Sometimes, when talking about where we live, we use the phrase “putting down roots.” Often, we mean connection to the community and investment in the location. Naturally, “putting down roots” metaphorically would mean you feel more settled in the spot where you live. But putting down roots literally could help you feel more settled, too. Taking time to amplify your mobile home’s landscaping can beautify the area and make you feel more at home and happy.
Just as good landscaping can reinvent an area, bad landscaping can drag it down. But identifying landscaping fails is only the first step. Once you’ve determined something is looking drab (or worse), it’s time for a solution. So, let’s take a look at possible mobile home landscaping mistakes. Better yet, let’s explore what to do about them!
And because it’s more fun to learn about things when people are involved, we’re going to imagine scenarios to illustrate our points. Time to introduce you to these imaginary people, their problems, and our solutions.
Zach and Taryn have a brand-spanking-new double wide on 10 acres. It’s a dream come true for them. (And a part of their carefully executed plan to own their property and their home debt-free.) It’s a beautiful place—slate-colored with white trim, a covered white porch, and white shutters.
A few weeks after move-in day, the couple is discussing why the view from the end of their driveway still doesn’t look right. Surrounded by their 10 acres, they can’t figure out why things still look barren. Then, they realize there’s no plant life around their home except for their mown lawn, fields, and nearby woods.
The couple figures that landscaping around their mobile home will make it look more permanent. Zach and Taryn plan to put in some tidily rounded bushes, then fill in around them with ornamental grasses and pink geraniums. And, for height, they’re bringing in two ornamental pear trees—one for each end of the house.
Short and squat
Shelley Daly has a very green thumb. She spends hours each week cultivating the landscape around her mobile home. As a result, it’s a lush, jungle-like spot that’s worthy of a spread in a gardening magazine.
For all she puts into it, though, Shelley is eternally perplexed by why it just looks wrong when she pulls in her driveway. Everything’s growing well. It’s a riot of color and no plants have blight. She decides to take photos from the road every day for a week or two to see if the different perspective will help her nail down her problem.
It does. On day 5, she realizes that everything in her garden is comparatively short. Nothing reaches much higher than her skirting. Once you combine that with her single story home’s low-pitch roof, everything just looks short.
Shelley decides it’s time for trees. She hopes they’ll lend an established appearance and, of course, height to her mobile home. Yes, it’s an investment. And yes, they’ll need some time before they surpass her mobile home in height.
But Shelley and her family plan to live in the mobile home for many years to come. So, she considers it an investment in their future.
Wild, weedy and not-so-wonderful
Michael isn’t much of an outdoorsman. When he was a kid, mowing the lawn was his weekly chore. As an adult, he decided home maintenance was up to him, and he didn’t see it as a pressing issue. Besides, working 60-70 hours a week doesn’t seem to leave much time for landscaping.
But lately he’s been realizing that his mobile home looks like it’s being taken over by nature. He wonders if passersby even know someone lives in this mobile home. Not to mention, some tall grass is obscuring the view out his bedroom window. And an odd plant is poking its way through the floorboards on his back deck (it’s prickly, too).
Michael finally gets the impetus he needs. His mom is coming for a visit. He’s an engineer, and he never does anything without making calculations first. When he first crunched numbers and decided on a manufactured home, his mom was taken aback. He never fully convinced her.
He figures this is his chance. If the home doesn’t look good on the outside, he’ll never win her over to his mobile-home-can-be-a-good-investment thinking. The wilds must be beaten back to the hedgerows at the edge of his “lawn.”
In true Michael fashion, he makes himself a list of list of things to do, noting some things he’ll need to buy, too. Then, he heads to his local home improvement store because he doesn’t actually own a wheelbarrow.
- Mow all grass (will take 2-3 passes with the blade high on the first pass—he really let the grass take over).
- Gas (he ran out last time he tried to mow the lawn)
- Tear out all random plants around mobile home front and back. Will require the following:
- Tough gloves (Why are all his weeds thorny, anyway?)
- Shovel (for the tough roots)
- Long-handled garden clippers
Michael takes a whole weekend and works hard. When the weeds are gone and the lawn is mowed, he surprises himself by wanting to do more. So, he heads back to the home improvement store for mulch. It makes the front of the house look amazing paired with the two potted plants he just purchased. He’s finally ready for his mom’s visit.
Tom and Debra just retired. They left their home in the upper midwest for a 55+ manufactured home community in Florida. Finally, they were ready to ditch winter and enjoy warmth year round. Their community is friendly, welcoming, and there’s plenty to keep them busy in neighboring towns.
Debra loves the beach cottage feel of their mobile home—inside and out. What she does not love is the asphalt. It’s everywhere. There really isn’t a lawn—unless you count the few square feet of grass at one end of the home.
Debra’s lost. She used to keep a tidy landscape in her previous home. While she never thought of herself as a gardener, there were always some perennials in front of her hedges. Things just look so un-home-like without plant life.
Debra grabs her cell phone and snaps a few pictures. She emails them to a friend who used to go to book club with her. Since the friend is a master gardener, Debra asks for her thoughts. “How do you garden when you don’t have dirt?” Debra asks.
Debra’s friend is full of ideas. “I’m sure you’ve already thought of pots,” she says. But, she points out that pots can be used for a lot more than a simple lineup. She suggests a couple more elaborate ideas than lining the perimeter of the house with terracotta and flowers.
