A Northwest Bayside Retreat: Retaining Walls & Paver Patio

A Northwest Bayside Retreat: Retaining Walls & Paver Patio

The backyard of this bayside home was nothing more than a sloped lawn.

This before shot was taken on day one of this project.

We transformed it into flat, usable space for dining and entertaining by installing three retaining walls constructed of CornerStone block and a paver patio constructed with Belgard’s Catalina Grana pavers.

Captured in this video is a tour of the finished project!

Design by Emily Russell Landscape Architecture

Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties.

A Project of Firsts

A Project of Firsts

We wrapped up this landscaping project in the nick of time.

On the very day we closed for our holiday break, we completed our final tasks on this landscape designed by Landscape Designer and CPH, Megan Pulkkinen.

front entry landscaping

Javier fills the joints of the flagstone patio with sand.

We defined the edges between the beds and gravel pathways. We buried lighting wire and fluffed the mulch. And we cleaned up after ourselves, pressure washing hard surfaces which were caked with dirt from working in rainy, fall weather.

Truthfully, this landscaping project took longer than we anticipated.

November’s predictable rain and accompanying mud were definitely a factor. But also, this was a project of firsts.

It was our first time working with this particular patterned wall material manufactured by Allan Block, which required cutting almost every single individual piece of block as we stacked them.

constructing a retaining wall

Allan Block Europa in Rocky Mountain, consisting of five different blocks.

With retaining walls constructed of only one style of block, you simply stack the same sized block again and again until the wall is done. It’s a straightforward process.

In contrast, patterned walls are constructed of blocks of multiple sizes and shapes. The pattern must be followed and repeated with accuracy and attention.

Another first for us was installing this patterned paver patio with materials manufactured by Belgard, Catalina Grana pavers in Victorian.

Catalina Grana paver patio

Our clients step onto this paver patio from their front door.

As with the retaining wall, this paver patio consisted of three pavers with different shapes and sizes.

Once the pattern was established, it was followed with precision until completion. It’s no wonder that these patios take more time to construct than patios constructed of larger pavers that are all the same size.

In keeping with the theme, it was also our first time working with the Castohn line that manufactures the concrete steps you see here. Yes, concrete.

Castohn steps leading to entry way door

Rosetta Dimensional Steps from the Castohn line of products

These steps offer the look and feel of natural stone, without the massive irregularities in size and shape.

What you can’t know from looking at this photo is that we tore these steps down twice, in nonstop rain.

Colby wasn’t satisfied with the outcome of our first two attempts.

Excellent craftsmanship requires attention to detail. But it also requires the ability to work through challenging math to ensure equal spacing between the steps, which are all slightly sloped to drain water, and vary ever so slightly in height. Also, the steps had to line up with the tops of each wall.

Our third and final attempt was a success.

The best thing about a project of firsts is that we learn a lot in a short amount of time. And we take what we learn into future projects, with an expanded range of knowledge and experience.

Planting will be done later, by Megan and our shared clients, and we can’t wait to see this landscape filled with evergreen trees and shrubs.

front entry landscape kitsap

This project also featured concrete walkways, a flagstone patio, decorative basalt boulders and landscape lighting.

Our clients were very happy with the outcome of this landscaping project. You can read their testimonial on Houzz:

What’s your favorite retaining wall or paver materials? Let us know in the comment section below.

And if you’re interested in working with us to create a timeless and elegant front entry landscape like this one, contact us today to begin the consultation and estimating process.

Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties.

A Modern Northwest Cottage Garden

A Modern Northwest Cottage Garden

This Modern Northwest Cottage Garden in Sequim was designed by landscape architect Emily Russell. Sequim is not an area that we typically service due to the commute and unpredictable bridge openings.

This iPhone photo was taken the day we completed the landscape lighting.

If this project had come to us any other way than through our good friend Emily, chances are likely we would have said no.

In hindsight, saying yes was a brilliant decision. This project ended up being the brightest spot of a year – 2020 – that was riddled with hardship and uncertainty.

The job itself was totally in our wheelhouse, so to speak.

It included the installation of an extensive drainage system, an irrigation system, new garden beds and plants, pathways and edging, a new lawn, a fire pit patio, decorative rocks, cut stone steps, a formal courtyard, stamped concrete pathways and landscape lighting.

Typing all of that – it’s no wonder the project took us nearly the entire summer to install!

Day one of project. The San Juan Islands are in the background.

The grades – or what we call the “dirt work” – were mostly established prior to our work beginning. Some minor manipulation of the grades is usually needed to make sure we have proper slope for drainage purposes.

Below, you see hard pipe and funny pipe coming out of the ground. All of it signals weeks of digging, trenching, and laying and gluing pipe.

Juan and Angel rake rocks to be removed. The foundation of landscaping is raking and grading, a process that takes hours and days to do right.

On this water side of the property, the landscape’s most prominent feature is a fire pit and surrounding gravel and rock patio.

We decided to increase the size of the decorative rock used for this area during the installation process, due to the grand scale of the gravel fire pit patio and our clients’ expansive, water and sky views. This required careful maneuvering of the rocks while setting them with our mini-excavator and skid steer.

Our excavator may be a mini, but we got the job done.

The informal rock retention and garden bed in the photo below was not in Emily’s plan. During the construction process, we realized it was necessary due to the lower grade of the lawn area, and the higher placement of the gravel pathway against the deck that leads to the fire pit.

Changes to an original design are not uncommon, although we remain true to the designer’s vision as much as possible.

Our clients’ beautiful home was remodeled by general contractor Sam Yadon, who we worked closely with on this project.

At the front of the house is where the landscape really lives up to its name – A Modern Northwest Cottage Garden.

