Some technologies last longer than others. Gabion Baskets – where stones are contained within metal mesh-like netting and used as walls or stabilisers – have existed for thousands of years. Today we will look at how you can use Gabion Baskets to retain a sloping block or build a complete wall. They are great for features and can even be used for a foundation for that outbuilding you were thinking off.
There is evidence of stone-filled, woven-reed baskets constructed along Egypt’s Nile River to stabilise its banks up to 7,000 years ago. The word Gabion comes from the Italian word Gabione which means "Big Cage" and has been used for thousands of years by military and structural engineers. Gabions provide an attractive, effective, and inexpensive retaining-wall system. The best thing about them is that anyone can build a wall with them and they will stand the test of time.
How Can Gabion Baskets Be Used?
Walls are probably the most familiar Gabion application. Heights vary from high privacy and windbreak walls to low single layers, visually marking boundaries. Other ways you could use them are cladding on existing walls, benches, steps, feature walls, erosion control, garden sculpture and furniture, outdoor ovens and fire pits, vegetation edging, retaining/support structures, and pool and water-feature surrounds.
Why Use A Gabion Basket?
Well firstly they look great. The pleasing aesthetics of Gabions have long been admired and to use them around the home is both easy and cost effective. Here are a few good reasons to keep front of mind:
Easy installation and built-in strength: The stone fill settles to the contours of the ground beneath it and has such frictional strength that no foundation is required. In fact, the wall’s strength and effectiveness may increase with time, as silt and vegetation fill the voids and reinforce the structure. Another advantage over more rigid structures is that Gabions can conform to ground movement.
Sustainability: Used as shade screens in hot climates, Gabion walls provide passive cooling; they allow air to move through, providing ventilation.
Environmental friendliness: When onsite material is used as filler, transportation costs and associated fuel consumption are eliminated.
Flexibility: The ability to conform to settling and movement and the option, in many cases, to be moved to other locations.
Superior sound-dampening qualities: This is especially true if sandbags are installed in the centre. As well as their good exterior acoustics, Gabions also have excellent insulation and fire-resistant properties.
Aesthetics: Gabions look natural and can tie a house to the landscape by using filler materials excavated from the site or the local terrain.
Permeability: Gabions are permeable and free-draining; they can’t be washed away by moving water. This makes them the best item to make a wall from. Allowing water to move through the wall and yet keeping the soil etc behind it is truly valuable in a garden environment.
Cost effectiveness: Low-labour requirements, easy installation and no need (in many cases) for footings or support make them highly competitive cost-wise.
Long-lasting: We start off by using the Gabion Basket or Cage to hold the fill (that may be rocks, stones, pebbles) but by the time the cage breaks down (50 years or so) the contents will have settled and be very solid. All the little spaces in between the rocks fill up with dirt, sand and debris therefore making the wall a permanent thing.
What Can I Fill A Gabion Basket With?
Rocks. This is definitely the most popular way to use the Gabion Basket. It allows a quick fill up time as the rocks are quite large and ends up looking quite striking as the rocks have a varied colours and shapes. It is the most typical filler for its durability, longevity, and stability. Often the filler is chosen for its aesthetic attributes, or by what can be recycled from a site. Some considerations depend on a wall’s purpose. For a retaining wall, the rock must be dense enough to support the load. A hard rock such as basalt is typical. Over time as the cracks fill up and become solidified this makes for an amazingly strong wall.
Stones or River Stones. Using smaller stones is great when you are trying to make the walls for decoration and not just for retaining. The stones give it a much more refined look and allow you to customise to look to suit your garden.
Pebbles. My favourite is to use pebbles. The smooth finish works well to lift the wall into a design feature without parallel. You may need to line the Gabion with a smaller mesh to hold some of the smaller pebbles in but it is well worth it.
N.B.: If you’re building a retaining wall, get a landscape architect or engineer to determine loads and stresses and other factors.
How Much Do Gabion Baskets Cost?
Prices can be as low as $60 for a Gabion Basket. Which you can fill with rocks, stones or pebbles from your own property. Obviously if you want to use our rocks, stones or pebbles then that cost would be added to the price plus delivery.
The price can vary, depending on the size of the baskets:
The first thing to do is to choose what size hole you want in the basket. Our baskets come in the following hole sizes:
Small = 50mm x 50mm Medium = 75mm x 75mm Large = 100mm x 50mm
Then you can choose what size you want each basket to hold the filler.
Our smallest basket is 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm with a spacing between wire of 50 mm. You can also get this size in the 75mm x 75mm and the 100 mm x 50 mm hole sizes.
Next Up is 500 mm x 500 mm x 1000 mm
Then just add on 1 meter or half meter lots as needed.
Gabion Baskets are extremely affordable for a retaining wall or stone fencing, since little excavation or land preparation is needed. One of our landscapers has said, “It looks like the clients dropped thousands of dollars, but because they often don’t require a foundation, it’s a very economical way to build a garden wall. The cost of labor is minimal compared to a traditional field stone wall for example.”
Can I Use A Gabion Basket For A Foundation?
Yes, Leonardo da Vinci designed similar structures, to fortify the foundations of Milan’s Castello Sforzesco in the 15th century. In today's Rammed Earth and Cobb homes, builders often opt for what is called a French Foundation or Trench Foundation. This is digging out a trench about two times the width of the wall you are going to build on it. You make the trench one foot lower than the freeze line (in Australia we often don't have a freeze line but if you do, go one foot lower) or around 1.5 meters deep and then fill with rocks and cap off with six inches of concrete. Using the Gabion Baskets for this is an easy way to maintain uniformity and make it quick to do all the calculations. As opposed to a full concrete foundation, this ends up being much cheaper with excellent anti freeze bonuses. A trench foundation can support very heavy walls like rammed earth.
Thank for tuning in. I hope this information is helpful to you.