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! Design: Solarium at Wheaton Labs: Design Conversation

 
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I'm remembering that if you have water dripping off a roof, it will splash up about 18" onto nearby walls.  If they're logs, they'll likely rot.  I know the local stone is more like crumbly rock, but I wonder if it could be used as a facade for the lower two feet?  

Here's a visual of the splashback (I believe the gutters were added later):


Wooden exterior is cool, especially if the overhang is enough to protect it from the weather.  Unless that isn't an issue in MT due to low humidity?  Board and batten (as on the willow bank or in the picture above), done vertically could be a nice look next to the doors.

The downhill edge of the roof will pour rainwater into that planting bed.  Great for plants, but the splashback will constantly get those windows dirty.  Maybe a gutter to direct the rain and then feed it to the bed would work.

 
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Thanks, Mike;

The overhangs currently are about:
- 2'-0" on the East/West sides
- 0'-10" on the South side

That's a good call on the board and batten siding, and the cleaning issue of the windows near the hops planting area.
 
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I'm realizing I need to re-state the major design objectives as I understand them, for my own benefit; to verify/re-focus/re-orient:

- Turn the unlivable garage into actually nice dormitory housing
- Part of this is creating a solarium to replace the garage door
- The solarium addition must be constructable in about a week
- The solarium addition must be a prime example of natural building
- Construction tolerances are 'mouse-tight', not 'ziploc-bag'
- Extra thermal mass is needed to temper the environment, some will be provided by a new RMH
 
Ash Jackson
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Ash Jackson
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Paul's indicated a renewed need for the Solarium/Bunkhouse.

We have what appears to be a good timber concept. (Obviously it needs detailing and optimization).


What about Cob? Would Cob preclude the 1-week construction time?
 
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Cob turns to mud when water gets on it.  Cob is great if you can keep it dry.
 
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Rough Notes from 9/10 conversation:

  • Build-time now extended to two weeks.
  • On-site sawmill is working (gleaned from elsewhere)
  • Thermal mass on-pad is better placed in the mass for the RMH-to-be (More discussion needed on the RMH. I presume this will likely be a Centrally-Placed 8" J-tube Cob-mass Vent-to-roof system)
  • Some thermal mass off-pad is beneficial, do-able.
  • Plastics/Mastics: The goal is better, not perfect. Some is acceptable.
  •  
    Ash Jackson
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    Question: How to make a less-gicky Waterproofing Detail?


    The current design uses way less plastic, glue, galvanized metal, cement, and paint than traditional construction. That's nice.

    A place I'm currently struggling to remove plastic, glue, and galvanized metal are at the waterproofing details. These exist at the window heads/sills, door heads/sills, and the solarium shed roof::garage wall connection.

    Take this hyper-oversimplified section detail of a door sill:

    (Thanks, duckduckgo!)

    See the red line? My experience with typical construction is that red line would be galvanized metal flashing, with glue-backed-plastic (e.g. peel-n-stick) waterproofing lapped around and behind it.


    Back to the question:
    Do y'all know a way to make a waterproofing detail that's less gicky than that?
    I've looked at the hand-sculpted house book, and the details depicted there appear to be more tolerant of water infiltration. Perhaps there's something that I'm missing? Perhaps having way less plastic is good enough?
     
    pollinator
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    I'm just now joining the conversation. Awesome work Ash.

    Ash Jackson wrote:
    Back to the question:
    Do y'all know a way to make a waterproofing detail that's less gicky than that?
    I've looked at the hand-sculpted house book, and the details depicted there appear to be more tolerant of water infiltration. Perhaps there's something that I'm missing? Perhaps having way less plastic is good enough?



    Perhaps the base materials can be more elevated (higher relative to exterior ground level) and breath-able (slightly more porous)? I'm brainstorming about stone and sand at the moment. Your load bearing members are interior, and the exterior walls are separate (resting on a base that doesn't need a footer/extensive structure).

    Please note: When I was at the 2017 Wheaton ATC, Josiah Wallingford's architect business partner got on a conference call with the entire class. I took the opportunity to ask him about design recommendations for this solarium project (which was already expressed by Paul at that time). What I think I gathered was: to have a heat collecting material inside the room to hold heat from day to day. The idea of this is similar to what Zach has learned from Sepp, where a large rock is just below the surface of a pond. So, I assume, some solid materials (need) to be placed within this architecture expansion. I think you started the design with a stone floor and now have a cedar wood floor.