Formal courtyard plantings include a Boxwood hedge on the outside of the masonry, and a Sweet Box hedge on the inside. Dogwood trees were a requested feature and will look fantastic in bloom come spring.

Our client refers to her landscape as “party in the back, business in the front” with a smile.

The formal courtyard masonry work was done by Nootka Masonry, an outfit based in Sequim that does excellent work.

To really get a sense of this landscape, watch the video below.

It begins at the front door, in the courtyard area, and takes the viewer on a tour to the back waterside of the home. Watching it, one understands the significance of the gravel walkways as a connective feature, tying together all areas of this landscape.

Our clients selected a more upscale gravel “dust” product. Because it’s so fine, it actually compacts better than other gravels over time.


This was such a rewarding project to watch come together.

It gave us the opportunity to showcase our specific specialization of high-end landscaping and decorative concrete. It was also the largest landscape lighting project we’ve ever completed, and it allowed us to grow our knowledge about landscape lighting materials and best practices for installation.

iPhone images are all we have of this completed project, but we’re excited to return in spring to capture it with professional photography.

Landscape lighting brightens up the gravel dust pathways that connect all areas of this landscape.

Only low growing perennials and shrubs were planted against the water view.

Landscape edging preserves the integrity of materials remaining in place, and results in a clean and tidy appearance.

This fire pit patio acts as an outdoor room to enjoy time with friends and family.

Landscape lighting on trees creates an ambiance of elegance.

Truly, installing this Modern Northwest Cottage Garden was an awesome experience. Our clients were very happy.

Here’s what they had to say about working with us:

Hearing positive feedback from clients is what keeps us motivated.

Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think of this project!

And if you’re interested in working with us, please contact us. We’d love to hear how we can help you create the landscape of your dreams.

Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties.


A Northwest Beach Garden

A Northwest Beach Garden

This Port Orchard landscape was designed by Emily Russell Landscape Architecture.

These photos were taken one year after installation.

With an outdoor space like this one, sheltering in place doesn’t seem so bad!

Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties.

3-Column Water Feature

This 3-column water feature we constructed in Poulsbo is comprised of varying heights of columnar basalt. This elegant addition beautifully complements an already mature landscape.

Turn up your sound and enjoy!

Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

Poulsbo Concrete Driveway & Water Feature

This Poulsbo concrete driveway and water feature project was a collaboration between us and our client, Margaret, whose serene property in the Lofall area overlooks the Puget Sound and features a naturally-occurring stream, edible garden, flagstone patio sitting area, Japanese maple trees grown by her son, and retired racing pigeons. How’s that for interestingness?

tearing out old concrete

Before shot

After meeting with two other contractors, she chose to go with us because we specialize in both landscaping and concrete, and the combination was exactly what she needed to execute her plan.

In addition to ripping out the old and unsightly existing concrete driveway, there was a crooked concrete step connecting her porch to her front entry walkway that needed to be replaced. The materials she considered instead of concrete at the start of the project included flagstone and tile.

entry steps

Margaret and Colby discuss material options for the step. A concrete overlay was the chosen solution.

For practical purposes, she wanted an exposed aggregate finish for the driveway, but the driveway was just one part of the concrete installation. It conjoined the entry walkway that linked the driveway to her back patio. Margaret knew she wanted a contrasting, yet complimentary, finish to the exposed aggregate, yet had concerns about long-term maintenance and her close proximity to salty, marine air.

concrete walkway

The concrete step overlay was completed after the concrete walkway was poured and finished.

The consideration she put forth into selecting the right complimentary finish, texture and color is exactly the kind of involvement we appreciate from our clients. Concrete is longlasting when properly installed, and homeowners use their driveway on a daily basis. The importance of getting these aesthetic considerations just right cannot be overstated.

poulsbo concrete driveway

The concrete driveway was sealed with an industrial grade sealant to protect it from stains and marine air.

Roman Slate texture was selected for the borders of the exposed aggregate concrete driveway and walkway. Going this route—exposed aggregate for the body of the concrete with decorative borders at the outer edge—is a smart option because exposed aggregate is less costly than stamped or textured concrete, and the end result still features decorative customization.

poulsbo concrete driveway

Interesting sidenote: the shed-like structure in the back houses the retired racing pigeons.

Silversmoke was the color selected for integral coloring of all of the textured concrete, which was enhanced by powder antique release. For added contrast, liquid antique release was used as well.

stamped concrete walkway

This Roman Slate textured walkway connects the driveway to the back patio.

Early on, before some of these decisions had been made, Margaret decided that this was the perfect time to also install another water feature in her landscape. The naturally-occurring stream runs parallel with her home and the soothing sound of it is heard throughout the landscape. This new water feature has a different look, feel and sound altogether.

poulsbo concrete driveway and water feature

The splash and sound of this water feature was well considered prior to its construction.

The finished 3-column water feature is somewhat deceptive. Once erect and set in place, the grouping of the basalt columns is quite elegant. Moving them, however, is not! Particularly with an existing landscape that’s mature, with flagstone nearby already set in place. That being said, Colby and Elias enjoyed the process of constructing this water feature as it was our first one of this kind.

poulsbo landscaper

Margaret’s keen sense of plant design beautifully complements all of her hardscape features.

This concrete driveway and water feature project in Poulsbo was a rewarding experience for us because we had the opportunity to work with a landscape that has a lot of soul (yes, this can be felt), is still a work-in-progress (Margaret is already planning the next phase), and is a beautiful reflection of its owner.

Here’s what she had to say about us:

poulsbo landscaping contractor testimonial

Thank you, Margaret!

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Thanks for reading our blog.  Northwest Construction & Landscape, LLC is a Kitsap County landscaping company that offers landscaping, decorative concrete and lawn maintenance services to homes and businesses across Kitsap and Pierce counties. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.