Artist's Garden Using Cheap/Free Cob!


Cob is an unbelievably durable building/sculpting material made from clay soil, straw, and sand. It's gorgeous, helps with heating and cooling, no termites, holds up to weather. It has different names depending on the region. In the Southwest, we refer to it as adobe which is the same materials formed into bricks for building.

As someone who is very thrifty and loves to use natural materials and repurpose things, I was in my garden one day after killing off the dozens of pampass grass bushes (a blight!). I had taken a rake to rake the dead straw out into piles and suddenly cob came to mind!

It's a fun process that Julie and I will experiment with together and film for everyone.

Get some barefoot friends, a large tarp, some water, clay soil (1 part), straw (1 part), and a coarse sand (not fine) (3 parts). Add water, stomp it and turn the tarp to mix it up more. 

I have a dilemma in the yard I'm in because it is near a busy street and noisy. The cinderblock walls are not only ugly but porous and I need something giving me privacy at the top of a wall I can't extend higher (HOA nazis). So, I'm going to take a stucco trowel and cover the cinderblock and every four feet, going to form a raised cylinder to grow a cassia or sage bush in (no maintenance or watering and fast growing thick). This puts the plant up higher so I don't have to wait for it to extend past the wall. 

Pizza ovens, firepits, sofas, walls, even houses are built with cob! I'd love to make an artist's studio with tons of discarded windows and cob. Some folks make bottle bricks (see previous post by Julie) to let light in.

It's amazingly organic and you can smooth it into shapes, adding beautiful sculpted features. I'm considering making the planters look like a base of a tree with raised roots.

Here's some great examples of this fun and super cheap material. All I have to buy is a tarp and some coarse sand and I'm good to go!

I've been wanting an artist's garden like in the movie "Stealing Beauty" with sculptures around the gardens, vines of grapes overhead. I can literally build all my outdoor furniture with cob including some smooth curved lounge chairs that are shaped like lizards.... 

I just tested it out the other day. I found when you mix it, you need to gradually add water and mix very well. You want a consistency that isn't mud, but holds its shape, kind of like peanut butter cookie dough. Pack it tight, smooth as you go. 

Sadly, the design of this retirement property had decorative lattice bricks on the walls (ugh - dogs barking, and a noisy road beside the wall). I am testing it out to see how it will do with sound treating. Once it dries, it becomes a much paler color (like below).

I couldn't help but try out making "furniture" for the garden. I began to make a crescent moon-shaped seat for the center of the labyrinth. When I am done, I will work star and crescent moon shapes into the side of it and on top I will press sea glass in. 

Cob, it's not just for hippies in compounds!