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Living Wall Idea on Cob Foundation  RSS feed

 
Katya Barnheart
Posts: 37
Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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OK, I have an idea that I am wanting some forseeable issues with... I am pretty excited about it and will probably try it even if it does end up failing miserably. So Here goes-
I am cobbing a 2 foot wide base around my house/greenhouse to be, then framing up a space above it about 3' wide by 6' high and the same 2' in depth as the cob foundation. Then covering the framing in plastic and putting a slanted piece of metal barn siding at the base (touching the cob).
Then, covering the framed rectangle, front and back with either hardward cloth or lath. Maybe some mosquito netting too.
Then, filling the "boxes" with dirt and cobbing around the frame.
The slanted barn siding at the bottom is for drainage. Sufficient overhand over the cob foundation so it doesn't soak the cob.
The idea here is to have more growing room and to get walls up quicker than it would take if I were cobbing the whole thing.
I still need to devise an efficient way to water everything from the top, but that shouldn't be too hard.
My questions-
Will a depth of 2' of soil be enough to retain the interior temp of the house? Or will it just go right through the soil? Soil seems to keep it's 50-60 degree temp pretty well but I'm not sure about at only a 2' depth.
Will bugs get in through the dirt?
Other issues? Mold, yucky stuff in general?
Ideally there would be stuff growing on/in the walls year round, especially on the interior of the house.
I know there are "living wall kits" out there but this would be a wayyyy easier and cheaper solution than those things.
Thanks!!
 
Matt River
Posts: 36
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Framing and flashing details are important in that type of installation where it connects to a house. Your siding type and topside flashing is also critical to a quality install. Heat and humidity will build up in the greenspace. In summer months this is not beneficial - a large vent will be important for warm months. A simple product to use in corners and on edges is frost and ice barrier - sticky sheet roll of rubber available in most hardware stores in the roofing section. Lexel is a superior sealant to silicon and would be one option to create a permanent seal at critical points. I am not well-versed in the insect and mold issues for your area, but would strongly recommend that the structure is totally sealed off from the house and wall cavities to avoid black mold. Plastic wrapped pine will also generally not perform very well as a framing material. Condensate alone can rot the wood then. Cob naturally breathes but will also absorb some moisture if exposed. Good luck!
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1128
Location: northern northern california
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i'm pretty fascinated with the idea of living walls/fences/pleaching/ wattle and daub too...have tried a few small projects and been learning a bit by trial and error. so if you can see it all like you describe, and are willing to experiment and learn with the occasional errors, i say theres probably a reason youve got it fleshed out the way you are visioning =)
but i go for the figuring it out as you go along way often... making adjustments as it unfolds ....

i'm not sure i understood everything you laid out, but it sounded interesting. i have considered something similar to what i got from your description, only using earth bags, also sand and rocks- instead of cob- and/or more layers of plastic moisture barriers.....or to use the earth bags as a moisture barrier and for the foundation.

i had no idea there were living wall kits. ! cool actually!
when i first started thinking about this i thought i had made it up =)
or i hadnt seen it anywhere but the idea kept growing in my mind as a cool idea. i've visioned a lot of different ways you could build with living walls.
but wattle and daub, pleaching, making living fences and walls is actually really old. i vision a kind of cross between wattle and daub, and live pleaching and some random found stuff to form a framework- copper wires, random metal pieces and the like. or using the live pleaching plants to cover the top part of a large underground structure, with earth bags used where needed. but thats more to build a whole structure out of mostly living walls, to just create one you should be able to work it out as you go, and have it be more like a container garden/raised bed in the wall.

a simple way to go would be to make various walls outside of the actual wall of the structure...in a kind of patio area or sun room extended area. then you would have no restrictions, not like trying to connect it to rest of the structure. you could put a lot of these in various angles, and of whatever height and width you wanted, without having to plan it out according the rest of the structure, deal with moisture issues, whatever else. just make free standing ones wherever, extending out from a patio/sun room area.

trying to do it right attached to the structure, and as the structure itself....i think its possible, and very intruiging idea.
to be able to grow walls =) but theres a lot of details to be worked out, how are the roots contained, moisture issues, etc
 
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