Ann, technically speaking, this local practice does not comply with the NEC. The NEC likes them close to the wall, and completely buried.
This location was a rare one, in that there is actually a nice lawn! uauallym the rod location is on a slope, in the middle of a row of shrubs, etc, so the tripping hazard would not exist. If it makes you feel any better, I think the rod is still within a foot of the wall.
The NEC actually used to like the rod at the 'drip line', for better conductivity. Then, as noted here, the gardner started hitting them with the lawnmower- this led to heavier wire, solid wire, and, finally, calling for the wire to be in pipe. That, in turn, led to all sorts of debate over how to connect it to the rod.
As for the 8ft issue, here thay address that by requiring 10ft rods. Of course, many is the time I could only get 6ft. in the ground ... so I usually end up driving two rods