes, removed the boards, and cleaned out the slurry in the trench. Also at this time, he washed the rest of the concrete to expose the aggregate.

The finished steps are 10 inches wide--plus the 4-inch planting strips--and rise 6 inches. He filled the strips with soil and plants: hen and chicks (Sempervivum), creeping thyme, strawberry-like ground cover (Waldsteinia), hypericum, and Irish moss (Sagina subulata).
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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1985
Words:182
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