What To Do with Extra Dirt: Rammed Earth

Dirt for Rammed Earth KivaI mentioned recently that my husband dug out about 6-8″ of dirt from our vegetable garden, and we now have piles of dirt dotting our yard.  We can’t really put it back into our garden…unless we sift out all of the Bermuda Grass.  (Nasty stuff.)

It popped into our heads when, while in Santa Fe, we were talking to Gail from Plants of the Southwest about how she built her rammed earth building.  We decided to build a rammed earth kiva into our front patio!

Like adobe, the techniques of rammed earth–pounding damp earth into forms to form walls–have been around for thousands of years.  Rammed earth, as it’s practiced in the U.S., has seen several surges in popularity in the 1840s, around the Great Depression, and today.  Homes built with rammed earth are often cooler, quieter and sturdier.

So we are now designing our rammed earth kiva and seating area and building the forms we’ll use.  Once the forms are in place, we’ll take all that dirt and ram it into the form.  Then we’ll build the firebox and chimney and put the kiva structure over it.  Final step…stucco.  Lots of stucco.

The other benefit of this?  All that nasty Bermuda Grass will be trapped inside.  Forever.  More later…


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