By Audrey Lynch
So now you know that you can get a traveler into and on your property, you need to think about the ground that you will be putting them on. Below are some words of wisdom when looking at the spot you intend on letting your travelers use.
Is it level: Generally, you are looking for a level piece of ground or pavement that will accommodate the vehicle. Motorhomes have less of an ability to tolerate a sloped area than travel trailers do. However, for general planning purposes, you really don’t want a slope that is any more than a 1-foot rise or drops over the course of half the length of a trailer. So, for a 30ft trailer, your slope should not be more than a 15:1 ratio (this is because the wheelbase is generally in the middle). Also, as we are discussing the ground make sure that the site is firm; soggy spots will only lead to potential ruts and stuck guests. No one wants this.
Is it solid: When choosing a location, it is important to make sure that the area is firm and drains well even during frequent or heavy rains. Depending on what size RVs you are hosting they could weigh more than 40,000 pounds and that weight will be distributed over a few tires, jacks, and the tongue. If the area is soft it would be easy for any vehicle - but especially a larger one - to settle into the ground. This can be prevented by making sure the area stays well drained and/or providing something to distribute the weight of the vehicle over larger areas – such as plywood boards to put under the jacks and tongue and maybe even the tires. Be mindful of where downspouts send their runoff and where any puddling naturally occurs in your yard.
Types of Surfaces:
Grass: Grass is the easiest surface to start with as you probably already have this! Things to note: if you rent your spot frequently or for long periods of time you will most likely end up with a path worn through your grass and ruts in your yard from the weight of the trailers compacting the earth where they park. (An off-topic consideration is be mindful of your calendar. Do you want to rest your yard? Make your property unavailable during this time on your profile calendar.) If the grass is not given time to recover between renters you could end up with a bare spot as the grass dies off. Its best to keep the grass in this area well mowed so that it retains as little moisture as possible and would be wise to consider keeping some extra plywood boards on hand in case it rains and your renters start sinking.
Mulch: Not a good option even though it is affordable. Mulch and woodchips retain moisture and do not compact to make firm footing, they are slick when wet and as they de-compose they create a soft layer of soil.
Gravel/Crushed Stone: It will assist with water drainage and keeping the area firmer. If you have a softer soil, consider digging down and starting with a few inches of larger rock and then topping that with the gravel. It’s cheaper than pouring concrete and it won’t crack. If you’d like to make sure it doesn’t spread around your yard consider sinking some railroad ties around the parking area to contain the gravel.
Blocks/Pavers: Easier to install than concrete and some consider this option more esthetically pleasing than other options. Pavers are thinner than concrete blocks and are more likely to crack unless you use an interlocking option. The great thing is both blocks and pavers are fairly easy to replace and provide a pretty firm surface to park on.
Asphalt/Concrete: This is the priciest and most permanent option, but also the easiest to maintain as long as it is installed correctly so that it doesn’t crack under the weight of an RV. When it is poured, make sure that the slab is level but topped with a slight crown so that the water runs off and doesn’t pool under the tires.
***A note about Asphalt: while its darker color hides oil leaks and stains better, it does tend to absorb the heat making it harder to cool a vehicle that is parked on it. It also softens at higher temperatures allowing jacks and tires to sink into it and leave impressions. If you have asphalt and live in a warmer climate it would be good to keep some plywood on hand to go under the jacks and tires.
Whichever option you choose, remember to keep the area well-drained and as firm as possible – if not you might get to experience the adventure of watching a stuck RV being towed. Not a pretty picture or a pretty bill.
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