Dirt banks are a feature of many landscaped and natural areas. Traversing them can be made safer and easier by adding steps cut directly into the dirt slope. The simplest steps consist of a wooden vertical back called a riser and a flat step, or tread, formed from the bare earth. Such steps are simple to construct, use readily available materials and blend well with a natural landscape.

Garden pathway
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Steps can be simple and inexpensive, but still effective.

Step 1

Divide the height of the bank by the depth of each step. For example, if you want the steps to be 8 inches tall, and the bank is 32 inches high, divide 32 by 8. The result is the number of steps required. In this example, four steps are needed because 32 divided by 8 equals 4.

Step 2

Cut sufficient lengths of wood planking to form the backs, or risers, of the steps. Each plank should be cut to match the desired height and width of the steps. For example, if the steps are 8 inches high and 3 feet wide, cut the planks to those dimensions.

Step 3

Dig horizontally into the soil at the base of the slope to form a flat surface with a vertical back. The finished excavation should match the width of the step. The height of the back wall should be identical to the height of the step. For example, using the dimensions from Step 2, the excavation would be 3 feet wide with a back wall 8 inches tall.

Step 4

Place a cut plank at the back of the excavation. Press it firmly against the vertical back wall, then adjust it until the top edge is horizontal.

Step 5

Place a wooden stake in front of each end of the plank, an inch or two in from the edge. Use stakes twice the height of the riser, and hammer them in until the tops of the stakes are flush with the top edge of the plank. Drive a third stake in halfway along the width of the riser to provide additional strength, if necessary. This forms, and secures, the first wooden riser.

Step 6

Create subsequent steps by repeating steps 3 through to 5, starting each time at the top of the previous step. Continue adding steps until the top of the slope is reached.