Boulder steps are large, natural, attractive pieces of rock cut from large boulders. They are sawn into pieces to create flat surfaces that provide solid footing and firm traction. Normally, the larger part of the boulder is embedded in the ground, leaving the sawn portion to function as a step. Due to the diversity of stone types on our planet, these remarkable rock cuttings can be obtained in any color imaginable.
The key to making these steps safe to travel is to make them wider and longer than they are high. This creates the optical effect of an enormous natural staircase that in reality rises less than two inches in vertical height at a time. The stone are normally wide enough for people to take up to three steps across them before they step up to the next stone.
Boulder steps like these are ideal for creating staircases in the sides of any portion of the yard with a steep grade. Steep grades may be the result of building a home near a bayou, or they may be artificial grades created through any number of Houston landscaping methods that add vertical impact to multilevel gardens, natural ponds, meditation gardens, sunken pools, or sunken patios.
It is important to realize that the aesthetic impact of boulder steps is more suited to the sense of the sublime than that of the beautiful. By sublime we mean aesthetics that fill the mind with drama and interest, and by beautiful we mean that which is proportional and easy to fit into our imagination. Boulders by nature are very large, so we recommend them for Houston landscaping projects that support grand architectural themes, large zones of interest, or elements that challenge the mind with a grand impression.
This being said, there is a wide range of Houston landscaping styles that can incorporate boulder steps, provided they are appropriate to the aesthetic parameters mentioned above. They are ideal for building bridges over any meditation pond or stream. The irregular widths and lengths of the stones make them look like they belong in a far off mountain range. However, the finely cut and roughed out surfaces provide plenty of safe traction for the feet.
Stairs cut form boulders are also used in sunken courtyards that incorporate significant amounts of vegetation into their interior designs. While we typically think of a courtyard design as being somewhat formal, we must also remember that in many parts of the world courtyards are more like groves of trees, or even private gardens, where water, plants, and stone work together to help create a special frame of mind.
It is also important to remember that boulder steps can be used anywhere in the yard where a natural touch, combined with a distinct sense of the sublime, creates a feeling that one is standing in a very special place. On certain properties, in fact, incorporating them into front yard landscaping will generate an immediate increase in curb appeal.
In back yards, there really is no limit to where a staircase of even a few simple steps can be added to generate attraction factor to special zones of interest designated for special friends, unique events, and private family gatherings.