Gabions form a durable natural wall that requires no maintenance or care and will give pleasure for many years. Walls and fences can be built with the stone baskets, slopes can be embanked or even seating can be created that blends in wonderfully with the landscape. Gabions are very easy to set up, the system rarely requires fixing the subsoil and is also a project that laypeople can safely handle.
Table of Contents
- Gabion comes from Italian and means basket
- other names: bulk basket, stone basket, brick basket, wire gravel box
- available in many different versions
- the baskets are mostly made of zinc wire
- are filled with quarry stones or gravel
- high stability
- weather resistant
- water permeable
- no maintenance and care
Areas of application for gabions
A gabion is a wire basket that can be filled with a wide variety of rubble stones or coarse gravel. The stone baskets are very stable, have excellent weather resistance and offer good privacy and noise protection. That is why they are not only used in landscaping, but are also used in more and more private gardens as an interesting alternative to conventional walls and walls. In contrast to concrete, they are visually more appealing and also have natural drainage due to their water permeability. Gabions can be placed side by side or stacked on top of each other. The construction of gabions is so easy that even a layman can use them. Examples:
- Screens and noise barriers
- raised beds
- herb spirals
- fireplaces and grills
- Borders for water barrels, high ponds, flower pots
- stone pillars
Various designs and shapes
Almost everyone has seen a wall or wall made of gabions with a rectangular ground plan. This form is probably the most common variant that is used. However, the wire baskets are not only available with grids arranged at right angles, those with curved sides are also possible.
- classic rectangular shape
- s-shaped gabions
- round gabions
- curved gabions (to form a ring)
- Mini gabions
- with inserts (for plants, water etc.)
There are also brick baskets with different wire thicknesses and mesh sizes on the market. These should always be adjusted to the stone size and stacking height.
- close-meshed baskets for small stones
- the higher the wall, the thicker the wire
Depending on the manufacturer, the way in which the individual wire mats are attached to one another differs. With spiral gabions, a spiral (similar to a corkscrew) is pulled through the mesh. Push-in eyelet gabions have round eyelets on the sides through which a straight rod is inserted. A third way of connecting the individual parts of the wire baskets is to use C-rings, which are pressed together with special pliers for attachment.
Natural stones or gravel are usually used to fill gabions. It is important that the size of the stones matches the mesh size of the basket so that they do not fall out or are washed out. Otherwise there are few limits to the imagination, provided that the price is irrelevant. When choosing a material, the following properties are important:
- frost resistant
- weather resistant
- sufficiently pressure-resistant
- larger than the mesh size
When layering the stones, larger cavities must be avoided. In addition, the baskets are filled slightly over the edge, so that the stones can still slide together a little. This compacts the stones and the construction becomes more stable overall.
If you want to build a wall of gabions, you can either have them built by a specialist or build them yourself. The construction is very simple and can also be carried out by a layman. In many cases, a concrete foundation can be dispensed with. During transport, the mesh baskets are folded flat and therefore take up little space. One disadvantage of gabions, however, is that they take up a lot of space. The walls are usually very wide and heavy. When planning, it must not be neglected under any circumstances that the filling of the baskets entails a very high consumption of materials. The stones have to be driven to by truck, so the construction site should be easily accessible. it will be difficult
Assembling the baskets
A brick basket consists of several individual parts that can either be purchased fully assembled or as a kit, with the individual wire mats being easy to assemble yourself. Attachment with C-clamps requires special C-ring pliers. The only thing missing from the finished baskets is the lid, because the containers still have to be filled with stones. In the case of gabions standing next to each other or stacked on top of each other, the individual baskets are first set up and the lower row (after any ground preparation) is used. The baskets are then filled. Finally the lid is put on.
Parts of a basket:
- side panels
- front and rear wall
Depending on the design, additional segments can be added:
- Spirals, wires, C-rings (for attachment)
Construction without a foundation
A level, solid floor surface is a basic requirement for the safe installation of gabions. This is the only way to protect the heavy lattice baskets from sagging. The following simple rule applies: up to a height of one meter and a width of at least 30 centimeters, a gabion wall or fence can be set up free-standing without any reinforcement or foundation. Since most substrates give way or can be washed out, it has proven useful to lay old garden tiles (30 x 30 cm), broken ceramics or a thin layer of gravel on the garden floor.
