Cob House Building – Updates and Adaptability

Rain, Hail and Weeds – Oh My!

More rain over the weekend, but we were able to do some cleaning up in the yard before the water and hail hammered us on Sunday. We’ve had a pile of junk sitting along the side of the garage for quite some time now. Part of the pile was concrete and rubble from previous construction done on the front walkway of the house. About a month ago, we were able to get that hauled off…and it took quite a dent in our pocketbook (but that’s relative, of course…one person’s fortune is another’s night out). Concrete is pretty expensive to get rid of, sad to say. With that out of the way, we regained about 25 square feet and had to wait awhile to save up for the next bunch of junk to be taken away.

However, I learned from our refuse company that having a bin delivered to your house for a week or so costs less than $100, so I jumped on the chance to get rid of the rest of the junk. We’ve now gained another 20 square feet of land! Woot!! It’s looking more and more like a yard and less and less like a scrap pile.

Although, with all this rain, the weeds were rapidly taking over the parts of the yard I haven’t yet done. *groan* I brought the weed whacker out and chopped down what was reaching knee-height. It’s not grass, but it’s green! LOL…and manageable now. We learned a new trick – using cardboard to cover weeded or grassed areas. Not only is the lack of sun supposed to kill the weeds/grass, but the cardboard breaks down to make richer soil. Nice. It’s free covering (who doesn’t have a few boxes laying around OR isn’t able to pick some up from their local grocer) so we’re going to try that out and see what happens to the experimental patch of weeds. Instructions:

  1. Open the boxes to where they’re flat.
  2. Lay them down over the patch of weeds/grass you’d like to control (or make into a flower bed or vegetable garden)
  3. Use bricks or rocks to hold the cardboard down
  4. Water  occasionally to help with the breaking down of the cardboard

As I understand it, it takes a couple of weeks for the vegetation to die underneath. We’re experimenting. We’ll see how it goes. My mother-in-law shared the Cardboard Gardening article with us from a magazine called Birds & Blooms and they had some great suggestions on how to use this technique: to start a flower bed or garden patch, use shoe boxes for container gardens or to start seedlings (just put the plant right into the ground with the box), create a garden pathway…among other suggestions. I recommend checking it out.

Adapting to Climates – Preparation

As for adaptability, I spoke with our friends in Ireland this past Thursday (gotta LOVE Skype) and they were looking into building cob houses in Northern Ireland. From what they’ve learned, their climate is too moist for cob. Hrmmm…I still have to do my own research on this, but if cob won’t work there using the traditional recipe, there’s the soil/cement mixture used in making earth bag houses. That technique doesn’t require clay or straw…just dirt and about 10-20% cement (depending on the local soil composition) in the mixture. The costs go up slightly because you’re having to purchase the cement, the barbed wire (used between the layers) and either individual or tubular sandbag casings. More research…but I’m pretty good at that. I’ll be trying out both methods in the backyard so I can get the hang of either one. Then I can adapt techniques depending upon the climate we move to.

So, still clearing the yard and wrestling with the weeds and crab grass. We’ll be paving most of the back yard with brick pavers, so the only reason I’m tearing up the backyard is to get at the dirt for building materials. Does anyone know if crab grass dies if covered up? Or does that annoying ground cover withstand nuclear impacts?

That’s my two pence…

Arial 😉

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2 thoughts on “Cob House Building – Updates and Adaptability

    • NICE home! OMG you’re such an inspiration!! Good to hear building a cob house in NW Ireland is very possible. I’m excited! Going to spend some more time on your site and I’ll be sure to leave some comments. Thanks so much for visiting and letting us know this information!

      Cheers!
      Arial 😉

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