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Best Step Ladders for Lawn And Garden Use

A ladder might not be the first accessory you associate with yard work. The most common tasks involve what’s below, not what’s above. But there are quite a few times you’ll need to get to something overhead, too. And for those occasions, you should have a quality step ladder on hand.

Of course, we emphasize quality. A lot depends on a ladder – including your bodily integrity. It’s important to have a good one as well as to observe proper ladder safety. Here, we’ll look at some of the best step ladders you can use for various yard care tasks. Of course, you can bring them inside for jobs, too!

Some Ways You’ll Use Your Ladder Outside

There are quite a few ways to use your ladder outdoors. Don’t believe us? Here are a few that we came up with. 

  • Cleaning gutters
  • Trimming trees and bushes
  • Washing windows
  • Installing and filling bird feeders
  • Hanging decorations
  • Retrieving kids’ toys from low branches 

We’re surely missing many! Always feel free to let us know in the comments below. How have you used your ladder outdoors?

What To Look For In A Ladder

To make sure your ladder does the job for you, there are just a few factors to consider.

Height

Ok, this is obvious, right? Of course you need a ladder that’s the right height for the job!

But when calculating that, remember that you won’t be using the top step and the shelf at the top of the ladder. It’s not safe to stand on either of these. You also don’t want to reach too far and lose your balance.

So the formula for choosing the right-sized step ladder is:

Your height + ladder height18 inches (for the step you won’t use) = the height you can reach.

So if you have a 6-foot step ladder and you’re 5 foot 8 inches tall:

5 feet 8 inches + 6 feet – 18 inches = 10 feet 2 inches. That should be the maximum height you’re trying to work at. If you need something higher, look for a bigger ladder. 

Weight capacity

Of course, a ladder has a weight limit, too. And you need to be sure to have a ladder that can support your body weight – plus the weight of any tools you’ll be carrying!

It’s easy to forget about the weight of the tools. And honestly, most that you’d carry on a ladder aren’t that heavy, anyway. 

But be careful – excessive weight may lead to the ladder collapsing. Most often, it’s a gradual process where the joints slowly give out, though.

The weight capacity of a ladder is indicated by its “type” as detailed here:

  • Type IAA – 375 pounds
  • Type IA – 300 pounds
  • Type I – 250 pounds
  • Type II – 225 pounds
  • Type III – 200 pounds

Ease of movement

Of course, a ladder isn’t going to stay in one place. You have to move it from storage to where you need it. And you’ll likely have to move it from point to point while working with it, too.

So you want something lightweight, easy to carry, and simple to fold up and move.

Today, most step ladders are made of fiberglass or aluminum. Both are light enough to make the task easy. They’re definitely lighter than older, wooden ones.

Why Not Buy The Biggest Step Ladder?

You might be tempted to look for the biggest step ladder you can afford. And sometimes, that might be a good idea. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Your budget is one, of course, but we’ve mentioned that. There’s no need to buy more ladder than you need! Buy one big enough to be safe, but buy what makes sense for you.

Storage space is another factor. Where will you keep the ladder? Be sure you have space to store it. Of course, you can store it laying down or mounted on a wall; it doesn’t have to be upright.

You’ll also have to think about the types of projects you’ll be doing. For instance, if you have to work under a tree, you don’t want a ladder that’s so tall it will be hard to maneuver under the branches.

Finally, you do have to move it to use it. So you want something that’s not disproportionately hard to move if you don’t have to put up with the hassle.

Our Picks for the Best Step Ladders

Now let’s get into the details of some of the best step ladders for use around your yard!

Little Giant Ladders, Flip-N-Lite, 6-Foot, Step Ladder

little giants 6 foot step ladder review
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 6 foot
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs (Type IA)
  • Ladder Weight: 14 pounds

This step ladder is great for common backyard tasks. At 6 feet, it’s big enough for most chores you need to do. It’s also solid and stable.

It has four steps, and the fourth is far enough from the top that you can safely step on it. It’s also wide enough to serve as a shelf for small tools or other items.

The top bar also doubles as a “tool tray” that can hold tools and other small items. It’s great for secateurs, a hammer, a ruler, or the like.

The feet of the ladder offer stability, even on smooth indoor surfaces. They’re made of flexible PVC – that gives them a bit of give while still being strong enough to protect your surface. At the same time, they’re soft enough to stick.