Structure with simple reinforcement
If the wall is higher than one meter or narrower than 30 centimetres, further preparations must be made. The lower baskets may then have to be sunk a little into the ground and protected against falling over with stakes. For this purpose, simple iron posts or pipes can be driven into the ground through the meshes of the floor grid. These are no longer visible later because the stones cover them. At critical points in the garden, however, there is a risk that these posts will be undermined by heavy rain and thus slip away. Such a simple reinforcement is not suitable for a slope reinforcement with a straight wall or stone pillars.
Structure with concrete foundation
Whenever narrow, high walls, stone pillars or safeguards for steep slopes are to be built, the iron supports must be able to withstand high loads. Simply hitting the ground is no longer sufficient here. The support tubes must be embedded deep into a foundation. A foundation is also necessary if the ground is very soft, wet or not particularly stable. In most cases, it is best to lay a strip foundation right away, the width of which roughly corresponds to the base area of the wire baskets.
1. Mark out the trench
To ensure that the strip foundation later has the right size and runs in a straight line, the area should first be marked out. To do this, short wooden posts are hammered into the ground at the corners of what will later be the hole and strings are stretched between them for orientation. The width and length of the foundation depends on the dimensions of the gabions.
2. Dig the trench
It is best to dig the trench for the foundation with a spade and a potato hoe. The depth of the trench should be about 80 centimeters (frost depth).
3. Securing the edges
If the ground is firm and does not crumble from the sides when digging out, it is sufficient to board only the upper edge with wooden slats. To do this, the upper edge must be aligned with the spirit level. If the edges slip off easily, the whole ditch (on the side) should be paneled with wooden boards.
If the garden soil is very damp or poorly permeable to water, a drainage layer of grit, sand or gravel protects. After compaction, the concrete can be poured in.
5. Pour in the concrete and set the posts
For smaller foundations, the concrete can still be mixed in a bucket or wheelbarrow. If the foundations are very long, it is worth renting a cement mixer. So-called probation or reinforcement mats made of iron provide additional stabilization. First, about half of the pit is filled with concrete, the reinforcement mat is laid in horizontally and the iron posts are inserted. If only edge formwork is used, this must be placed before the pit is completely filled with concrete (align with a spirit level). Finally, the entire trench is filled up to just above the edge circuit. The protruding concrete can then simply be leveled off with a board. The foundation must harden for several days before the gabions can be erected.
setting up the baskets
The further procedure is the same for gabions with and without a foundation and attachment. In order to create a uniform look with a straight alignment, the lower row of the individual ballast baskets is first set up and connected to one another with the C-rings. Only then do you put them in their final place (possibly put them over the posts).
- Align the baskets with the spirit level
- fill with stones
- for retaining walls: pile up and compact earth behind the wall
- Put the cover on and fasten it
- only then join the next row of gabions and put them on
filling in the stones
Small stones can be poured loosely into the baskets. For very long walls, a small excavator with its shovel makes the work easier. Larger stones must be filled in by hand for a visually appealing result. The best result is obtained when as many stones as possible are pressed with the flat side against the outer surface. Be careful that there are no large cavities inside, otherwise stones can sag later and the stability is endangered. In the upper area, the stones should be chosen so that the end is as straight as possible so that the lid has a good base.
Tip: Stones from the quarry always have a lot of crushed dust on the surface. You can wait for the next rain shower, but if you want a good result straight away, you should hose down the stones with a garden hose or high-pressure cleaner.
The prices for gabions consist of the costs for the wire baskets, the stone fillings and any ground preparations (foundations). Depending on the provider, the costs for the wire baskets alone vary greatly. For orientation: For a wall 5 meters wide, 30 centimeters deep and 160 centimeters high, you should plan around 700 euros. The price mainly depends on the mesh size and wire thickness of the basket. Added to this are the costs for the filling material. However, not all cheap gabions are suitable for the planned use. In addition to mesh size and wire thickness, there are other factors that determine the quality of a gabion.
- Zinc content: at least 95%
- Tensile strength: at least 450 N/mm²
- Shear strength of the wire crosses: at least 6555 N
Prices for unusual shapes such as round or curved gabions are slightly higher. Here, an average of around 130 euros is to be planned for a kit with a height and width of one meter each and a wire thickness of 4.5 mm.
Walls made of gabions are a wonderful natural enrichment for the garden: Visually much more appealing than concrete walls, more weather-resistant and less maintenance-intensive than wood, they offer the ideal solution for many areas of application. However, fences, screens or noise protection walls with the stone baskets take up a lot of space, because they need to be at least 30 centimeters wide to be stable at certain heights. Foundations are rarely necessary, but for higher walls, fastening in the subsoil in the form of iron bars rammed into the ground must be planned. Even if a little effort is necessary: a project that can also be carried out by laypeople.