Mixing cement with dirt - does it work well?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by amamaofmany, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. amamaofmany

    amamaofmany Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One of the books I have (I think it's the Chickens in Your Backyard book - but I can't find it at the moment to be sure) mentions the possibilities of mixing cement powder with dirt, and then misting it and letting it harden. When it dries, it is supposedly a hard surface and much less expensive than mixing it to make concrete.

    I wondered if someone has done this and what the results were. I thought it may be a good idea for the space under the coop so it can be hosed out to clean and the chickens can't dig it up.

    Thanks!
     
  2. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    I honestly think its not a good idea. Dirt will make it move too much and will crack under pressure.

    Someone more knowledgeable will come along.
     
  3. Indiana hens

    Indiana hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2008
    Pendleton, Indiana
    packed earth or driven earth? I thought was for more arid climates?
     
  4. Suburban chick farmer 09

    Suburban chick farmer 09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never heard of that but it doesn't mean its wrong. I have however heard of dumping a dry bag of concrete into a hole and adding water instead of mixing it and then dumping.
     
  5. BaronRenfrew

    BaronRenfrew Chillin' With My Peeps

    you mix concrete with sand or gravel (which includes small rocks)for strength. with dirt (soil) there is organic matter that will rot and shrink making the concrete brittle so it chips and falls apart. it also won't hold up with winter's frost.

    you can buy ready mix that allows you to just add water

    plain concrete will fill a hole but it won't have the strength for load bearing walls
     
  6. amamaofmany

    amamaofmany Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did find the right book: it is actually in Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, and it is mentioned as a type of cheap alternative flooring within the coop.

    It says,
    "as a low cost alternative, mix one part cement with three parts rock free (or sifted dirt, and spread 4 - 6 inches over plain dirt. level the mixed soil and use a dirt tamper to pound it smooth. Mist the floor lightly with water and let it set for several days. You'll end up with a firm floor that's easy to maintain."

    What I thought was, the coop itself will be up on concrete blocks that are cemented together with rebar in them to keep them sturdy and in place (it is being prepared now) There will be some sort of fencing - probably hardware cloth or wood lattice- around the bottom so the hens can go under the coop and we can move the h.cloth or lattice and hose it out from time to time.

    The dirt under the coop, if it were hard rather than loose, it might be better for me when cleaning it and the hens won't be digging holes under there, either. I was thinking how muddy that will get when it was being hosed out and how that might smell if I couldn't be thorough enough (and the coop will be under my bedroom windows), and since it will only be a foot and a half or two feet up on blocks, I may not be able to get all the way to the back walls well.

    I just wasn't sure that this cement and dirt thing would be a good idea in the long run. It will stay dry enough, I think, being under the coop and also the back of the coop being under the eaves of the house.

    We do have some brick, and I think maybe enough to put it down under there instead. But seeing 'cheap alternative' I thought - mmmm....maybe save the brick for another project and use this... but does it work?​
     
  7. amamaofmany

    amamaofmany Chillin' With My Peeps

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    you mix concrete with sand or gravel (which includes small rocks)for strength. with dirt (soil) there is organic matter that will rot and shrink making the concrete brittle so it chips and falls apart. it also won't hold up with winter's frost.

    That is a very good point. Maybe this works inside a coop but not under it.

    Ours will have linoleum, so I won't be trying it there, either!​
     
  8. Swamp Roo

    Swamp Roo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've heard of cement earth mixes before, probably in some alternative building technique books. I'm sure I still have it somewhere, but no idea where. They do work though, sort of like the earth asphalt roads (earth/asphalt instead of aggregate/asphalt).

    Swamp
     
  9. tim_TX

    tim_TX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a rock sidewalk that I built 15 years ago by laying a base of dry cement powder, leveling the rocks on top, and then brooming dry cement powder powder into the cracks before spraying liberally with a hose end sprayer. Its so hard and strong you car drive on it without cracking. Its 100 feet long and has zero cracks.

    So, I think your idea will work well, except for the mixing with dirt part. Just use 100% cement powder and spray. Repeat spraying every day for 3-4 days to make sure that the moisture penetrates the entire laying of cement.
     
  10. Chauntecleer's Keeper

    Chauntecleer's Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do not think that it would stand the test of time. I would keep my eye out for some pavers you could lay on the ground. you could always use the baged concrete to make some pavers with a home made mold. They would be thinner than a slab, but should last. Keep your eye out discarded bricks too. Look in the classified section of your paper under "give aways". You can sometimes find some goodies there.
     

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