    Wifi antenna: I wonder if it could have it's own pole? or tree? and run the wire below the parking surface?

    I'd like to see a section of the solarium roof (now that you speak of limiting glue, plastic, and flashing). Perhaps a breathable floor system works well with a breathable roof system.

    Food for thought: Can we have stone columns :) ? Bases maybe?

    Files: Consider posting sketchup files when you're presenting the design with multiple viewpoints. I refuse to do this with digital market items as of now, but did do this when attempting the berm-shed re-design.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I don't know much but I can throw out silly ideas...  For the door and window headers, could they be designed to be high enough up under the eave that water can't get above them?  Then no weatherproof sealing may be needed?

    As for the door sill, could the sill be custom made to wrap around the outside edge of the floor (like the red line does)?  And make it simple enough (or build 4 at a time) that they can be replaced if they rot out?

    Window condensation could be a serious concern if you have enough people or plants breathing in there on a cold night.
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Mike Haasl wrote:As for the door sill, could the sill be custom made



    Sparks an idea for me: Does the sill need to be close to the ground or can it be a raised lip of about 4 inches (to increase design options here)?
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Hey Davin,

    The way this snugs up to the concrete pad, we're a bit limited on the elevation of the finished floor, unless a raised floor is built (part of the point of the prev. idea of the cedar floor).

    Finished grade at the gravel area has some room to be adjusted.
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Ash Jackson wrote:unless a raised floor is built



    Sparks idea: pop a window left and right of the solarium on the south wall of the garage, and extend a new finish floor level into the garage space. Brings up the question of the bunks mobility and what is the current top-plate height inside the garage.

    Is there a thread for the bunks?
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Hey Davin,

    No thread for bunks yet. (or the RMH-to-be inside the garage)

    I'd initially understood my scope to be just the new stuff outside the garage, so I did not document the inside of the garage very well.

    I saw it, decided I didn't want to rely on the existing garage structure for more than secondary lateral bracing, and moved my focus outside.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Thanks again for taking a look at this, Davin.

    Davin Hoyt wrote:Perhaps the base materials can be more elevated (higher relative to exterior ground level) and breath-able (slightly more porous)? I'm brainstorming about stone and sand at the moment. Your load bearing members are interior, and the exterior walls are separate (resting on a base that doesn't need a footer/extensive structure).


    Initially, even having a floor was pushing the envelope a bit. Stone floor is a good call, and would help in several ways.

    Davin Hoyt wrote:Please note: When I was at the 2017 Wheaton ATC, Josiah Wallingford's architect business partner got on a conference call with the entire class. I took the opportunity to ask him about design recommendations for this solarium project (which was already expressed by Paul at that time). What I think I gathered was: to have a heat collecting material inside the room to hold heat from day to day. The idea of this is similar to what Zach has learned from Sepp, where a large rock is just below the surface of a pond. So, I assume, some solid materials (need) to be placed within this architecture expansion. I think you started the design with a stone floor and now have a cedar wood floor.


    That seems doable. It might also be accomplished by the RMH-to-be, or the stone floor, or both.

    Davin Hoyt wrote:Wifi antenna: I wonder if it could have it's own pole? or tree? and run the wire below the parking surface?


    This has shifted from being immutable to being mutable. So, yes.

    Davin Hoyt wrote:I'd like to see a section of the solarium roof (now that you speak of limiting glue, plastic, and flashing). Perhaps a breathable floor system works well with a breathable roof system.


    I have very little experience with truly breathable assemblies. I had hoped to avoid plastic or asphalt in the roof. Perhaps I am (again) aiming too high.

    Davin Hoyt wrote:Food for thought: Can we have stone columns :) ? Bases maybe?


    I look forward to the day when I get to design a project with structural stonework. I have concerns about specifying it in this project. Perhaps I'm being over-cautious.

