Why you should build a gabion wall in your garden: pros and cons

Have you ever noticed those metal retaining gabions filled with stones at the edge of roads? How would you see them in your own backyard?

A gabion wall as a flowerbed
A gabion wall as a flowerbed

Those gabion baskets for decades have been an essential defense against the unstable banks of the roads, allowing the flow of water and, at the same time, the containment of soil that would otherwise have slipped on the roadway.

Still today those containment gabions filled with stones do their job very well even if new ones are built more and more rarely and, from what we can see, the new ones certainly do not have the aesthetic impact of the old ones, in which square stones were laid that were also beautiful to see, as well as extremely functional.

In today's gabions wall the functional aspect is definitely preferred to the aesthetic one and often the nets are filled with crushed stones and in a mechanical way.

In the past, instead, the stones were placed by hand, one by one, and it is also for this reason that those hydraulic containment works looked aesthetically like dry stone walls, only more precise and uniform since they were bound to the cages that had to contain them.

The difference between dry stone walls and galvanised steel gabion stone lies in the fact that the latter are much more massive and thicker and are better able to contain the soil; moreover, gabions can be superimposed one on the other, as if they were gigantic bricks, to form real walls able to contain even small landslides.

As mentioned above, if you want to create something that is not only functional but also pleasing to the eye, the way of laying the stones in a gabion basket does not differ much from the laying technique necessary for the creation of a drywall.

The interesting news is that now the gabion walls can happily marry with private and public gardens where they cease, partially, to be works of naturalistic engineering to become almost elements of furniture and to replace the traditional fences.

To do this, the gabion baskets have been modified in their structure and their size to be able to adapt to any backyard, from the most rustic to the most modern, ending up becoming almost an extension of the masonry of the main building.

You might think that the laying of gabion walls is something that is beyond DIY, if only because of the weight that such works come to assume once finished, but this is only partially true.

The widest selection of metal gabions that you can buy directly online can be found on Mano Mano, at this address:

Gabion walls on ManoMano

The gabion baskets can then be purchased disassembled and, most importantly, empty, and the DIY enthusiast need only arrange for them to be assembled and filled with stones of his taste or that he has readily available nearby.

As you can see the metal cages for stones can be of various sizes and, what is more important, can take much more varied forms than the traditional parallelepipeds that can not always find in a private garden their proper location.

The gabion walls are easy to assemble and the width of the mesh is variable to allow the insertion of stones more or less small according to taste.

But we come to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of this stylistic solution for the garden.

The advantages of using gabion walls

The main advantage is to have a solution suitable for DIY, on the understanding that you could also buy gabions already filled with stones of your taste from specialized companies.

The advantage of buying empty metal cages for stones is that you can mount the gabion baskets even in places that are not immediately accessible in your garden and then fill them at your leisure with stones that you may already have available.

If you buy the filled gabion walls you will have to have them delivered with a truck equipped with a crane and you will have to be sure that the truck has access to the place where the gabion baskets will be placed.

Now, let's imagine that you, as a result of working a land, restructuring and / or demolition of a building you find yourself to have a large number of stones.

What to do with them? If you wanted to dispose of them you would have to call a company that, with costs not exactly insignificant will have to recover them all and then transport them to places targeted for the disposal of inert materials.

Thanks to the gabion walls, with those same stones you could create benches and tables for your garden, the solutions are the most varied.

Remember in any case that you can also use the gabion baskets to create a boundary wall or to embank a sloping terrain being sure that the stones, just like the works of naturalistic engineering that you can see at the edge of the roads, will perform very well their function of drainage and support.

Obviously if you have to contain considerable volumes of soil and / or you intend to superimpose a gabion to another perhaps it is the case that you ask the advice of a surveyor to ensure that their installation is performed properly.

Other advantages consist in being able to use rounded river stones that, in case of dry masonry or with mortar are highly inadvisable because they do not bind together well. The metal gabion baskets instead contains them and allows to obtain a uniform wall regardless of the nature of the stones.

Finally, another great advantage: with the gabion walls you can use the stones that normally would not be possible to use for stone masonry.

Anyone who has a little practice with stone masonry knows that the more squared stones are the better, moreover to wall the stone it is necessary that the large part of the stone is laid horizontally (imagine the stone as a brick) with the consequence that the visible part of the stone will be reduced; if this were not the case it would not be possible to obtain a stable wall.

Caging the stones we can instead put the large part vertically and then fill the inside of the gabion basket with gravel more or less large and not valuable stones that will remain hidden from view.

In this way we can obtain a wall really nice to see. On the surface it seems to be created with much more massive stones than they actually are but, held together by the wire mesh, the whole does not lose any of its functionality and solidity.

The gabion walls are obviously designed to avoid phenomena of "leaning" due to the weight of the stones on the outer mesh and, to this end, during the filling phase it is necessary to place the appropriate spacer hooks that have the purpose of keeping the depth of the cage uniform.

There is no need to add that the metal used for the gabions is galvanized to ensure a very long life which, being exposed to the weather in all periods of the year, is a detail of no small importance.

gabion wall project

To give you an idea of the assembly, here is a video made by BAUHAUS that shows how gabion walls can be used instead of traditional backyard fences.

First, however, a couple of more advantages, this time really the last: the gabion walls filled with stones also have a noise reduction function and, if you have a particular artistic flair you can have stones of different colors delivered separately and then, with patience, fill the gabions to get the decorations you prefer!

The disadvantages of using gabion baskets

Let us now come to the disadvantages that are not numerous and yet there are.

Well, the first disadvantage that might not please those who are afraid of insects and reptiles is the fact that inside the pile of stones contained in the cage is easy to find shelter some unwanted guests such as lizards and other various insects. Of course, this is a common problem with any drywall, but it's worth noting.

The second disadvantage is that the convenience of assembly and filling has as a side effect the fact that the wall will always be covered by a wire mesh and therefore, if you like, not completely exposed and not completely "natural". Not that the beauty of the exposed stone is lost but, certainly, you can not consider it complete.