I was totally amazed when I first saw this earthbag dome; isn’t it just fascinating? It looks like a little hobbit house! So an earthbag is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a bag filled with earth (ground); these are then stacked just like bricks, but each row is inset from the previous one, thus creating the dome shape.
These structures are versatile little things: thanks to the main material (earth), they are cool in summer and warm in winter. So apart from having a nice little place to relax, these domes are typically used as studios, chicken coops, storage sheds, above-ground pantries (thanks to the cool temperature), root cellars, and even below-ground storm shelters.
What really appeals to me is how the dome actually blends into the landscape – it isn’t some cold, hard structure that’s been dumped in nature – it’s inspired by nature, and it’s part of nature. You also don’t have to be a builder in order to make your own, you just need a great plan like this one, and some proper dedication and time. And with some good planning and a bit of scrounging around, it can be built for around $300 to $400!
Make sure to find out about building permits! You may not need one since this is below the minimum size required by most building codes for uninhabited, unattached structures, but details may vary from region to region.
Materials to buy:
- 500 polypropylene bags
- 45 cubic yds. road base
- 3 tons gravel
- barbed wire
- yds. plaster mesh
- 7 bags lime plaster/sand
- Door, frame and hardware
- ft. 6 mil plastic 12x32ft.
- 1 quart bitumen sealer
Materials that you may already have or can be salvaged at a low cost:
- 2 tires (28in. to 30in.)
- Boards and plywood to support tires
- 7 3x32in. rot-resistant wood poles
- 2 heavy duty 2gal. buckets
- 1 4gal. plastic bucket
- #10 cans optional
- 1 pound 4d common nails
- 1 pound 1 ½ in. galvanized roofing nails
- 2 string lines (one at 9 ½ ft. and one at 48in.)
- 2 wood stakes with screw eyes
- tamping board
- tamping rod (tree branch)
- Salvaged rebar for 28in. pins
- Small amount of wire
- square of galvanized window screen
- Old fishing net
- Rot-resistant 1in. saplings
- Sod (or native grass)
- Flower seeds and plants as desired
- Round-nose shovel(s)
- Hoe/digging tool
- sheet-metal slider (or old cookie sheet)
- 2×4 leveling board
- Tape measure
- Fencing pliers
- Garden hose with spray nozzle
- Stepladder (6ft. or 8ft.)
Short video description
For detailed step-by-step instructions, have a look at Instructables so that you can build your very own nature dome!