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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.

Referral Incentives

At our latest marketing brainstorm session an idea sprung up. Referral incentives. Our #1 source of new jobs is always postive testimonials and word of mouth referrals (by the by, we have a new testimonial form on our website, be the first to leave one!).  These days with such a glut of advertising thrown at consumers, they’re most likely to trust the referral of a friend rather than any advertising money can buy. 

As the discussion continued, some felt it was wrong to “buy” referrals with a reward system, it felt dishonest somehow. Of course, we would not want you to refer our services for any reason other than your genuine high opinion. On the other hand, we want to ensure that when an opportunity comes to refer us, you jump at the chance. Also, since you’re our best advertisers, we think you should be rewarded! But it doesn’t matter what WE think, we want to know what YOU think!

What do you think of referral incentives?

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Welcome to our new website! We have redesigned to offer a more interactive site, we hope you will enjoy it! We kept some of the old favorites, such as the Project Planning Guide, our History and photos of Our Team, see photos of our best work including many Water Features in the Gallery, check out the Sandscapes page, or get some help choosing plants with our Featured Beach Plants and Deer Resistant Plants.

We would like to point out some of our new features, such as this blog. We’re very exited to be able to provide landscape tips and advice right here on our website! We hope you will use the blog to post comments, ask questions, and tell us what you would like to see here! We have also tried to make our Contact Form easy to find and use, you will see it in the right hand column of every page. This form is sent directly to our email which is checked daily. Your request will be answered in 1-2 business days. We have also added a search feature in the right hand column directly above the contact form. Use the search feature to easily find what you’re looking for whether it be photos, articles, or information about one of our featured plants. Also new is our current project page where you can see what we’re working on right now. We hope to continue to refine this page so customers can see progress photos on work at their beach home or other second residence. A new feature I’m very excited about is our Plant of the Month. Every month one of our favorite plants will be featured, and with 32 years experience in the area, be assured they will all be “Tried and True”.

Another new feature we hope you will use is our Testimonials page. If you have worked with us before, or have seen and appreciated our work, please let others know by posting your experience as a testimonial. We appreciate the support of old customers and look forward to working with new ones.