Applying Earthship Concepts to Your Home and Garden

by Danielle Bullard

in Sustainable

Earthship garden with yellow daisy flowers

Earthships are an ecological concept of construction that seeks to balance out the effect of a building and its uses with the environment that it is located in. It takes into consideration materials, landscaping, waste, water consumption, heat and energy preservation, and natural balance to create the most ecologically and environmentally sustainable design possible.

[pullquote]Solar, wind, and water power is also utilized as much as possible to reduce reliance on finite energy sources.[/pullquote]The term was coined by Michael Reynolds, who was the architect and designer responsible for the first Earthship to be built in the US. Although the name may give off a slight new age hippy vibe, it is essentially a term which describes a design and building approach which seeks to reduce the impact and imprint of a new development, and it is becoming extremely popular all over the world.

Although you may not be looking to build a brand new home, the concepts and design ideas used within these Earthships can be used as inspiration when thinking about your own home, garden, and even workplace.


Key Factors

The underlying concept of an Earthship is to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and power as many of the buildings processes as possible from renewable energy sources. These buildings are typically built into a mound of earth or hill with a living roof covering the top. This provides the building with a large amount of natural insulation by tapping into the earth’s natural insulating properties. Solar, wind, and water power is also utilized as much as possible to reduce reliance on finite energy sources. The buildings are often set facing the sun, with a heavy use of glass on the front facing wall to trap the suns heat during the day.

Recycled tires in front of earthship contruction siteAs well as production of renewable energy, and utilization of the natural heating and insulating power of the sun and earth, Earthships also seek to capture and reuse as much rainwater as possible.

The ingenious designs capture rainwater from the roof of the building, store it in tanks, filter it for use in the house, and then spread waste water from the house into the garden to feed the plants. This means that every drop of water that falls on the property is used and eventually ends up feeding the plants.

During the construction of Earthships, recycled, reclaimed and natural materials are the preferred option as this lowers the environmental impact of the build. Walls made from tires, bottles, earth bags, straw, and clay are common to see and they make for low cost building materials.

Applying the Ideas in Your Home or Workplace

As mentioned earlier, the majority of people are not currently planning to construct an entirely new building; however, the ecological principles of Earthship building can be transferred to a whole range of circumstances. Many Small businesses are utilizing wind and solar energy in order to reduce their energy costs, which is a trend that is set to continue among business owners who own their premises. Green energy and ecological choices for small businesses are an important step forward in society, and there are lots of great incentives for people to get on board and lower their business’ carbon footprint. One of the major plus points of this is that consumers are rewarding environmentally aware businesses, meaning that having a completely carbon neutral office or production center is great for company image.


Diagram showing the concepts behind earthship building


The concepts of Earthship building can be implemented into any home renovation, redesign, or extension, as well as for garden sheds, outhouses, and landscape design and it can really add some additional inspiration to the design and planning stages of a project.

[pullquote]The underlying concept of an Earthship is to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and power as many of the buildings processes as possible from renewable energy sources.[/pullquote]Catching the rainwater from your roof for use in the garden is a great way to save on water costs, and make a difference to the environment, and there are plenty of interesting and fun ways to collect, store, and distribute the water; you can be as creative as you wish using large rain water collection systems to [amazon_link id=”B00295R28M” target=”_blank” ]smaller rain barrels[/amazon_link]. If you were planning to build a new shed or workshop in your garden, why not try to build it from recycled goods, incorporate a living roof into it?

One of the most popular take away concepts from the Earthship model is the idea of creating an inside / outside area from glass panels that is ideal for growing plants, herbs and some vegetables. This can be done by adding a conservatory type extension to the side of the house that is for the sole purpose of growing plants. Not only is it practical, it creates a visually stimulating connection between the inside and outside spaces of your home or workplace.

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