Do you want to add some drama and raw appeal to your garden? Gabions can do just that. Stone and rock have long been part of our human experience and the natural language of the earth. When you add them to your outdoor living space, they not only add warmth but also a sense of time, stability and unity with the landscape.
In this blog, we at Contours Landscapes would love to help you understand what exactly Gabions are.
What is a Gabion?
Google defines the word ‘Gabion’ as a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete, or sometimes sand and soil. Engineers, Landscapers and military strategists use Gabions in civil engineering, road building, military applications and landscaping. The cages were originally wicker. People made these wicker baskets from plant-based materials, such as willow, rattan, reed, and bamboo.
Because the wicker baskets broke apart after some time, gabion basket constructors now use welded mesh wire to manufacture gabion baskets. They use galvanized, coated, or stainless steel wire. As a result, they get sturdy baskets that don’t bend when filled with rocks.
Gabion walls can support an earth wall and stabilize the soil. Furthermore, landscapers use gabions for terracing and to prevent erosion. I am sure by now you realise that Gabion baskets and Gabion walls are so much more than just rocks in a box.
Images from history show the round wicker baskets that people filled with rock to fortify battalions. Over time, these baskets broke apart easily with weathering from the elements.
The History of Gabions
The use of gabions goes as far back as ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used the structures to reinforce and protect the banks of the Nile River. In addition to the Egyptians, Leonardo Da Vinci also knew the value of Gabions. In fact, he used gabions to lay the foundation of the Castello Sforzesco, in Milan Italy.
Fast Forward To Gabions of Today
Over the years, the way people use Gabions has changed a lot. Gabions have become increasingly popular over the last few years. In fact, nowadays, Gabions are part rock art, part industrial chic, and as a result, they are frequently used in gardens. Specifically in gardens, that requires the Architectural language of the house and landscape beyond to speak the same language.
People no longer view Gabions as just functional or for engineering purposes only. They are now a must-have décor piece that adds drama from the raw elements of earth and rock.
What Are The Benefits of Gabions?
Gabion Retaining walls and soil stabilisation:
Gabions can create retaining walls that are even more effective than concrete. This is due to the fact that they allow for drainage and settling without adversely affecting the strength or lifespan of the wall. Considering Gabions’ permeability, they are not easily washed away by moving water. Hence they are often used to stabilise river banks in a natural way.
Gabions look natural and can tie a house to the surrounding landscape. This is achieved when the Gabion builders use filler materials excavated from the site or the local terrain. Moreover, when one uses Gabions as shade screens in hot climates, gabion walls provide passive cooling. They allow air to move through and provide ventilation.
Because they are highly weather-resistant, gabions will last for years. In addition, gabion constructers often fill cracks and gaps between the rocks with soil to encourage plant growth. Over time, as plants cover the retaining wall, it will further its natural appeal. This makes gabion retaining walls ideal for projects where function and beauty are essential. Furthermore, these cracks also serve as shelter for small animals such as lizards.
Landscapers and construction planners often use gabion retaining walls to control soil erosion along waterways that run through residential areas. They use these retaining walls because they are both long-lasting and visually pleasing.
Landscapers and Gardeners use Gabions for many things, including benches, outdoor fire surrounds, fence foundations, pond surrounds, planters, and even pillars for water taps. Truly, the possibilities are boundless. With droughts and water scarcity looming over our heads, landscapers are finding alternative landscaping ideas, incorporating both design elements and using little to no water.
What material can be used to fill a Gabion?
Rock is the most typical filler for its durability, longevity, and stability. Gabion constructors often choose the filler for its aesthetic attributes or use what they can recycle from a building site. They frequently use Sandstone chunks, river pebbles, and granite chunks. Since it is expensive to remove rubble and site soils, the Gabion builders fill the front face of the gabion using carefully cut, dressed stone and then fill the inside with the rubble and site soils.
Some considerations depend on a wall’s purpose. The rock we use must be dense enough to support the load for a retaining wall. Furthermore, the baskets must be sturdy enough to hold the slope back safely. In terms of design, there are a number of material options that you can consider to fill the Gabion baskets.
We at Contours Landscapes have experimented with many rock types, including slate. Furthermore, we have mastered the art of gabion design and construction. Contact us for creative Gabion construction and installations.