Summer Landscaping

Well, the summer project is underway and this is by no means a small one. The main emphasis is on landscaping my mother-in-laws yard at the mobile home that she now lives in. Her house of near on 40 years was far too big for one person and the stint at the senior living complex was not conducive to “living” so here we are at a scaled down version of her previous home.

Mobile homes have come a long way and this one at barely 10 years old has all that you could get in a regular house except “it’s mobile” you can put it on a trailer and move it to where you want. Anyway, I don’t know too much about mobile homes so I’ll get on and we’ll talk about the plans that we came up with on the yard.

The first priority was she wanted a small raised planter that would give enough ground to plant tomatoes and perennial flowers. The rest would be colored pavers and rock to minimize the amount of maintenance required together with ornamental flower pots. The side of the property would be rock with strategically place pavers, flower pots and an arbor with a gate that would lead to the somewhat private back yard. This was all quickly sketched out on a piece of paper but the details would be left to me and as I have said in previous posts, providing you do have an idea the details will come as the job progresses.

This mobile home was situated on a plot that had an east west aspect, that is, the front was facing west so the sun would stream in the front at late afternoon. The back where the planter will be situated will have sunlight during the first half of the day before falling into shadow. The main concern was not having enough sunlight for the plants but there was little option for anything else, this was the only place it could go. A raised planter would give a little additional light to the plants before succumbing to the late afternoon shadow so we had to decide on how tall it would be.

We had though about using regular block work for the retaining wall but something a little more rustic was required especially as it had to fit in with the privacy panels that would be erected at a later stage. Railway ties were another good option but on inspection these were chewed up pretty bad and way too wide for our requirement. We didn’t have the necessary real estate on one side as it was down to four or five feet from the coach to the back wall so the retaining wall had to be made with material of six inches or less to give a good balance between walkway and planter.

I was hoping to use railway ties because of the weight and by pegging them together it would create a stable fixture but the alternative I had decided on was to use pretreated construction lumber and rebar to pin them in place.

The first process was to cut back the soil on the two sides of the mobile home that would have the rock and pavers. This required a depth of four inches so most of the earth was shoveled to the back of the mobile home to be used in filling the planter but you can imagine how much soil is created from a 40′ x 6′ and 30′ x 6′ area let alone the amount of effort on my part to cut down to the four inch depth. You may be asking why not hire someone to do the donkey work but as the total plan had not been formulated it would be hard to get a fixed price and at the same time I’m getting plenty of exercise. As the amount of soil was gradually building up it was plain to see that a truck would be needed to haul aleast two thirds of it away, leaving just enough for the planter.

This hard labor took three full weekends to establish the foundation for the project but now with the soil cut back I could estimate how much lumber would be needed. It was decided to use 4″ x 4″ pretreated eight foot lengths of pine and half inch rebar to pin the sections in place. The height of the planter would be a full six sections giving it a total height of 21″ a nice height that you could also use as a seat. The rebar to retain this structure in place would be half inch diameter and 36″ long giving 16″ of steel pounded into the soil every couple of feet along the length of the structure. I figured that with the planter built Lego style and rebar to anchor it into position the force of the soil would complete the rigidity. So with the plan in place it’s time to purchase the materials.

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