All About Gabions : Cheap Retaining and Other Garden Features

A sample of gabion fillers from www.pithandvigor.com

by cuckoofarmstudios

I have been re-building a stone retaining wall (painfully by myself) in front of my own house and I have to say, it is a lot harder than it looks.   I think the same is probably true of building gabions, but I think while they are hard work, they are not so technically complicated and they are easily adapted to your use and the materials you have on hand.

mosaic of gabion materials by www.pithandvigor.com

1. Gabion Wall, 2. Gabion, 3. Wetland park oyster shell gabion wall, 4. dominus_gabion_detail, 5. Stone Filled Gabions Background, 6. St Albans

Gabion walls are widely used in major landscape construction for retaining but their application in the garden is something that is the average homeowner can use to create beautiful garden features often using materials that are recycled or that are readily available onsite.

 

Garden features made with Gabions by www.pithandvigor.com

1. gabion building, 2. Image17, 3. Hillier gabion 2, 4. Going Postal

This wall was created with precast concrete barrier (overturned) and gabions filled with square cut stones.

concrete and gabion wall from www.pithandvigor.com
1. gabion landscape, 2. gabion + precast + lights

ROLU, rosenlof/lucas, ro/lu design studio located in Minneapolis, Minnesota created this inspiring gabion fence for this small modern residential garden.

Rolu gabion features www.pithandvigor.com
1. gabion fence, 2. fence driveway and garage, 3. gabion grass close, 4. in the air

Edrich Badenhorst of Badec Bros Deco has created a huge variety of garden features based on the gabion design.  These containers and container plinths really provide alot of opportunity to get creative.
badec bros gabions via www.pithandvigor.com
1. Cubedec D Range Powder Coated, 2. Cubedec A, 3. DSCF9855, 4. DSCF9614

This image from the Maccaferri website is so interesting to me, and I am convinced that this feature has a purpose other than just looking interesting….but can’t figure what it might be.  Any one have any ideas?

gabion fencing for cattle www.pithandvigor.com

Gabion retaining walls don’t have to be big square, space consuming pieces, this tilted gabion wall provides the same function with a lot less space and a sleek look.

gabion retaining wall

by Brendan Ehlermann

gabion planters

by Badec Bros Deco

badec bros gabion water fountian

gabion feature wall with fountain

by Badec Bros Deco

Badec Bros Deco not only created the beautiful terraced landscape but the mosaic planters as well.  (I think I might have to feature them in their own future post).

gabion retain walls garden

by Badec Bros Deco

Gabion forms can be created with chicken wire…but if you want a more long lasting a professional look, you can find some great advice and buy the baskets from Maccaferri or Terra Aqua among others.  I read recently that if you have materials to fill them with, you can create walls for about 15$ a sq. foot (about a quarter of the price of a dry stacked wall).   There is some excellent engineering information here and here.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

16 Comments

  1. Sarah O on October 10, 2009 at 11:36 am

    This post is fantastic! I’ve always felt kind of sorry for gabion walls – they’re cheap and efficient and do their job well, and yet they’re not very attractive, unless plants like virginia creeper have decided to colonize them. Poor things. Now I have some ideas for how to use the old mussel shells we used to use as mulch on our garden.

  2. Natalie Blackburn on October 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    The one you aren’t sure about looks like a check dam of some type to slow really heavy water flows.

  3. Sprout on October 10, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Love the gabions! Have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them used anywhere though. How long do they last before the metal cages are replaced?

    You have my sympathy on the retaining wall. I’ve never built one, but after learning how in college, I resolved never to be a party to the construction of one. All I retained about retaining wall construction – dead men. I see a lot of walls are built without them – big mistake I think.

  4. Susan aka Miss R on October 11, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I immediately thought about the broken pot filled gambions from Chelsea and a project by Bernard Trainor that he calls Byron. It’s a gambion water feature filled with yellow tumbled glass that is also internally illuminated.

  5. ryan on October 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I think the maccaferri gabion is on the website to show how strong their gabion wire is. It could be a passage to let wildlife pass. I don’t think it has anything to do with water, because gabions already let water pass through and if they needed an opening this big they would have had to armor the ground with stone.

  6. christine on November 9, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Great post. I’ve always loved gabion walls and love the really skinny ones toward the end of the post. I’ve been trying to figure out how to build one in my own yard, that might be the perfect solution for my small scale lot.

  7. Rick Labao on March 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    This is an AWESOME site! Lots of inspirations and ideas to my Spring/Summer garden projects. Keep up the goodwork guys/gals.

    • rochelle on March 12, 2010 at 6:51 am

      thanks Rick — so glad you enjoy it…but it’s just me – one gal.

  8. john on April 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    check out KUBRIC wall systems website, good exaples of gabions

  9. Peter Karelse on May 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Thi9s is a beautiful site. Good work. We have been looking for the galvenized mesh to create a small dividing wall in the garden. We have noticed these dividers as property divisions in Europe. They look fantastic. would you have an address in Ontario where I can buy the mesh for a wall about 6 inches thick, 4 feet wide and 6 feet high, 2 inch squares holes. Thank you.

    • rochelle on May 25, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      Hi peter — thanks for stopping by….but unfortunately I don’t know who to forward you too in you neck of the woods…will email you though if I come across anyone. good luck.

  10. DeNacho on January 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    my previous comment didn’t post so sorry if this duplicates….
    we started a HUGE gabion project at our house last year. we live on the river and flood almost every year – comes with the territory. my husband works in Environmental so was familiar with gabions and decided to overhaul our yard & beach with them to help with erosion. the effect is actually pretty cool – i think it looks better in person than in pics.
    if it helps Peter, we got our wire from Tractor Supply and it’s called Hog Confinement Wire. it’s much more durable than the wire that we found from pre-made gabions. making our own also allowed us to create custom sizes. and the most important factor…cost – we paid a lot less making them ourselves than had we bought them.
    we fill ours with old concrete from several demo projects that we and friends had – 4 of our friends are commercial & residential contractors so they just loved us when we asked for their concrete scrap!
    http://blondemafia.blogspot.com/search/label/gabions

  11. Dan on February 2, 2011 at 2:36 am

    It seems that the funny looking sloped gabion wall you’re wondering about from the Maccaferri website is directly over a drain. This would allow servicing of the drain and in a flood condition would also likely help prevent the drain from pile up.

  12. George Ndhlovu on March 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I had not understood the use of gabions in landscaping. After looking at some pictures i have learnt that gabions can be erected anywhere.

  13. Josh on May 27, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    It’s not a horse jump is it !?

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