    Files attached; both the current file and a clean base.
    Filename: Garage-Solarium-Simple-2.skp
    Description: current file
    File size: 994 Kbytes
    Filename: Garage-Existing.skp
    Description: clean base
    File size: 269 Kbytes
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Questions/Comments as of now:
    1) Has the glass already been sourced; do we have a set size?
    2) The lumber that you modeled is standard (1.5x5.5). Are we going to use the on site saw mill instead (which would provide nominal 2x6s)?
    3) Colors were added for clarity only.
    4) Roof slope was kept; 2:12.
    5) I made columns to 16" diameter, and beams to 12" diameter. Perlins stayed at 6" diameter.
    6) I took the model from your file, and the model from my old 2017 file, and placed everything inside one of my typical consulting base files (with all the layers and such).
    7) I have saved this file down, but let me know what year version you are using.
    8) I deleted two columns. Your columns were smaller and spanned only 6 feet. Not sure if this was a good call on my part. Not sure if the stone base to columns is a good call on my part as well.
    9) Paul needs to make the decision of what the roof surface will be. Slope is 2/12; 9.5 degrees.
    10) The elevated vent window will have some interior trusses overlapping it at the current placement.
    LIBRARY_PLAN01-pic06.jpg
    Perspective of solarium garage remodel from inside with November morning sunlight.
    Perspective of solarium garage remodel from inside with November morning sunlight.
    LIBRARY_PLAN01-pic05.jpg
    Perspective of solarium garage remodel from inside.
    Perspective of solarium garage remodel from inside.
    LIBRARY_PLAN01-pic04.jpg
    Perspective of solarium exterior from southeast.
    Perspective of solarium exterior from southeast.
    LIBRARY_PLAN01-pic03.jpg
    Perspective of solarium exterior from southwest.
    Perspective of solarium exterior from southwest.
    Filename: LIBRARY_PLAN02-SAVEDOWN_2016.skp
    Description: The solarium garage remodel sketch up file saved down. It might be a bit messy.
    File size: 26 megabytes
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Nice work, Davin!
    Answers:
    1) Has the glass already been sourced; do we have a set size?
    Not to my knowledge. I was requested to 'have the design flex based on what is sourced.' Thus, I did not develop the size/shape standardization.

    2) The lumber that you modeled is standard (1.5x5.5). Are we going to use the on site saw mill instead (which would provide nominal 2x6s)?
    Yes, that seems preferable. When I started this project, the sawmill was broken, thus my design's heavy reliance on round wood and standard dl.

    7) I have saved this file down, but let me know what year version you are using.
    2015.

    8) I deleted two columns. Your columns were smaller and spanned only 6 feet. Not sure if this was a good call on my part. Not sure if the stone base to columns is a good call on my part as well.
    I did what I was comfortable with; you're doing what you're comfortable with. Artisans/approaches, etc.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Silly question...  What about copying the existing roof trusses and just extending the roof to the south?  Use cathedral trusses and then there can be a high triangular window in that south wall to let much more light in.  Plus the eave won't block as much light as a shed roof overhang.  Using trusses may eliminate all the beams and posts too.  But I'm probably missing some key element of the design constraints so take this with a grain of salt...
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Mike Haasl wrote:Silly question...  What about copying the existing roof trusses and just extending the roof to the south?



    I did a quick rendering.

    Questions/comments:
    1) Has this idea already been talked over previously?
    2) Would the east and west walls of the garage extend, or jog in like shown here, to cantilever over the doors?
    3) The eave on east and west sides could be much shorter.
    4) Would we open up the area of wall above the existing garage door?
    5) Timber framing can be used for columns, beams, and trusses.
    6) What about a steeple-like room? That would be a high place for heat to escape, and to growing plants indoors. It would get interesting at the bond with the existing roof, but be minimal.
    LIBRARY_PLAN03-pic01.jpg
    Perspective of solarium from southwest.
    Perspective of solarium from southwest.
    LIBRARY_PLAN03-pic02.jpg
    Perspective of solarium from southeast.
    Perspective of solarium from southeast.
    LIBRARY_PLAN03-pic03.jpg
    Perspective of solarium from inside existing garage.
    Perspective of solarium from inside existing garage.
    Filename: LIBRARY_PLAN03-SAVEDOWN_2015.skp
    Description: Saved down solarium sketchup file.
    File size: 25 megabytes
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I assume the only reason the solarium was narrower than the garage was so that the shed roof could fit under the existing garage roof.  Now it could go to the full width of the garage unless there's some terrain in the way.

