How To Fix A Garden Step
On a recent visit to check for signs of life on the garlic patch in the garden, we discovered that a large chunk of stone had detached itself from a garden step. A wrongly placed foot could cause a treacherous tumble, a hefty dentist’s bill and, at the very least, a serious loss of dignity if anyone were to witness such a plunge. Winter frosts will only compound the damage, so if you have a broken step in your garden, now is a good time to take the task in hand.
Here’s how to fix your garden step...
Step One: Clean The Step
First things first – give the area a good sweep then get busy with a wire brush around and within the damaged area to remove any loose debris. New concrete, when patched onto old concrete, should stick all well and good, but for a better, more permanent fix, brush the area with a bonding solution before commencing. Failing that, washing the area down with water will help prevent the old concrete absorbing moisture from the newly applied layer which can be one of the reasons that causes a poor bond.
Step Two: Mix The Concrete
For this kind of job, a concrete mix made of 1 part cement, 3 parts sand, and 3 parts aggregate will do the trick.
As the area we are fixing is relatively small, we grabbed a bag of ready mix concrete. These ‘just add water’ mixes are available in a variety of coarseness which is determined by the aggregate used.
We used a rather coarse mixture, the reason being that it was the only type they had in our rubbish local hardware store. Admittedly the finish is not going to win any Chelsea Show Garden gold medals, but at least its stony texture should provide a bit more purchase for muddy wellies.
If you want a smoother finish, choose a mix containing finer aggregate.
Mix your concrete on a flat surface. A large sheet of chipboard is good, but, we use an old plastic recycling bin lid, as the ridges help stop spillage and it’s nice and easy to clean afterwards.
- Heap the concrete mix into a pile, then turn it into a mini volcano by creating a depression in the top.
- Gradually pour the water into the hole, taking care that it doesn't spill over the sides (which is what will inevitably happen) then carefully push the concrete mixture into the water and mix thoroughly.
- Add more water until you achieve the desired consistency. You want your concrete thick and porridge-like – not too dry, but not so wet that it runs when you start to apply it to your chosen area.
It's also a good idea to don a dust mask during this process as powdered concrete contains a myriad of nasty chemicals. You can de-mask once it’s mixed.
Step Three: Apply the concrete
Using a brick trowel, heap the concrete into the area, tapping with the edge of the trowel as you go to remove any air pockets that may form. Sculpt the concrete to the desired height and shape using smooth, even strokes.
If you are after straight, sharp edges, you might want to construct a frame out of wood to constrain the concrete. We used a single piece of wood, pushed flush to the front of the step, held in position with a couple of bricks. To prevent the concrete from sticking to your wooden frame, apply a couple of coats of vegetable or engine oil to the wood first.
Step Four: Optional extras
For an extra grippy surface drag your wire brush over the wet concrete. The resulting cross-hatched lines will improve traction – an enhancement well worth implementing on steps as concrete can get pretty slippery when wet.
Step Five: Protect Your Handiwork
Your concrete step will take around three days to cure, depending on the outside temperature. If you think you might be in for a cold snap or a spot of rain, protect your handiwork with a damp hessian sheet or recycled plastic wrapping.
Step Six: Clean up, you mucky pup!
Although it’s tempting to fling your tools into the shed and put the kettle on for a congratulatory cup of tea, always remember to clean your tools. Concrete sticks to trowels like, er, concrete when dry, so wash them down immediately after use.
The Two Thirsty Gardeners, Rich and Nick, are bloggers who love gardening, eating and drinking in equal measure! They love to share tales from their allotment including their experiments turning the spoils of their crops into alcohol, both the good and the bad!
To find out more about Rich and Nick, click here.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE STIHL GB BLOG
Here you’ll be able to find useful seasonal advice from experts and guest writers, along with the latest news from the world of STIHL and the great outdoors.
In addition, we’ll keep you informed about our latest products and how to make the most of your tools – all so that you can make the most of your outdoor space.
If you love Christmas, then you’re sure to love indulging in a good festive light display, or getting into the spirit with a visit to Santa. In recent years, many gardens around the country have upped their festive game and... Read more →
RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the place to be and be seen in May if you are a keen gardener. Even if you’re not very green-fingered, there is still plenty to inspire you with perfect plants and gorgeous gardens around... Read more →
For the 14 th year running, STIHL will be sponsoring the ARB Show, and we can’t wait for the annual celebration of the science of trees. It’s the 20 th anniversary of the event and it looks set to be... Read more →
We began working with expert chainsaw carver Simon O’Rourke in 2017 when he joined us at the Arb Show to do a wood carving demonstration. For us, he was an obvious choice for a partnership as he is the best... Read more →