Hi all :) I live in the mountains where Manzanita trees grow. I want to build my home. I have seen videos of people building homes with bamboo sticks, so I'm curious how I can build a home with Manzanita. I don't have many tools, but am very creative. I have done a ton of building with store bought wood----but now, I want to 'harvest' the Manzanita somehow and build my home. Does anyone have experience with this?? Where do I start?
What is the growth habit of your manzanitas? How straight can you get logs, and how large? A photo of some growing (with something for scale) would be helpful for those of us who do not have access to it.
The type of framing you would do depends on the answers to these questions. Small or crooked timber would suggest a more close-studded frame while large straight timbers could be used as traditional timber framing with large infill panels. Your climate and other available local resources are also important.
Looking at images online, manzanita seems extremely small and twisty. You can certainly build with it, but would probably be best off gravitating to more organic forms rather than rectilinear ones. It might be well suited to "wattle and daub" construction, which is essentially a semi-woven frame of small sticks and laths with cob plastered over it on both sides, interlocking to make a sturdy wall. This would require good weather protection, foundation walls high enough that snow or rain don't splash off the ground and wet the base of the wall, and an overhanging roof that keeps direct rain off the rest (known as a "good hat and boots".)
What sort of house do you want, and how large? That will influence how suitable manzanita is for your project too.
Manzanita is a beautifully grained hardwood. The variety that grows in my area is so gnarly and twisted it would be difficult to create any lumber from the plant. Short sections resawn on a bandsaw for furniture is common or the natural twists and turns used in a piece. What does the variety of Manzanita look like where you live?
Our inability to change everything should not stop us from changing what we can.
Manzanitas are a very valuable medicinal tree, fruit and leaves, and are they are not viable building materials for structures. Manzanita's anywhere close to building material size are also one of the best and most beautiful fire breaks you can have, as they have the highest strike temperature of any North American wood. It can also melt a wood stove if burned in one. I also live in the mountains where Manznitas are abundant, and I would not cut down manzanitas to build a home in the name of permaculture.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory