Earthbag wall building part two

A year ago I was approached to see if the Westbury Community Garden would be interested in facilitating the building of an experimental earthbag wall and seat. In June 2011 we started the process with a workshop in earthbag building. This was  put on the blog at This was a success, but as the months passed by things stalled.

There were a couple more rows of earthbags added but after checking for stability we decided to remove them,as they had not been tamped sufficiently, and add a couple of new rows. The seat on the outside was stepped up twice to make three different seating heights.

Reshaping the earthbag wall

Now in the last couple of months there has been much action and the wall has been rendered with a mud/straw render coat, then a lime plaster coat and now is getting its final limewash coats.

Eartbag wall before rendering

The mud render was made from clay that was spoil from a hole dug for an underground water tank. Sand came from a pile that was left over from the school cricket pitch and chopped straw added. Several test patches were trialled, each with a different ratio. Finally we settled on one clay, three sand, and a good handful of chopped straw.

The first coat we put on filled the voids between the earthbags.

First coat mud render being applied

After this we decided that the clay needed screening. An old bed frame with the old fashioned chain link stretcher was purchased from the tip shop for a whole $5. This worked a treat, enabling us to just shovel the clay through the mesh and make a finer render.

Bed frame as a sieve

After the base coat had dried We decided that the ends of the wall needed attention. There were plenty of old sleepers in the scrap pile in the Community Garden so we used those to create two ends.

Sleepers used as end of wall and base coat mud render

Sleeper ends detail

Then after the base coat a scratch coat was put on and left to dry thoroughly.

Scratch coat mud render being applied

The final coat was a lime/sand plaster mix with handfuls of chaff thrown in as an extra binder. Chris did a great job as a master plasterer and I acted as labourer.

Lime plaster applied

More lime plaster

The next stage is to get the local Primary School involved in making some pavers to be mortared to the bench seat on the outside of the wall and to create a bench inside using cob walling techniques and gabions.

2 thoughts on “Earthbag wall building part two

  1. Thank you for sharing your story on building the earth bag wall. Can you tell me the recipe for the render?? You mentioned there is at least three layers. Thanks, Richard .

  2. Hi Sean & Mandy, I am reading your blog from the beginning over last 2 wks. I was interested recently to read your blog post about pelments over curtains. I have always known they are good but did not understand how they work. Thank you heaps for explaining. I have pelments/valances made from curtain fabric and hung like curtains. As we are in north QLD heat is our problem particularly our lounge windows which gets western sun. Pelments are now on my must do list before next summer. I thought of just getting 2 long piece of wood and screwing together with squares on each end. Can you tell me plz if there was a particular reason that you made yours the way you did verses my idea.

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