Creative Solutions – Narrow Easement / Retaining Block Steps


A narrow property easement can be problematic to landscape, especially if you have a sloping property and you need a set of steps alongside the house. That was the case at this beautiful home on Summit Lake just outside of Olympia. Foster met with the homeowner to come up with a Creative Solution.

The Problem: A narrow property easment didn’t leave much room for a set of steps. A steep property and retired homeowners with limited agility made it difficult to get down to the water from their existing deck.

The Objective: The homeowners wanted to make traversing up and down the hill less difficult and at the same time landscape the easment with a low maintenance design.

RSW’s Creative Solution: Foster designed Retaining Block Steps that were skinny enough to fit even the narrowest part of the easement. We even met with the homeowner and measured her natural gait to make sure the rise and run of the steps would be comfortable for her. The steps were carefully designed to meander down the hill making them more pleasant to climb than a strait run. We also added river rock to either side of the steps to create a virtually maintenance free area. We planted and barked an area at the top of the stairs to soften the appearance of the stone steps and add visual interest.Column 1/3

The Process: Since it was such a narrow area all work had to be done by hand. After excavating and grading the area a base laver of rock was used to set the retainer blocks following painted guidelines that traversed the hillside. The blocks were carefully set and leveled then another layer of crushed rock was added to create an even grade. Fabric was layed under varied sizes of river rock to either side to prevent perennial weed growth. We dry stacked angular granite pieces to create a raised planting area. This creates a planting area that is easy to maintain, plants can be groomed and beds weeded without having to kneel or bend over. Bark mulch (without fabric) was added to inhibit perennial weed growth.


Do you have a narrow easement or a steep property? Rodda & Sons West may be able to help you with a Creative Solution. Or, if you’re handy, this could be your next DIY project. No matter what you decide, we wish you luck with your landscaping endeavors. Don’t forget to give us a call if you need a Creative Solution.