Tiki Tree & Landscaping

Congratulations to June’s Hardscape Hero, TJ Soderholm, owner of Tiki Tree & Landscape. TJ has been in the industry for 10 years and he specializes in general landscaping, tree care and removal, and hardscapes.

TJ’s winning project began with a homeowner wanting to install a pool. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to and had TJ help them pivot to a new plan. Their yard was scarred by a couple of failed landscaping projects and an out of date, worn down deck. TJ was able to save the day, designing a beautiful multi-tiered patio and grill area instead, for around the same amount of money. “The biggest thing was staying within the budget…they wanted lights and were flexible about changing up the design” said Soderholm.

TJ helped the homeowners visualize the project by sketching it out for them, and walking the property. “I sometimes use a table to show the client how it can interact with the patio. Seeing it in the space makes people think about things like ‘will someone have to step off the paver to walk around the table?’” Soderholm says he makes a point of showing homeowners how traffic will flow around their patio when planning the job.

Besides helping homeowners visualize how a patio will actually work with furniture on it, TJ also spends time making sure homeowners pick the right color and material for their project. “ My passion growing up was art I thought I wanted to be a designer, but I found having on the job training was more important.”

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TJ’s artistic background is evident in his work however. He says he always makes a point of studying a homeowner’s roof color, and the colors of their foundation when on site. He uses these colors to make recommendations on what products to choose. TJ’s winning project used a combination of CottageStone and Highland Stone in the Richmond and James River colors, respectively. “I have a box of {Eagle Bay} catalogs and love being able to show the diversity of project possibilities and all the color choices.”

The biggest challenge for this project was the variety of level changes in the backyard. TJ had to figure out how to make the yard flow organically while still accounting for uneven terrain. His answer? A natural looking wood breezeway built flush from the house to the patio. By leveling the terrain with this decorative wood element, the homeowners are able to walk straight out of their back door and onto the patio, rather than having to go up and down stairs.

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“It was difficult, but we took the measurements and used the deck to extend the breezeway from their house. It was all about preparation. It needed to be something that would fit the space and have a flow without looking weird,” says Soderholm. He makes a practice of observing changes in level when on site and considers them when thinking about what the homeowner is trying to accomplish. This winning project definitely shows that practice makes perfect.

The project took a unique turn when TJ and his wife made the connection that the homeowner was actually his wife’swsq first grade teacher. TJ’s wife, now a second grade teacher, remembered her well. “We gave her a little fountain to say ‘thanks’. It’s symbolizes the cycle of knowledge. She passed it to my wife who now gives it to her students.”

Want to be our next Hardscape Hero? Submit your project here.