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The stairs are colorful concrete.

A Sunset book offers tricks for paving and paths

THE ART OF ASCENT TAKES new form in this hillside stairway, which seems a close relative of the fabled Yellow Brick Road. The winding stairs climb through a steep garden in Northern California, bringing color, whimsy, and surprising form to an area of landscape design where these elements are unexpected. Although stairs are meant for walking, who said they have to be pedestrian?

The materials for these stairs are the same as in many drab counterparts--concrete, stone, and square timbers. Pressure-treated 6-by-6s, anchored into the hill with long pieces of reinforcing bar, determine the height ("rise") and location of each step. The tops of the timbers, and the concrete poured flush behind it, form the treads.

But the treatment of the stairs' surfaces makes them stand out. Ready-made 1-foot squares of black slate were set into each tread while the concrete was wet. As the photograph at left shows, the location of the squares varies, so that they end up exaggerating the curves of the stairway.

After the concrete had dried and cured, it was stained a cheery yellow. The wooden treads remain the dusty green of the pressure-treating process, adding a third color that subtly announces each change of level.

Delaney & Cochran, Inc., of San Francisco, designed the stairs.


Stairs, walkways, walls, and patios provide the structural framework for gardens. A newly revised book from Sunset offers ideas and how-to information for these hardscaping surfaces; the serpentine stairway is among them. The 96-page book, Walks, Walls & Patio Floors, offers photos of completed projects and sketches to help you plan and build your own. It's available from Sunset Publishing Corporation, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025. The book costs $8.99, plus $2.50 for shipping (California residents, please add sales tax).
COPYRIGHT 1993 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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