What is a gabion and how to use it in the landscape design? The term “gabion” comes from a Latin word which means “woven basket”. Gabions are modules with a rectangular shape and various sizes. Filled with river or quarry stones the baskets are aligned with a grid network. For greater stability of the structures barriers are placed that prevent excessive stretching and deformation of the gabion wall.
Using gabion walls is efficient, modern and environmentally friendly solution to prevent erosion, and their mainly used for stabilization and strengthening of embankments, slopes, landslides, rivers, coastlines, roads, highway, etc. Gabions are made of special double twisted hexagonal network with thick zinc coating. Gabion walls are very durable and resistant to earth pressure, easy to install, require almost no maintenance and are self-draining, making them an ideal solution for retaining walls.
Pros and cons of using a gabion wall in the garden
A gabion wall has many advantages – it offers a reliable protection against noise, privacy, it can be used as a windshield; it has an attractive design. The low cost, durability and functionality are the main advantages of gabion walls. A gabion wall can be built as a DIY project for retaining walls in the garden and is a good project for people who are not very skilled at concrete pouting or people who do not feel skillful enough to use bricks or blocks for building a retaining wall. Furthermore, the materials are easy to transport which means less time for labor to build the gabion walls, thus less money spent.
The gabions are metal cages filled with stones, often used as separate wall, fence. Durability is a very important advantage of gabion walls. They are not easily dragged down a sloping or eroding terrain. The strong base and the flexibility of the wire baskets allow small movements as the ground below is shifting. The environmental friendliness and the ability to combine with other materials are another advantage. Gabions can be combined with wood, metal, concrete or any other fencing material or garden wall material.
Gabions have an excellent drainage capacity. The gaps between the rocks can be filled with vegetation and silt, which will reinforce the gabion wall. In addition, the gaps between the rocks allow water to flow through the structure, which helps to maintain the ground water level relatively low.
When we discuss gabion walls we have to mention the most important disadvantages that you need to be aware of. There are people who are not attracted to the aesthetic appeal of gabion walls as it can be really minimalist and austere. Of course, this is a matter of taste and the general idea for the exterior design of the garden. Running water can damage gabion walls in time, i.e. the wire baskets may rust, disintegrate or algae may appear.
Landscape ideas – how to use a gabion wall
How to use a gabion wall in the landscape design? There are numerous ways to use gabion walls in the landscape of your garden. You can use gabions to make fountains, fences, benches, flower beds, ponds, waterfalls, as well as many other things that can surprise and delight the eye.
One of the most popular ways is to build a retaining wall. Metal retaining wall and gabion retaining walls serve as soil reinforcement, provide excellent drainage and help solve many other problems. Gabion constructions can be built with a height of several meters and organically blend into the landscape. The construction is mainly from gabion baskets (or boxes) which are made of welded stainless steel or galvanized material and filled with stones, gravel, pebbles, boulders or other materials available at the place of work.
Gabion walls can be successfully used as privacy fences, which is very important in densely populated areas. You can use them as a privacy screen or a privacy fence or as a fence marking the boundaries of your property. The appearance of a gabion wall is easily softened with green plants, trees and shrubs and you will have a cost effective and environmentally friendly fence.
A gabion wall can easily become a part of the garden decoration. You can use it as flower bed edging, as an element of your water feature and even as an outdoor fireplace.
What material is suitable for filling a gabion wall?
Once you have decided to opt for a gabion wall, the logical question for the filling material comes to mind. What is the best material for filling you gabion wall? How to choose the stones? You can use different types of stones and rocks and even combine them. Yes, rocks and stones are the most typical fillers for gabions as they meet the criteria for durability, longevity, and stability. When selecting stones for filling should keep in mind the following considerations: the stone must be frost-proof and resistant to moisture. These criteria influence the strength and reliability of the gabion wall. It is highly recommended that you consult with a landscape architect who will calculate the load and stress levels for your wall. When the gabion wall is meant as a decorative element, you can choose the filler as pet its aesthetic value. Such decorative walls can be filled with lighter, less dense rock, wood logs, river rocks, gravel, colorful glass, shells, pieces of brick or pottery, pine cones or straw, if you wish.
Gabion walls can be successfully used as a part of your outdoor furniture as well. Thus they combine the function of a wall and decoration with practicality. This is of significance for small gardens as the landscape design has to be creative and often the elements perform more than one function. Using different fillers for your gabion wall gives you the opportunity to create something really unique. Look at the gallery below and you will find many creative ideas for gabion walls in garden landscape designs. Some of them are used as retaining walls, others as privacy fences or decorative landscape elements.