- Create a tiered structure that runs the length of the mobile home. Assemble pots of flowers and green plants according to height to create a “hedge” of plant life that abuts the mobile home.
- Cultivate climbers on lattice oriented lengthwise and leaned against the base of the home.
- Flank the front door with enormous pots. But they don’t need flowers—go for trees, instead.
- Bring in window boxes for pops of color when there’s no available ground.
Alita and Wayne purchased a mobile home from Wayne’s aunt who is moving into assisted living. It’s a great time for them to move because they need to downsize anyway. Plus, they’re saving to launch a small company in 1-2 years.
The house is in great condition, and it’s been impeccably maintained. But, the surroundings leave a lot to be desired. Wayne’s aunt loved to collect small figurines, little dolls, ceramic animals, and memorabilia from her travels. The landscape features her eclectic collection in, around, under, and on every bush, tree, pot, path, driveway, and step. (Alita counted 17 wind chimes in the property’s trees).
Alita and Wayne know they’ll have to completely overhaul the outdoors. But they do want to respect their aunt, and they know she was attached to things. So, before they begin takedown, they snap photos of everything. Later, they’ll put them in a photo album and bring it when they visit her.
Next, it’s time for the takedown. Aleta gathers knickknacks from garden beds and plucks hanging items off tree branches. Wayne travels around the yard with a wheelbarrow extracting garden flags, shepherds hooks, pinwheels, and more.
Once the whole area is clear, the couple lets things sit for a week while they mull their options. The property has a lot of established trees. So, they decide to mulch around each one. The smaller trees will get mulch alone. The larger ones will get mulch and purple flowers.
While they’re at it with the mulch, they recreate the beds bordering the home’s front. They ditch the chipped bricks that outlined the beds. And they edge the beds carefully with a trowel—for a more natural look. In go azaleas and some hostas, too.
Jose and Ella don’t have time to landscape. With 3 kids under 3 and plenty of bills to pay, they’re busy. Plus, when they do have extra time, they’d rather spend it with one another, their kids, or their friends.
They do try to carve out time to mow the lawn. After all, they need room for the kids to enjoy the sunshine & outdoors. But, even that project always seems to get interrupted (sometimes by naptimes cut short). Plus, the lawnmower broke down last time they tried anyway.
Their yard is feeling increasingly chaotic. Not only did they inherit some leftover junk from the previous homeowners, but seems like they haven’t gotten those old bed frames to the landfill yet either. And there’s a broken lawnmower rusting by the fence now, too.
The couple starts by gathering and throwing away small trash items like stray paper cups and last autumn’s gourds and pumpkins. Next up—borrowing a trailer. They truck all the old furniture and equipment to the landfill. Finally, they feel like they have a clean slate.
They still don’t always manage to mow as often as they want, but at least there are no hazardous items out there anymore. And an unmown lawn doesn’t look as bad when it’s not surrounded by random items that never made it to the trash.
Skirting as the star
Star Spangled Homes has mobile homes all over the country. They’re vacation or short-term rentals so they need to be visually appealing. And the company tries hard to maximize quality while minimizing the cost of maintenance. (High maintenance costs could cut into their profits).
To ensure customer satisfaction, Star Spangled Homes monitors the ratings their customers leave on various websites. They also ask customers to fill out an experience survey after their stay. One point that’s been raised over and over is that the homes are lacking aesthetically on the outside. Specifically, customers have mentioned that the skirting sticks out—”like a sore thumb” to use one customer’s terminology.
Skirting is common on mobile homes. And there are many different kinds available. Star Spangled Homes has vinyl skirting on some homes and metal skirting on others. Additionally, they have faux brick panels and even faux stone on some rentals.
Even though their skirting is clean, intact, and good quality, it seems customers still find it offputting. “It’s like it screams ‘mobile home’ at you as soon as you pull in,” one customer commented.
The Public Relations and Communications team alerts company bosses to the recurring negative comments about skirting. Instead of changing the skirting itself, the company decides to take a different tack. They’ll landscape with the goal of partially obscuring the skirting.
To keep costs low, they’ll assign the jobs to their local property managers. However, they do consult with a professional landscaper initially who recommends a combination of shrubs and flowers in varying heights. Together, they form an adaptable plan. They don’t want to create exact landscaping directions because their home span the country (thus they’re in different hardiness zones). Some are in the desert; some are New England forests.
Instead, their plan specifies general types and sizes of plants. They direct property managers to introduce some plants that will reach only part-way up the skirting and others that will reach windowsills and beyond. They even include helpful graphics for possible landscape layouts. Plus, they point property managers to relevant resources for discovering what plants will grow well in their area.
Two years later, their analytics indicate that negative comments about skirting have decreased. At the same time, positive comments about mobile homes’ surroundings have increased.
Let your mobile home landscape shine
We hope these examples have covered the mobile home landscaping problems you find cropping up around you. As you implement some of the solutions, we hope you find yourself become more rooted to your home and surroundings.
Remember that your landscape is just one part of your mobile home’s total picture. For one thing, there’s also your mobile home porch. Head to our How To Make Potted Plants Look Beautiful On Your Mobile Home Porch to revamp it. Also, check out our 12 Modern Upgrades For Your Mobile Home Porch & Outdoor Living Area. And to complement your landscape, take on Mobile Home Hardscaping | How To Get Started + Design Ideas.