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We build landscapes in Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Mercer Island, king County, Snohomish County and the entire Puget Sound area.


Seattle Rockeries designs structural landscapes using and retaining walls using natural stone, boulders, rockeries, slab steps and pathways


Seattle Rockeries specializes in building functional landscapes and designing hardscapes using high quality stone and construction methods.

Blowout Failure

This happens when: A load is added within 3 feet of the top of the wall. The wall then leans out at the top and eventually tips over.

What to do: Plan your landscape with a Seattle Rockeries architect or engineer if a car or pool will be placed near the wall. Our retaining wall designs will include a strengthened footer and increased number of tiebacks or deadmen to add strength.

Wet-Soil Failure

What happens: Soil behind the wall gets saturated with rain and storm water, causing hydrostatic water pressure and weight to topple the wall.

What to do: Seattle Rockeries builds our retaining walls with gravel drainage and waterways to route exess rain and storm water to protect from oversaturating the soil behind the retaining wall.

Retaining walls reduce the angle of a slope so it is easier to plant, walk on or use as an accesible landscape. Retaining Walls are typically made by 'cutting and filling'; a practise of excavating a portion of the slope and then using the cut soil to backfill behind the retaining wall creating a relatively flat area. A single retaining wall may be enough to support a short stretch of slope, while a series of parallel retaining walls is often used to support larger slopes.


The taller the retaining walls are and the closer they are together, the flatter the slope is above them. Terraces are created when a retaining wall is tall enough to create a level surface above it. Terraces are necessary for pathways, lawns, patios, vegetable gardens and other areas where people need to move around comfortably. But if the goal is only to plant the landscape with ornamentals, the retaining walls can be shorter -- most groundcovers will thrive on slopes as steep 45 degrees, but getting the slope down to about 20 degrees opens up more possibilities for landscaping.

Retaining Walls Material and Construction

Retaining walls are built with natural stone, concrete blocks, railroad ties and a variety of other materials. Seattle Rockeries uses material that match the look of your house and fit with the overall style of your landscape. Sticking with the same material for all the walls and stairs is a wise choice because it gives cohesiveness to the overall design.

Retaining walls over three feet tall generally require a building permit and should be built by a professional contractor. Retaining walls of any size need to be built on compacted subsoil to prevent them from settling over time and need a perforated drain pipe and a layer of drainage gravel behind them so water can flow away rather than build up behind the wall. Walls may be constructed with a perfectly vertical profile or angled slightly into the hill which reduces the complexity of building them.

Multilevel landscape design includes a combination of retaining walls of varying heights, flat terraces, moderately sloped areas, and landscape features that are created together with walking paths and stairways. For a grand, formal look, route the stairs straight up the middle of a series of retaining walls. Alternatively, break up the landscape by using the stairs to go from one terrace to the next in different areas, using pathways along the terraces to connect them.

Wherever access by foot is not needed, it's fine to leave the slope steeper (no more than 45 degrees) and use those areas just for planting. You can make planting shelves, like mini-terraces, to create a focal point, as well as flat ground to plant on, for individual trees on areas of steep slopes. On the flatter areas, build small beds and fill them with rich topsoil for flowers or vegetables and herbs, if desired. The best approach is to use a single material for all walls, stairs and beds and weave them together into a single design.

The following landscape techniques can be integrated with terraces and retaining walls or used independently. Because they are all freestanding structures, they can also be used to create multi-level interest in flat yards.


Building a large terrace allows you to build a patio for outdoor gathering, but you can often get more space with a deck. Because they are made of wood and elevated off the ground, decks also have a very different feel than a terrace and can be used to make a multi-level design even more dynamic.


Decks and trellises often go hand in hand. The exposed underside of a deck on the downhill slope can be concealed with lattice work planted with vines. Trellises are also useful around the sides of a deck as a visual screen. In any way you choose to integrate them, trellises are yet another way to add vertical levels to the design.

Living Walls

Living walls can be integrated with retaining walls, attached to the exterior of the home or erected as free-standing structures. They are specially designed structures that provide a growing medium for plants (often succulents) and have a built-in irrigation system. Unlike other vertical structures, they appear as a living wall of vegetation rather than a hard surface.


A boardwalk is an elevated wooden pathway that is built in the same way as a deck. They are easily integrated with wooden stairs and deck areas and are a viable alternative to ground level terrace and stair systems for getting around on a steep slope.

If your yard is skinny, consider adding height! Create visual interest and interesting views by creating multiple levels to your yard. Add a multi-level deck to create defined spaces, such as an outdoor kitchen or reading area. No matter where you are in your yard you’ll have a varied and diverse view.


Seattle Retaining Wall Contractor

Seattle Rockeries is a retaining wall contractor who specializes in designing and building retaining walls using stone, boulders, rock and concrete. Retaining walls are used to create level areas within sloped landscapes to retain soil and create usable space for garden and landscape designs. We use quality materials and staff expert retaining wall engineers and retaining wall construction experts to form long lasting retaining walls in your outdoor landscapes.

Retaining walls are used to stabilize soil and help prevent erosion. Retaining Walls create terraces and strengthen your landscape during bad weather and rainy seasons. Retaining walls are installed with drainage systems to prevent soil over saturation and divert water from pooling in any one area of your landscape.




Multilevel landscape designs are created using retaining walls, terraces, steps, decks, and features that create accessible planting beds and areas for outdoor recreation on sloped terrain. Creating a stable multi level landspace can be a fairly complex, costly that requires expert assistance to execute. Seattle Rockeries specializes in planning and building multi level landscapes using experienced landscape designers and cost effective construction methods.

Some of these features can even be used to create a multi-level effect to add interest in a relatively flat landscape.


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About Seattle Rockeries

Seattle Rockeries creates hardscapes and landscapes using stones, boulders and concrete structures.

Hardscaping creates structures that can be used on slopes and hills to prevent erosion and create water barriers or drainage.