Landscapes of the Month: Overcoming Steep Slope Challenges by the Chesapeake Bay - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Overcoming Steep Slope Challenges by the Chesapeake Bay

Located on the Chesapeake Bay, a newly purchased vacation home had set a list of goals with the intent to secure the house and foundation all while creating an environmentally friendly section of the shoreline. The home is positioned on a hill that borders the Chesapeake, and it has a clear waterfront view. Next, all the homeowners needed was someone to take on the project.

The client ended up hiring Live Green Landscape Associates, based in Reisterstown, Maryland, to take on this challenging project. They were familiar with Live Green Landscape.

Photo: Live Green Landscape Associates

“While the client for this project was not a new face from the commercial construction division, Mr. Carnaggio had never asked for us to work for him at his personal residence,” says Brandon Proescherat, vice president of commercial landscapes at Live Green Landscape Associates. “Since the commercial construction team knew the expectations of the client from working with him as a general contractor, it only made sense that the same commercial construction team worked for him at his house. Same names and the same faces.”

Due to the project’s success, Live Green Landscape Associates received a Gold Award in the 2021 Awards of Excellence.

“Achieving an Award of Excellence is all about pride of the team and appreciating the hard work that went into a project,” Proescherat says. “When the opportunity presents itself to not only present a unique project such as this one on a local level but on a national level, it is nice to celebrate the win with the entire company.”

The biggest challenge that the crew faced was working on the steep slope that led all the way from the backyard to the waterline. An access road had to be created in order to reach the bottom tier wall, and a construction sequence had to be assembled, beginning at the bottom of the property and working its way up and out of the site.

Before the project the slope had a steep wooden staircase.
Photo: Live Green Landscape Associates

Creating the road was incredibly difficult since it was tight and did not leave a lot of space for the crew to work with. On top of this, there was one singular gate that granted access to the area, making it a complex job when moving equipment, delivery trucks, machinery, and materials through it.

Nothing was allowed to be stockpiled on the actual site, so to combat this issue, everything had to be scheduled for delivery at the exact times that the crew needed it.

“The team had to devise a plan to cut an access road into the hillside and construct the walls in a fashion so that we worked our way out of the site,” Proescherat says, “The strategy worked seamlessly but took extra time and there was no margin for error between the left and right half sets of wall.”

There were also challenges presented by elevation/water table issues and combining six individual walls to create one individual feature.

For the water table, the bottom wall foot is three and a half inches above sea level, so the team faced a lot of issues to ensure the footer didn’t flood and the base was sturdy enough to begin wall construction.

When constructing the walls, it was important to ensure that, from left to right, the bottom tier was completed correctly, along with the mid and top tier.

Photo: Live Green Landscape Associates

“While the easiest way to construct the walls would be to build the bottom two tiers simultaneously then move to the mid-tiers to construct them together and to the top, that was not achievable,” Proescherat says, “The entire left three tiers had to be constructed before the right three tiers. Therefore, everything had to be perfect, and the team did just that!”

During project execution, the crew knew that they were removing a wooden wall that had previously been there. The existing retaining wall had old clay pipes drains that had been set behind it, which were collapsing.

Adding to this, the wall was rotten and contained termites, which caused the wall to collapse as they were attempting to remove it.

Photo: Live Green Landscape Associates

Another issue that was faced during project execution was how the crew tried to retain the pieces of the homeowner’s existing patio and landscape while still making the original wall flow into the homeowner’s initial landscape.

Live Green Landscape says that the hillside had originally been overgrown with bamboo and invasive vines, so when selecting the plant palette, they wanted to give the client a low-maintenance, coastal grassy vibe that showed off the retaining wall while still giving the homeowner a view of the Chesapeake Bay.

Despite all the challenges and execution issues, Live Green Landscape was able to successfully complete this project in three months.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2023.