In any craft it’s always good to introduce fresh perspectives to keep things interesting, and what better way than getting some young blood in the game. Our January HARDSCAPE HERO award puts Cross Creek Nursery’s Owen Ness, one of our youngest winners ever, front and center with an amazing project. While Cross Creek has basked in the spotlight plenty of times, this is Owen’s first win and he’s kicking it off with a bang.

Owen Ness got his start when he was 18 years old, having decided that college wasn’t the right path for him. “I wasn’t good at sitting in a classroom setting and I’d always liked building things with my dad, so I decided to pursue a trade,” says Owen.  He started out as a laborer with Commonwealth Curb Appeal and moved up from there, eventually taking a position with Cross Creek Nursery. As of January, Owen was promoted to project manager at the company where he oversees the installation process. Even with his new responsibilities, Owen loves laying down pavers himself and completed the winning project with a three-man team in just 28 days.

Owen started with the lower patio and worked his way up the hill, stopping in sections to check in with the homeowners. “I like to get to a place where one section is pretty much complete,” says Owen, “that way the clients can ask any questions or request additions before we move on to the next part.” This project required particular attention to detail during the planning and execution of the install. “The homeowners’ daughter is in a wheelchair,” explains Owen, “and the grade of the backyard was incredibly steep, so we built a switchback ramp with ADA compliance so that she could get from the house to the patio at the bottom of the hill.” Adhering to those guidelines meant extensive planning before a single block touched the ground. 

“The one thing I did enjoy in school was math,” Owen says chuckling, “and it’s really satisfying to carefully map everything out and watch it come together as planned.” And the team at Cross Creek needed all the math they could get, with a 122” drop from the driveway to the patio all of their measurements needed to be spot on to make sure the ramp met the ADA requirements.

The challenges that the hill presented only got more complicated when things got wet. Owen and his two crew mates had to construct a temporary road with gravel in order to get their equipment up and down the muddy slope. “Again that’s where the planning came into play,” remembers Owen, “we weren’t able to stage everything in place, so we had to plan it all out to the T and haul the material down the hill when it was ready to be installed.” With five switchbacks on the ramp, this was the biggest ADA job Owen had ever done. “My favorite part of the project is that ramp,” says Owen smiling, “it was super gratifying to see it come together, and when the clients saw it, the wife cried. It was the first time their daughter was ever able to go in her own back yard.” 

Owen’s attention to detail and work ethic started when he was working as a laborer at his first hardscaping job. “My advice to anyone getting into this business is to not be afraid of starting at the bottom. If you work hard at every level and are eager to learn, you have the keys to success.” Even though he’s been in the business for eight years, Owen Ness is just getting started, and with the work he’s doing already at such a young age we can’t wait to see what he does with the Cross Creek Nursery team next.


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The Crew:

Roberto Rodriguez

The following Belgard products were used in this project:

Diamond 10DS – James River
Weston Wall Block – James River
Aspen Fire Pit Kit – James River
Coping Stone – Jefferson
London Cobble 6×9 – Jefferson