    The trusses could be full log trusses instead of scissor trusses.  That could be pretty awesome.  But you might not want to perfectly match the garage roof then in case the homemade trusses sag/change a bit over time.

    Or just go with scissor trusses and cover them with nice woodwork and have beams/posts down in the walls to support the roof.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    This is a really cool concept. Some design constraints I was working with, which may or may not still be valid:

    - Cars currently use this area as a turnout, and that functionality was requested to be partially preserved. Thus, my new wall dimensions were a big push of the envelope.
    - 1 (now 2) week build time, as one of many tracks in the PTJ.
    - The solarium was described to me as a way to 'natural-up' the otherwise bland fisher-price garage that people first see when entering the property.
    - Training hops up the outside face of the south-wall
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Ash Jackson wrote:Training hops up the outside face of the south-wall

    What is this?
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Just one of the design components Paul requested for the solarium when he communicated it with me. It's why there was the brown rectangle outside the south window wall in my file.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Or if you're asking the question with a different intent...  They may want to grow hops plants and trellis them up the south side, likely for shade in summer.
     
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    Hop plants (vines) for summer shading.

    16" columns and 12" beams sounds backwards. The columns are relatively short and purely in compression, while the beams are longer and in bending and shear. I would use 12" posts (less would probably work too) and 16" more or less beams. The big beams would work best spanning the long dimension of the solarium, with purlins spanning the short way so they can be small and easy to handle. This would give only two sets of large beam/column timbers to handle - good experience for a crew but not a lot of heavy labor.
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    Mike Haasl wrote:...Now it could go to the full width of the garage unless there's some terrain in the way.

    The trusses could be full log trusses instead of scissor trusses.  That could be pretty awesome.  But you might not want to perfectly match the garage roof then in case the homemade trusses sag/change a bit over time.



    Comments/Questions:
    1) The roof slope is a four; 4:12; 18.5 degrees.
    2) I respected the area for a car to use.
    3) Please imagine square lumbers to be rough round lumber. (it was easier to model and maneuver as squares).  
    4) I incorporated the advise of beam and column sizes.
    5) I took the advise of not matching the garage roof plains.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-pic01.jpg
    Solarium perspective from southeast.
    Solarium perspective from southeast.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-pic02.jpg
    Solarium perspective from southwest.
    Solarium perspective from southwest.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-pic03.jpg
    Solarium perspective from existing garage.
    Solarium perspective from existing garage.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-pic04.jpg
    Solarium perspective from driveway nearest door-way (sliding glass door removed).
    Solarium perspective from driveway nearest door-way (sliding glass door removed).
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-pic05.jpg
    Perspective of east-west cross-section looking north (to show structure).
    Perspective of east-west cross-section looking north (to show structure).
    Filename: LIBRARY_PLAN04-SAVEDOWN_2015.skp
    Description: Solarium sketchup file saved down to 2015 version.
    File size: 26 megabytes
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    I did some more documentation of the same design.

    Questions/comments as of now:
    1) Ash, do you think this is do-able within the construction time frame?
    2) Post foundations to be decided.
    3) Wall foundations to be decided.
    4) Roof membrane to be decided.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-FLOORPLAN-CROPPED.jpg
    Image of floor plan.
    Image of floor plan.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-ELE-CROPPED.jpg
    Image of south elevation.
    Image of section cut.
    LIBRARY_PLAN04-SEC-CROPPED.jpg
    Image of section cut.
    Image of south elevation.
    Filename: LIBRARY_PLAN04-FLOORPLAN.pdf
    Description: PDF of floor plan.
    File size: 5 megabytes
    Filename: LIBRARY_PLAN04-SECandELE.pdf
    Description: PDF of section and south elevation.
    File size: 2 megabytes
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Davin Hoyt wrote:1) Ash, do you think this is do-able within the construction time frame?



    The factors I consider for schedule:
    - availability and quality of equipment
    - availability and quality of labor
    - availability and quality of materials

    are not variables I know or am in control of. I'm not sure I'm the one to answer this question.


