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Hi, I wanted to bring to your attention a new building method that I'm starting to experiment with.  You dip burlap into magnesium oxide cement, throw it on a form and let it dry.  My understanding is that the chemicals are beneficial for plants and it is waterproof.  I hope to start experimenting with it this week.  I'm getting components now.

You can read more at:

If you live near Phoenix and you would like to try it hands on, then message me and I'll send you my address.

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Hi Brian...I'm very interested in trying the process 'hands on'....I have an urban farm in Scottsdale (3rdAcreFarm), and can think of multiple uses...especially wind break walls, etc. (and I like the usage for roofs..), and, of course, growbeds if what you state is accurate.

"My understanding is that the chemicals are beneficial for plants and it is waterproof."  Where did you obtain that information from??  (and if it's in the apologies, I haven't read it all yet)  I'd like to do some further research myself if you have some sources....Thanks.

Chris George


It does mention it in the article. I'd like to learn more, too.

I read the article and then a second one with a Q&A section.  He keeps referring to cistern usage so I'm intrigued, most cisterns are utilized for drinking water.  Yet if it 'acts as a fertilizer' in a pot, adding nutrient to the dirt, then it would also 'add' to the growbed water, and 'add' to the fish tank water, which might create some imbalances right?  I know bath salts are magnesium and they are used as a fertilizer for garden plants, I just can't recall what plants and in what situations...more research needed.

Long and short of it is though, I am very interested.  This would be a great solution to affordable rainwater catchment containers and storage tanks here in the desert.

Would be great to use to build my pizza oven, and would make a nice floor for the outdoor shower (greywater system).

PIZZA OVEN!! Great idea! 

I was thinking the same thing, Chris. Would the beneficial effects of the material actually be a detriment or, perhaps just cause one to adjust the system in a certain way. I'm cautious of anything that leaches any kind of substance. Regardless, if it can't be used directly for a tank or growbed, it could be used as a form for a liner, allowing a person to be creative with the shape & size of their system.

I agree on the tank/growbed liner (structure) idea as well, frankly I can think of loads of uses...would make a nice north wall for a greenhouse, duckweed trough, etc.  Around the farm, windbreak walls, planters, firepit/bbq seating, aviary (chicken coop) walls, slide for the swimming pool (might have to beef it up or lose more weight though, haha).  Raingutter, rainbarrels. I like that it is lightweight yet strong.

I'm getting the components in now.  I know where to get the cement.  I'm still trying to find out where to get some burlap.  If you guys know of a good place, please tell me.  Then I'll post when I'm going to get started working with it and my address.

I've read where the biggest problems are the current natural availability (primarily China), the testing needed to set construction standards, and the formula standardization between manufacturers. I can't find anything about it emitting any beneficial elements (other than this article). It does absorb CO2.

Mesa Sales probably has burlap. I don't know of places further into Phoenix. From what I've read, you could us any fabric or fiber.

Home Depot (and I think Lowe's) have a heavier burlap sewn into a big bag (for garden cleanup).  They also sell a loosely woven burlap on a roll.  

Any place that roasts its own coffee will have excess burlap bags.....

Yea.  I dug a pond out in my front yard.  I put in a pond liner, but if this works, I might switch.  I also want to try to use this to build the grow beds.  Those are above ground and the pond is below ground.  That way the whole thing can run off gravity once I pump the water up to the grow beds.  

The coffee sounds better than the bag right now. :) 

I requested a quote from arizona bag company on their burlap.  It comes in bales with various cuts.  


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