It was great to have our travel trailer during work weekends up on the property, but we needed to move it out of the clearing that was eventually to be our orchard. We found a spot right next to the shed and the clearing that was perfect. There weren’t any large trees to cut down and the area would be somewhat shaded from the afternoon sun. The only problem was that part of this space was occupied by a large slash pile, and clearing this area was no small feat. It was probably the largest pile we had found on the property and it was full of wood rat nests, a few snakes (luckily no rattlers were found in this pile) and lots of poison oak. But we persevered and by early summer we had an area to park the trailer with a somewhat cleared area for a screened gazebo and campfire pit.
The first thing we did was to pour concrete pads where the trailer tires would rest. Then we constructed two walls on the upper and lower sides of a small slope the length plus a few feet of the trailer with 8′ landscape timbers. The upper walls were anchored into the hillside with rebar and concrete, see pictures below. Landscape timbers on the front and back completed the “frame”. We rolled out landscape fabric to control weeds and then laid a bed of about 3 inches of rock. This worked out great because it was easy to take our trailer on camping trips and then return it when done. One of the best parts of this project was that now we had a permanent spot to store our trailer instead of paying storage fees down home. In fact, the total cost of the concrete, rebar, landscape timbers, landscape cloth and rock was less than the cost of just a few months of storage!
- A Place For Our Trailer This was a perfect spot. Even though the area had one of the largest slash piles we had found, there weren't any big trees to cut down. That's Ray in there working the Weed Wench.
- A Really Big Slash Pile This was a really big slash pile with lots of poison oak running through rotting wood, deer mouse and wood rat nests, and a few fat snakes ;). This took quite a bit of time, elbow grease and sore muscles to clear, but we knew once it was done this was going to be a beautiful area of rest and relaxation for us.
- Concrete pads and retaining walls The concrete pads are poured and the retaining walls are taking shape!
- Retaining wall You can see how the retaining wall was anchored into the hillside. First a hole was drilled into the landscape timber and a fairly deep hole was dug into the hillside. Then rebar was bent into a wide U shape with one side pounded into the timber and the other into the hillside hole. Concrete was finally poured into the hole. Another landscape timber is placed on top to hide the hole and dirt covers the concrete.
- Mud No More Landscape fabric was laid down to prevent weeds (or at least slow them down) and crushed rock was laid on top.
- Nearly Done With just one landscape timber to place, we are almost done! Instead of fighting the oak tree roots, we decided to just let them be and built the retaining wall around the roots.
- Home Sweet Home Our travel trailer finds a new home. The best part is that we no longer have to pay to store it, nor do we have to haul it up for our work weekends!
Of course, as you know, one thing leads to another. When the rainy season started I quickly tired of the muddy “front porch”, so we decided to extend the trailer pad into a front porch. Luckily there was a large, straight pine tree that had fallen on our property, so we used this instead of the landscape timbers for the front retaining wall. Our son, Stephen, also had a few concrete blocks laying around his house, and he happily donated them to us for steps.
- A Muddy Front Porch With only an old pallet to step out onto, things got quite messy when the rainy season started. We needed a front porch!
- The Frame-up We decided that the length of a landscape timber - 8 feet - was wide enough for the front porch, especially since that area could hold a lot of chairs!
- Timber Retaining Wall This pine tree fell a few years back and would make a great low retaining wall for the front of the porch, along with a few already cemented together concrete blocks for steps.
- Taking Shape The front porch starts to take shape with all the retaining walls in place. Yup - that will do.
- Porch Steps We needed some porch steps because it was a doozy of a drop-off from the existing trailer steps to get to ground level. We had some left over landscape timbers, so we first put down some of the landscape fabric, a layer of rock, then the timber steps held together with rebar. This made a very solid step. That's Louie, our neighbor's dog, making sure we did it right!
- Porch Steps Complete The porch steps are all done and very solid. Now for the rock.
- Home Sweet Home This is the finished project. Now we could walk completely around the trailer on rock and didn't have to plant our shoes in mud. My trailer floor is much cleaner now!
Now that the trailer pad and front porch were done, our attention turned to our “front yard”. We needed some outdoor shaded areas that were screened to keep out the mosquitoes, gnats, yellow jackets and whatnots. We found a pop-up tent with screen for our outdoor dining room and a screened hexagon gazebo for our lounging area, and these worked out perfectly! Along with that, right in the middle of the clearing we put our fire pit that we purchased a few years ago from Cabela’s.
- Another Big Tree We needed to add a lot of dirt to this area so that the ground would be more level. So, we brought in these pine trees to act as retaining walls for all the dirt.
- Pine Trees Set With the pine trees cut and set into position we had a better idea of how big the area was going to be for our outdoor living area, which we call our "front yard". There's Louie again, watching our progress. I think he likes it!
- Leveling Up Once the trees were set, we raked a lot of dirt from up hill to down hill against the retaining walls. We also brought dirt in from other areas of the property and eventually had a fairly level area to place the gazebo, screened tent and fire pit.
- Outdoor Dining Room This has worked out great. We have had several barbeques with family and friends in this tent, and I am sure we will have many, many more!
- The Outdoor Living Room I found this screened-in gazebo at a discount grocery store for only $50! It is absolutely wonderful to sit in there on hot afternoons with a cold glass of tea and a good book!
We are completely comfortable now and have a place to lounge after a hard day of work. Last fall we had a barbeque with some of our neighbors and were able to easily fit 8 persons in the dining tent. Of course, my favorite place is around the fire pit in the evening – staring into the fire and dreaming of the day we can actually call this beautiful place our real home.