A Beginners Guide to Building an Earthship Pt. 2

Building the Gabions

In one long weekend, our little crew built all the gabions we will need for my entire earthship. The gabions in the back of the house, shown in the bird’s eye view of the floorplan below, will be stacked one on top of the other for an 8 ft. tall wall. The two side walls will be made of single gabions 4 feet tall since they will have framing and windows in the top 4 ft above the gabions. So, for an earthship with inside dimensions of 52′ wide and 24′ deep, we will need a total of 56 gabions.

To make this many gabions, I bought 4 rolls of horse fencing, twisted, not welded, with 2″x4″ holes, 4′ tall and 200′ long, for a price of about $1200 total. I also bought 300′ of 2′ tall chicken wire and 100 feet of 22 gauge wire for attaching the chicken wire inside the back gabions for a total of $100. To reduce the labor in collecting rocks to fill the gabions, the back wall will use 2/3 dirt and 1/3 rocks, so the chicken wire will keep the dirt from spilling out between the rocks.

To make a 4ft diameter gabion, you need a 12’8″ length of fencing. It is imperative that the gabions are exactly the same length since many of the gabions will be stacked. You cut the length, removing the last vertical wire so you have long wire tails on both ends of the cut fence. You bring the wire fingers together like below so that each opposing finger goes down and then you can pull it up inside the opposite box of fence.

Once all fingers of wire are pulled straight up, you can stand the cylinder upright and twist the fingers together using an end nipper tool.

Next time, I think we finally get to start digging the hole with the back hoe!

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