Gabions have been used for thousands of years for military barricades, protecting river banks, retaining walls, and have recently become trendy in residential and commercial landscaping. Gabions have experienced a resurgence because they’re an attractive and effective retaining-wall system, and versatile for landscaping elements such as:
- fire surrounds
- fence foundations
- aesthetic features
The way MRTN Architects uses gabions in the photo above is clever: they’ve framed the front walk which adds a bit of privacy, but also incorporated a steel planter to increase garden space.
Rock or stone are the most common fillers due to their durability. The fill is often chosen for its aesthetics, or by what can be recycled on site. The wall’s purpose is a key determinant of the fill. For a retaining wall, the fill must be dense enough to support the loads and forces acting on the wall.
As the fill settles to the contours of the ground below, the frictional strength created if often strong enough so that no foundation is required. Over time, as silt and vegetation fills the voids, the strength of the wall may actually increase.
Strengths (pun intended)
- A structurally sound way to build a retaining wall
- Often requires no foundation and minimal excavation
- Attractive, natural aesthetic
- Longevity, around 25 years
- Can provide a home for unwanted wildlife
- May be too bulky for small spaces
We’re recently worked on a few projects that involved gabions. Here’s a look at a recent landscape project where we used a gabion to frame a front yard.
While suitable as a DIY project, for more complex installations consult a pro landscaper, queue shameless plug: Tvelt Build (416) 844-4794; @tveltbuild.