Adobe block

Adobe is soil formed into large, unfired bricks and dried until quite solid. You can buy adobe bricks in many areas, especially the Southwest, or you can make your own. Here's how:

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1. Prepare a level, open area of bare ground where you can make the blocks and leave them to dry in the sun.

If you'll be buying soil, be sure the site is accessible by truck. If you can, choose a spot that's close to where the bricks will be used (carrying is hard work). Make blocks in warm, dry weather so they cure properly.

2. Create shallow wooden forms made from four 2 x 4s nailed into an 8-x-16-inch rectangle.

Blocks should be around 8 inches wide and 16 inches long for most landscaping applications. Anything larger is too heavy to carry. However, a 4-inch-thick block offers strength.

3. Mix soil with water into a dough-like consistency.

Each 8-x-16-x-4-inch block uses about one third of a cubic foot of soil, so you'll get about 80 blocks out of a cubic yard of soil. You'll also need about 65 to 75 gallons of water to mix with each cubic yard of dry soil.

4. Place the forms on level ground and lightly wet them. Then place the soil in them.

Place a thin layer of sand on the bottom of the form to prevent the blocks from sticking to the ground.

  1. Tamp the soil well to exclude air pockets, and then let it set up for an hour or so before gently lifting the form from the block.
  2. Allow the blocks to cure for at least three days or until they can be moved without breakage.

Stand them on edge next to each other to save space. However, be sure to leave air space around the blocks so they dry properly.

Allow the blocks to dry in hot sun for at least two weeks before using.

When your bricks are ready, follow these general steps to build a non-retaining wall under 2 feet tall. First build a foundation (see the earlier section "Building a solid foundation"). Then drive two tall wooden stakes into the ground at the two ends of your foundation. Stretch a level string between them, right near where you're laying blocks; the string will give you something to measure to so your wall ends up straight and level. Lay the blocks in an overlapping pattern like bricks.

Now mortar the blocks in place. You can use regular cement mortar, or for an ultra-sustainable wall, use earthen mortar of the same material that the blocks are made of. (Sift the dry soil you'll use to make the mortar so rocks and trash are removed.) The mortar joints should be to %-inch thick. Place a single piece of #3 rebar horizontally in the mortar between courses (layers) of blocks. If you use a concrete foundation, install vertical rebars every 4 feet, running from inside the concrete up through the wall (you'll have to drill holes in the blocks so that the rebar can pass through them).

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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