    For my guessing of the probabilities of all three; I'd guess that your design is nosing up on the upper limit of the schedule.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Sounds like Glass Panels are inbound: https://permies.com/p/1168648

    (edit: I was mistaken. Those glass panels are for the greenhouse)
     
    Davin Hoyt
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    I'm on site. I talked to Paul yesterday. We paced the area.

    He said this seems like it will take a long time to complete. He also said he needs more "dry space" in general here at base camp. He also said he wants to find a (good) material for base of walls and roof sealing. He believes the bedrock is a few inches below the existing gravel surface.

    Illustrated are some ideas that may spark conversation here. And maybe we can tap into the bedrock to secure some of the large members. (?) I also proposed the idea of simply replacing the garage door with a glass wall until Spring rolls around, but I don't think he dug that. We also talked about a the possibility of having bathroom elements attached to, or in, the garage. And the possibility of a hand sink with gray water grow tubs in the solarium (in the future).
    LIBRARY_PLAN05-pic01.jpg
    Perspective view of Solarium design with leaders to explain ideas.
    Perspective view of Solarium design with leaders to explain ideas.
     
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    As far as anchoring the new posts, if bedrock is that close to the surface, all you really need to do is hammer drill a few inches into it and set one or two steel pins at each post. I might mortar some flat stones in place around the pins to lift the posts above possible wicking, though it seems the ground is dry enough out there that that may not be an issue. There will never be any uplift or tipping force on the structure to speak of, and the size of timbers under discussion will be massive enough to be stable forever.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I agree with Glenn, footings are easy when you're basically sitting on bedrock already.  

    Based on the likely experience of the PTJ builders and the natural building techniques needed, I kinda doubt that the solarium can be built in two weeks.
     
    Glenn Herbert
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    I would add that given the impracticality of sinking posts deep for lateral stability, the structure will need to be kept from swaying by diagonal bracing somewhere. This could be in the form of braces in the roof plane, or from outer posts to the main beam they support. This assumes that the existing garage is stable and sturdy and will anchor the side of the solarium that attaches to it.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Roofs: my understandings:

    - Paul said earthen roof is out.
    - "modern" roofs replaced skilled craft labor with products. Petroleum products.
    - Hand-sculpted house describes a plastic moisture barrier in the roof.


    - Clay tile needs a steeper slope than either of our designs have (7:12 per barefoot architcect), and ya know... clay tiles.
    - Thatch requires steeper slope, and skilled craftsmen.
    - Joe Jenkins has slate roof expertise. Maybe they have a way that doesn't use lead or roofing felt (bitumen-impregnated fiber). If so, I have yet to find it in their technical articles. Slate roofs typically have a steeper slope, too.
    - Barefoot architect describes wood shingle roofs without a moisture barrier, and it fits our slope criteria. Can be on purlins or boards. I still have concern over moisture infiltration in that assembly at low slopes.

    I'll play with the geometry some and see if I can get a roof slope that is more conducive to shedding rain and snow with natural materials.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    I was going to type "wood shingles" but then you got to them :)  I'm not familiar with wood shingles but they're probably one of the few natural options that is a possibility.  And it's probably what they used in the area 150 years ago.

    Metal roofing would be my next choice.  Lots of mining and heating energy involved but it's pretty durable and goes up quick.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    I question whether metal roofs are in the budget.

    Not being in control of the budget, it's not really up to me.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    They're pretty affordable too...
     
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    Would you have custom pieces cut and then put it on yourself? I want to give that a try, but haven't seen cost estimates yet. Sheets of metal roof at Lowes were $28 a piece last time I checked, but only seen them online.
     
    Ash Jackson
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    Hi Brian,
    Please excuse my too-quick typing. I'm using 'budget' in the broadest sense possible:
    - monetary budget
    - gick budget
    - non-natural materials budget
    - on-site labor skills budget
     
    Brian Holmes
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    Ah, makes sense.

    Well, based on my limited experience with metal roofs, they appear to have kept my ancient chicken coop, pole shed, and barn from disappearing into the earth after decades of neglect. I'd opt for those based purely on longevity (and hopefully ease of install).

    Love this project, btw. Would totally put dwarf fruit trees in there
    gift
     
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