How to Build a Gabion Wall
Gabion walls have always been a boon to the landscape. These walls are not only low-maintenance and highly durable but also add a beauty element to the landscape. Used for hundreds of years by engineers and militaries worldwide, Gabion walls provide an attractive, effective, and inexpensive wall system.
What is a Gabion Wall?
The word Gabion is derived from the Italian word gabbione that means a big cage. Gabions are cylinders, boxes, or enclosures filled with any inorganic material; bricks, rocks, and concrete debris.
The cage or the enclosure is usually made with stainless, coated, or sturdy galvanized steel that doesn’t bend when filled with rocks. While landscaping, a Gabion wall can be used for various reasons such as supporting an earth wall, stabilizing the soil, preventing erosion, etc.
How to Build a Gabion Wall
If you are considering installing a Gabion wall, this quick guide is going to be handy. At the end of this guide, you will be able to construct a DIY Gabion wall as an inexpensive alternative to expensive concrete walls.
You can easily create a Gabion wall from scratch using a wire basket. You can also build a wire wall and then fill it with stones of various sizes and colours.
You might be wondering what types of stone you can use in a Gabion wall or basket. Although all stones are not suitable for this wall, the popular options are pieces of rock, gravel, and decorative stones. Rectangular and rounded granite, quartzite, and sandstones are considered the best for this purpose.
These stones come in different sizes, and you can mix and use large and small stones of various colours. Don’t try to fit the stones perfectly, as there should be enough space for air and water to flow through.
Other than stones, you can use other leftover materials as well from different projects, such as tiles or bricks. By reusing existing material, you can add variety to your wall and reduce the cost.
However, it is important to have a plan about the material you are going to use to fill a Gabion wall. It is crucial because different materials may need a different thickness of the wire.
For instance, if you use pebbles, you need to use a thinner mesh, so the stones do not slide out. On the other hand, if you are using larger rocks, the diameter of the mesh wire should be thicker to support the structure.
- Gabion Cages
The Gabion cage you will buy depends on the type of wall you want to build. If you need a retaining wall, the cage should be made up of thick wire so you can fill it with larger stones. For a decorative wall for a garden, you can choose from different style baskets available.
Gabion baskets available in the market are of different sizes. Therefore, you can use them in various ways. For example, by stacking small Gabion baskets, you can build a tall wall. Typically, basket sizes start from 12-inch cubes and increase by 3 inches, which means that you can buy 15-inch cube baskets, 18-inch cube baskets, and so on.
But this isn’t mean that you can only buy cube-shaped baskets. Rectangular baskets are taller and wider and usually start from 18 inches in height and 12 inches in thickness.
The most popular size for Gabion walls is 6 foot long baskets. These baskets have a middle panel that prevents wires from bulging out once filled with rocks or stones.
Gabion Retaining Wall Cost
The estimated cost of a Gabion wall varies depending on many reasons. If you are buying the material online, you can calculate the cost by inputting your wall’s size and the type of wire.
Please note that the cost of stones, wooden poles for support, and any concrete would be additional.
Steps for Construction
Following are the steps included in DIY Gabion wall construction:
- Mark the location of the Gabion wall using a level and string line. Make sure that the ground is levelled.
- Clean the construction site from leaves, grass, and debris. If the soil at the site is hard, you can insert the wall right into the soil. However, if the soil is sandy, you need to use concrete or gravel to prepare the soil to hold the wall.
- Space your support posts every six feet. These posts should be embedded in concrete. You can position them in a way that they are not visible once the wall is constructed.
- Lay your baskets with the base and slide them to the posts. The Gabion baskets are held together with a steel spiral that has been winded through the panel edges. Once your spirals are in place, pinch them to prevent slipping out.
- Start filling the basket with the selected stones. Make sure that the exterior stones are a little larger from the openings in the Gabion mesh so they won’t slide out. For filling the middle of the basket, you can use cheaper stones.
- If you want taller walls, you can stack baskets on each other. Once your first basket layer is filled, close the lid with wires and add another on the top. Follow the same steps as you did for the first one.
This is how to build a Gabion rock wall in simple steps with the minimum cost.
How to Build Your Own Gabion Basket
If you are not much interested in buying Gabion baskets, you can build your own Gabion basket. It’s not rocket science, and anyone can build it with a bit of care.
It may take a little time for the first time, but once you know how to do it, it wouldn’t take much effort. So here, we will discuss how to build your own Gabion basket with dimensions of 1000x500x500 mm.
For a 1000x500x500mm basket, you need:
- 1000x500mm panels – 4
- 500×500 mm panels – 2
- 1000 mm in length spiral winders – 4
- 500 mm in length spiral winders – 8
You can adjust the length of the spiral winders according to your requirements.
Steps to Build Your Gabion Basket
- Take both largest panels. Stand them on their ends and place the edge of a panel at 90-degrees to the edge of the other panel.
- Using one of the 1000 mm spiral winders, bind the mesh of both panels. Once the winder is through a couple of apertures, you would be able to spin it using your hands quickly. Repeat the process for all 4 1000 m panels.
- Once all 1000 mm panels are in space, use 500 mm panels. Sit this 500×500 mm panel on the top of the basket, and with the help of a 500 mm winder, attach the panel to the rest of the basket. Add three edges and leave the last one so that you can fill the basket from there.
- Once three edges are attached, flip the basket and repeat the process for the other end. Attach all four edges of this end.
Your Gabion basket is ready to be filled. Keep the eight 500mm spiral winder with you, and once you have filled the basket with stones, use it to attach the last end of the 500mm panel to close the basket completely.
Repeat the steps mentioned above to build as many of your own Gabion baskets as you want.
Gabion Basket Retaining Wall
You can construct a Gabion basket retaining wall using the baskets made with the DIY process described above.
Measure the area where you want to create the wall, calculate the Gabion baskets required, and using the above process, build them.
When you have the desired number of cages, it is time to put all materials together and build a Gabion basket retaining wall. Assemble these rectangular baskets end to end to the wall site and fill them with rocks.
Usually, a Gabion basket retaining wall doesn’t need a concrete foundation. However, depending on the site’s surface, you may need to do some work to the surface. Otherwise, these heavy walls can easily topple over.
If you build a Gabion wall on bedrock, you would only need about 25mm of the base course.
Although lightweight and smaller Gabion walls do not require soil testing, if you are building a heavy Gabion basket retaining wall, let the experts check your soil to evaluate the bearing strength of your subsoil.
Gabion Fence Posts
Gabion fence posts have always been a popular way to make home gardens attractive and appealing. You can either buy a Gabion fence post and get it installed. However, if you are inclined towards a DIY project, here is a quick way to achieve it.
- Mark spots on the ground if you have to insert more than one post.
- Remove any grass, weeds, and topsoil using a flat shovel. If the soil is hard, you can put the post in the existing soil.
- Depending on your Gabion fence post basket, place or insert it in the soil.
- Use a wooden post and insert it into the ground.
- Now fill the Gabion basket with stones of your choice. Insert all posts on already measured spots, so it looks attractive.
The Last Words
Gabion walls have been in use for centuries. Different groups of people use these walls for various purposes. These walls are highly permeable, and you don’t have to install a drainage system separately for them. If you want to know anything more about these wonderful walls, do let us know, and we will help you out.