Steep Slope Inspections

Plan and Maintain Your Steep Slope

We provide steep slope inspections on coastal bluffs across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Puget Sound.

Our team inspects for aggravating conditions that increase erosion and slope instability, then outline and summarize our findings and specific recommendations into a report the landowner can use for planning, budgeting and scoping the work. This allows owners to prioritize different solutions that reduce erosion and slope instability. Random and geologically induced landslides are not something landowners can easily manage, but landowners can make decisions that stop themselves from inducing erosion and landslides.

Two of our consultants – Jessica Mullin and John Bornsworth – are highly trained and experienced at managing vegetation and drainage on these sensitive environments. Both John and Jessica are Registered Consulting Arborists and John is a Board Certified Master Arborist.

Call to schedule your steep slope inspection.

Many steep slopes of the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca erode naturally. This process of erosion, sediment and nutrient cycling is a primary component of our local ecology which directly benefit salmon and orca populations. While these processes cannot be stopped we can manage non-natural erosion and landslide events commonly caused by mismanaged stormwater and mismanaged vegetation.

During this service a professional inspects your property to evaluate and characterize a range of factors. We then synthesize this inspection information into a workplan which details general and specific recommendations and their priorities. This workplan describes your current conditions, while also describing how your sloped landscape functions as a primary component of shoreline ecology. It then offers both general and specific recommendations to properly manage upland, sloped and beach vegetation, and how to properly manage drainage.

We are not geologists or geotechnical engineers. We commonly work in tandem with those service providers, but generally we provide altogether different and more detailed information related to vegetation management, stormwater and localized erosion than geologists and geotechnical engineers.

Does your slope need increased drainage?

We provide steep slope drainage and tightline services to single and multi family developments throughout the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca. We also provide hydroseeding services specifically for erosion control.

Feeder Bluffs

Puget Sound has more than 1,400 miles of beaches, most built from sand and gravel eroded from nearby bluffs. A feeder bluff is an eroding coastal bluff that delivers sand, gravel and organic matter to a beach over time. Feeder bluffs contribute to the amount of sediment and nutrients on the beach below. These processes influence the formation of spawning habitat which salmon and orca depend on, the accumulation of large wood and organic debris, and maintenance of riparian forest and other coastal habitats. The beach itself supports a variety of habitats, ranging from substrate for forage fish spawning to tidal wetlands behind spits.


Landslides are a natural phenomena of Puget Sound’s feeder bluffs. While stopping the occurrence of landslides is practically impossible, landowners should at minimum stop themselves from inducing landslides. The majority of landslides we see annually are caused by improperly managed stormwater and vegetation. Common causes of landslides are cracked, broken and disconnected drain pipes, gutters and pipes releasing stormwater at the top of the slope, not retaining a strip of native plants along the slope crest, and removal of significant trees along the bluff.


As Certified Arborists we understand trees and their functions. Shrubs, trees and ground cover are crucial to both erosion control and slope stability. When landowners clear sections of trees and shrubs to increase their views, they put their home in danager of damage. Large trees can be retained and pruned to allow for view corridors, while the correct species of shrubs will intercept rainwater energy and not grow tall enough to enter your view. Vegetation planning is an important component of managing your bluff property.


Properly managed drainage on steep slopes is crucial. The majority of homes we visit are still using black-corrugated polyethylene piping, a cheap and short-lived product, to convey water down a hill. These pipes commonly break and leak onto slopes leading to slope instability. Further, many contractors who install residential stormwater solutions don’t grasp the complexity involved in managing drains on volatile bluffs. We’ve seen over a dozen landslides simply from improperly installed stormwater systems during our tenure. A number of our staff are Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Leads certified by the Department of Ecology.