Building on a steep grade can give a home a grand appearance, but can also limit the usable landscaping space outside the house. When Richard Sifton and his wife Sandy were building a new home outside London, Ontario, they were faced with a challenge—creating an inviting, usable outdoor living space in their steeply sloping backyard.
Richard Sifton is no stranger to the construction industry. As CEO of Sifton Properties, Richard oversees 1,000 employees. The company has been owned and operated by the Sifton family for 86 years, and today it specializes in new homes, neighborhood developments, commercial leasing, residential rentals, and senior living.
So when it came to designing the landscape in his own backyard, Richard called in local experts to make sure the job was done right. The Siftons wanted to install an in-ground pool, cabana, and gardens that felt like an extension of the house. The challenge? The total grade change from the bottom of the lot to the house was 5.86 meters (19.23 ft.).
To tackle this challenge, the owners assembled a comprehensive design team. Landscape Architect Ron Koudys was initially retained to encompass their desires onto paper, while wall experts from Brown’s Concrete Products Limited and Peto MacCallum Ltd. Consulting Engineers designed the structural walls that made the landscape possible. Stone in Style Landscaping Limited provided insight into the unique transportation and installation challenges presented by the site.
Koudys’ goal in the design was to integrate the swimming pool and the cabana structures into a landscape surrounded by existing trees on the steep slope. “We were looking for a wall building material that would allow us to hold back the grade, and would deal with the significant loads that the slope would put on the wall. The goal was to create a structure that was attractive and visually interesting,” Koudys said.
After ruling out natural stone due to engineering and scale concerns, Koudys presented the Siftons with the option of using Rosetta Hardscapes Outcropping Collection, a precast wall system that creates grand, structural walls with the look, colors and textures of highly weathered natural stone.
“Using Rosetta allowed us to install the walls at a very difficult site more easily,” Richard Sifton added. “The color of the stone matched the existing landscape fairly well. We’re very happy with it.”
One of the biggest challenges Koudys faced in designing a series of walls to tackle the 5.86 meter (19.23 ft.) grade change was reducing the walls’ engineered appearance. His goal was make the Rosetta Outcropping walls look like a part of the natural landscape, rather than an imposition.
“That’s one of the things Rosetta has done really well. They’ve paid attention to the aesthetics as well as the functional aspects of the retaining wall,” Koudys said. “I can think of less expensive retaining wall solutions, but they look like they belong along a major highway. The scale of Rosetta is more in line with the residential experience—sitting by a pool, enjoying the yard.”
Koudys designed three tiers of curving retaining walls to create level ground for the pool as well as a garden area.
A walkway made of Rosetta Steps led from one tier to the next. Considering the significant load bearing capacity each wall required, the engineers designed the walls to be reinforced with Paraweb strap as well as geogrid.
Access to the property was very limited and the native soil had very high clay content, making the design of the walls even more challenging. During construction, Stone In Style’s crew used as much on site materials as possible. In total, the walls required 204.4 sq. m (2,200 sq. ft.) of Rosetta blocks in the Rideau Blend color scheme.
The design flexibility, color options, and structural integrity of the Rosetta Outcropping Collection ultimately gave the Sifton family a usable, inviting backyard that they could enjoy in spite of the steep grade change.
In addition to the Outcropping Collection, the Rosetta Belvedere Collection is a hand-set line of wall solutions perfect for smaller scale projects such as garden walls, columns, freestanding walls, or seat walls. The Rosetta Grand Flagstone Collection is a stone slab system for building dimensionally consistent, easy-toinstall walkways and patios.
Imagine what your next project could look like with Rosetta. For wall inspiration and engineering support, visit www. discoverrosetta.com today!