Backyard Ideas for Gabion Walls

Gabions have been around since the late 16th century and were initially used as round cylinders filled with rock to protect field artillery. Nowadays, gabions filled with rock, concrete or sometimes sand/soil can be used in a number of different ways, such as spatial definition and as retaining walls. Simple in construction, gabions are basically wire baskets or cages filled with local materials.
We first came across gabions as a landscape feature in Denmark and Sweden, where they were filled with local stone and even firewood. Gabion walls are no longer used for commercial use alone, there are more backyard ideas for gabion walls and designs than ever before.
A gabion wall was a problem solver for our home. The slope and elevation change in our backyard has always been a major challenge. There is about 8’ of change from the back of the house and screened in pool down to the conservation area. Mowing the grass (weeds) on the side of the slope was a major pain and quit
Gabions are very simple in construction and you can either use a manufactured gabion basket or be creative using some easy to find items. We chose to be creative! After hand digging out the backside of the slope to create the level walkway that will be behind the top of the wall, Dean created the gabion basket by using 3 sections of 48” tall by 16’ long , welded, galvanized sheet/goat feedlot panels bought at a local farm supply store. One of the panels on the front and one on the back with a 2’ wide cut section of panel to create the ends of the basket. The baskets were held in place by using ½” rebar set into a 6” gravel base and tied together with galvanized wire. Landscape fabric was fastened to the back of the gabion wall so that the soil wouldn’t wash into the back of the gabion wall. After the gabion baskets were placed, a lower retaining wall of 6”x6” timbers was constructed to be used as the vegetable garden.
Over the next weekend, we finished layering the stone into the last basket and the gabion construction was complete! Now, all that was left was to backfill the gabions on the backside, creating the walkway and construct the steps that would lead down to the veggie garden. Dean put in a 12” wide band of gravel backfill up against the landscape fabric for drainage and used the excavated soil to level off the walkway between the rain garden and the gabion retaining wall. A top layer of crushed, recycled concrete was used to complete the walkway from the fire pit area and the veggie garden below was leveled for planting.
While this particular project was pretty intense, gabions can easily be constructed in your backyard and there are some great resources to get your creative juices flowing. For more details on this project and to find other backyard ideas for gabion or retainer walls please visit our website.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Blondie
    Blondie
    on Jul 22, 2017

    when using the stone, why go to all the trouble of building the gabion? Just use mortar & stone.
  • Katie
    Katie
    on Sep 2, 2019

    Very nice article, we’re thinking of building Gambian retaining wall ourselves. how many people worked on the project and how long did it take? Was it all done manually? Did you put any foundations? Thank you!

  • Hardeep Singh
    Hardeep Singh
    on Apr 21, 2020

    Did you break the concrete yourself?

Join the conversation

2 of 67 comments
  • Pam
    Pam
    on Oct 31, 2016

    Very nicely done!

  • Bruce K. Dixon
    Bruce K. Dixon
    on Jul 28, 2018

    Nobody discusses the use of gabions for small erosion problems, such as rainwater from an adjacent property. It's all about largesse.

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