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sod house,house with walls made of strips of sod laid horizontally in courses like bricks. Sod houses were common in the frontier days on the western plains of the United States, where wood and stone were scarce. The sod, turned by the plow and held together by roots, was lifted in strips and usually cut in 3-ft (1-m) lengths (sods). The walls were hewed smooth with a spade and were often plastered with clay and ashes. Sometimes roofs were of frame construction; usually they were thatched or covered with sods, which had to be replaced after heavy rains. Sod walls were fire- and windproof and good insulators, but they permitted only small window openings. For other earth houses, see rammed earthrammed earth,
material consisting chiefly of soil of sufficiently stiff consistency that has been placed in forms and pounded down. It has been used for buildings and walls since ancient times and was employed in some of the most ancient fortifications in the Middle East.
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See E. Dick, The Sod-House Frontier (1937).
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sod house, soddie
A dwelling having thick walls of blocks cut from an upper layer of grassland (i.e., sod). Houses of this type were constructed quickly by early settlers in the Great Plains of the United States in areas where timber and stone were scarce, suitable clay was not available for making bricks in quantity, but good-quality sod was readily obtainable. Often, constructed partially underground, or built into the side of a hill to provide improved thermal insulation. The walls were usually plastered with clay to promote cleanliness and dryness within the structure, and to reduce or prevent insect infestation. Also see Plains cottage.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.