The six-foot height is a good “average” size – we have some shorter and some larger ones below. But since it’s average, it’ll do for most jobs and users.

It’s a good addition to your shed, safe and secure! The price (as of this writing) did seem a bit high compared to other quality ladders we’ve looked at. But that’s the biggest disadvantage we see.

Louisville Ladder 8-foot Cross Step Ladder

is the louisville ladder cross step ladder good
  • Material: Fiberglass rungs: aluminum steps
  • Height: 8 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs (Type IA)
  • Ladder Weight: 28 lbs.

This 8-foot step ladder from Louisville Ladder impressed us with its stability. And we really liked the tool slots that will help keep everything in place for you! The tool holder even has a magnet to keep tools from sliding off.

The rubber feet have ridges that the ladder can stand firmly on any surface. 

There are seven steps spaced a standard one foot apart. Of course, you should avoid the top step for safety. But the ladder is tall enough to let you reach any normal job. And you’d probably want an extension ladder for anything higher.

As a cross ladder, it can also be used as a shelf ladder – that is, it works well and stands firmly in place leaned against a wall rather than opened up in the A-shape. That’s great for working on the side of the house or even close to the trunk of a tree.

The highest stand level as a step ladder is 5 feet 8 inches. As a shelf ladder, it’s 4 feet 9 inches.

At 28 pounds, it is a bit heavy. But that’s clearly a result of solid construction. It’s the most expensive ladder overall on our list, but it has the quality to back up the price.

Werner 8-foot Step Ladder

review of werner 8 foot step ladder
  • Material: Fiberglass frame; aluminum steps
  • Height: 8 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs (Type I)
  • Ladder Weight:  25 lbs.

This is another quality 8-foot step ladder that we can find nothing significant wrong with. And the price beats out some of the stiffest competitors, too.

There are 8 rungs to this one. At 3 ⅛-inch deep, they provide a speck more depth than other ladders, so you might feel more secure with this.

The top has holes for tools like screwdrivers. And on the side of the top, there are notches for handles that can even support drills and similar tools.

The feet have ridges and are slip-resistant, great for working on smooth surfaces as well as the ground or patio.

Be mindful that this is a Type I ladder – that is, it’s only designed to hold up to 250 pounds. If you’re a larger person or have to haul shingles or other heavy packages up a ladder, this probably will not be the best choice for you. Otherwise, though, this is a fantastic addition.

Gorilla Ladder 5.5-foot Step Ladder

gorilla 5.5 feet step ladder
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 5.5 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs. (Type IA)
  • Ladder Weight: 17.6 lbs.

If you need a smaller ladder, this 5 ½-foot model from Gorilla is a great choice. It’s stable and durable. If you need to reach about 10 feet off the floor, then this is the ladder for you!

This step ladder has 4 steps. They’re spaced at a normal 10-inch depth. And the top two steps are deeper than normal, making them great for setting down tools.

The 3rd step is actually far enough from the top step that it’s safe to stand on it. You’ll be able to maintain your three points of contact from there.

Of course, the top platform also has slots for tools. There’s even a detachable bin to place other items in. The bin can attach to the rear support of the ladder for storage when you don’t need it.

Cosco Three Step 5′ Lite Solutions Folding Step Ladder

cosco 5 foot step ladder
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 5 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 225 lbs. (Type II)
  • Ladder Weight: 7.5 lbs.

This three-step, 5-foot step ladder is fantastic for smaller jobs. It will help you reach about 9 feet safely, so you’ll probably be able to trim the hedges, change porch lights, and perform other normal outdoor tasks. And of course, that’s also a great height for indoor use!

You can safely use all three steps of this step ladder. The top step has extra depth to make you feel more secure as you stand on it, as well. The third step is about 34 inches off the ground, meaning a person of average height will be at about 8 ½ feet tall when standing on it.

The top handle is a tray that’s about 5 inches wide and deep enough to keep basic tools from rolling off.

Conclusion

A good ladder is an important tool for nearly every home – for use both indoors and out. Be sure to choose one high enough to serve all your needs, but there’s no need to overdo it. And for safety’s sake, observe all the rules for good ladder use! You might not reach the stars, but you’ll definitely be able to get your chores done more easily.