Thursday, November 29, 2012

And now for the pictures

Please forgive me for this post if it bores the pants off you, but I'm pretty proud of myself for taking on a building project like this and actually having some success. Sure I did a small solar conversion on the camper trailer last year and I've put up alot of shelves, but I've also had some pretty spectacular disasters too (who can forget the water tank stand debacles?) so I'm not that confident in my ability to do things around the house without a bloke. But then I thought, what part of the Y chromosome identifies for ability to build a retaining wall and make cement render? After all, what's Google for, except to replace the often uninformed, but well meaning, advice of said bloke! I don't have any friends who have built an Earthship here in Geraldton, so tyre experience isn't exactly heavy on the ground, and I also am yet to meet anyone who believes it is possible to make cement render by hand. Seriously guys (and I mean you men) it aint that hard to mix up in a wheelbarrow if you just make small batches at a time.

So I thought I'd show you some photos with a bit of a running commentary. We'll start with a before shot:
What my backyard looked like before I started, yep I had to remove alot of vegetation even before I started!
After digging out the sandhill a bit, the next step was laying down the tyres and then filling them with the sand I had just dug out. Great upper body and core muscle workout.
After two days I have a very small wall
Then add seating

A local I disturbed in the process
A tip I learnt (thanks youtube!) is to put cardboard in the bottom of the tyres to stop the sand falling out where they interlock with the ones below them.
A spot for the water feature and some steps as well
Another view of the steps

Boy this is hard work, I need a rest!
After the basic layout, the lot gets covered in chicken wire, secured on with tech screws. and the gaps filled with wine bottles and cans donated by friends, neighbours and, um, a little dumpster diving..
Filling the gaps with more garbage - yes I did drink all that wine, but the cans are all donated!
The next step is rendering. This was the step I felt least confident about because there's like some chemistry involved and everyone made me think the whole mixing process was going to be horrific. But let me tell you, after filling that many tyres with sand and packing them down, mixing a bit of render in a wheelbarrow is child's play.
First layer of render
The difficulty was in getting the structure to look  half decent, which meant doing a number of layers of render. And once I got some decent gloves, my hands thanked me as well.
before I sorted out the safety gear
The next layer looked something like this
Beginning to take shape
Further refinements
I added a little lip above the seating area, using a bit of wire, and an old sheet filled up with sand then rendered over. Amazing what you can do with scraps of old stuff!
A lip added so I can stop the soil flowing over onto the seating.
My gosh, almost looks professional, if a bit folksy
And finally it looks something like this
There's still the other side of the wall to do, but I've run out of tin cans for the time being and need to wait for the neighbours to consume and donate, so I'm going to leave rendering that side for now. I've been very lucky with the weather, which has stayed mid to low 20s all week, but next week it will begin to hit the mid 30s so I'm hoping to have this cured before then. Then I'll paint it and seal it.

So there you have it. By the way, the black tubing is for piping water from the future pond up to the top of the waterfall. I smartly thought of that and made sure I put in the plumbing beforehand.

For a few more pictures, you can check out this photo album


  1. That's phenomenal - Great work !!!

    1. Thanks :) I'm working on the next level at the moment.