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Are Gabion Walls the Best Solution for Your Landscape Project?

  • 16.02.24
  • Construction Products

Discover if gabion walls provide the ideal structural solution for your needs. Learn all about the advantages, costs and general construction technicalities.

Gabion walls. Distinct in appearance and reliable in structure, these caged enclosures are steeped in history and offer various structural solutions for civil engineers, builders and landscapers alike.

But despite the flexibility, variety and advantages on offer, will a gabion wall prove the ideal structure for your specifications?

In this blog, we discuss gabion wall definitions with nine benefits and general construction insights to see whether it’s the right wall for you.

Discover if gabion walls provide the ideal structural solution for your needs. Learn all about the advantages, costs and general construction technicalities.

Gabion walls - Hickman & Love

What is a Gabion Wall?

A gabion wall is a caged enclosure, typically containing fairly large, heavy contents, such as stone, brick or concrete. The word “gabion” derives from the Italian “gabbione”, which means “big cage”, hence why gabion walls also get named “gabion cages” or simply “gabions”.

Dating back over 7000 years ago, Egyptians first used gabion walls to control flood waters on the riverbanks of the Nile. This purpose of erosion protection maintains its civil engineering pedigree to this day, with countless gabion walls erected across slopes and shorelines.

However, nowadays, gabion walls are used for other practicalities, such as motorway embankments and aesthetic preferences in gardens and parks as a prominent feature for walls, pillars, benches, and even base structures.

Gabion walls prove popular with gardeners and landscapers because they’re more accessible. In theory, anyone can construct gabion wall baskets compared to the complexities of building a wall from concrete or brick.

9 Benefits of Gabion Walls

If you’re sitting on the fence, here are nine reasons why gabion walls can be a great choice of wall for your requirements:

1. Erosion Resistance

Returning to the initial purpose introduced by the Egyptians, gabion walls protect areas from erosion by absorbing the force of flowing water and dissipating the energy.

2. Durability

With a cage enclosure made from steel and containing hardened rocks, stones, bricks or concrete inside, you can guarantee gabion walls provide enough strength for your structural purposes.

3. Flexibility

As with the overall durability, gabion walls can also deform under immense stress, similar to the role of reinforced concrete when required to bend while maintaining its structural integrity. This ability to be flexible makes gabion walls stronger over time.

4. Not Permanent

Due to being contained within a cage, gabion walls avoid being fixed permanently in the ground like traditional brick or concrete walls. Therefore, you can take down your gabion wall to accommodate changing environments or just as a general preference to move it elsewhere.

5. Easy Installation

The accessible nature of a gabion wall makes it a relatively easy thing to install. Simply fasten your cage, prepare the ground and fill it with your choice of filling. The only thing to remember is to prepare for heavy lifting!

6. Permeable

Having space between your rock and stone fillings inside your gabion cage means the structure can breathe and sustain its structural integrity.

7. Affordable

Gabion walls can prove a cost-effective structural solution. The easy installation can avoid labour costs, while the filling can come as cheap as the materials available, even if it’s discarded waste or rubble. Reports show that a 25% rock replacement for a cheaper, locally sourced solution will not alter the stability.

However, we strongly suggest you invest in high-quality prefabricated tensile steel reinforcement cages to ensure your gabion wall is structurally sound.

8. Attractive

What began as a practical protective barrier on shorelines and riverbanks has made its way into show gardens due to the attractive and distinctive appearance gabion walls can offer a landscape.

The appearance is open to interpretation, but all your fillings can be customised accordingly, with different materials, textures and colours all possible. Just remember to leave your better pieces on the outside.

9. Eco-Friendly

When constructed locally without transporting many materials, gabion walls have much less environmental impact than traditional alternatives. Plus, with the fillings being reused materials, you’re saving on the demand for any more concrete.

How Much Are Gabion Walls?

Cheaper, stronger, and quicker to install, gabion walls are a cheap but effective structural solution. After purchasing the steel for your cage, your rock, brick or stone fillings can be sourced locally or at a much lower cost.

You can expect to pay between £12.50-£15 for a 0.5m x 0.5m x 0.5m basket weighing 2kg, with fillings and labour not included.

Are Gabion Walls Load-Bearing?

Gabion walls are load-bearing with a typical minimum bearing capacity of 100Kpa. But before you build, ensure you accurately anticipate the loads your gabion wall will withstand.

Can Gabions Be Used as Retaining Walls?

By withstanding soil on slopes, hills and ridges, gabion walls serve as suitable retaining walls in various environments and conditions. The permeable advantages of gabion walls also allow it to avoid any drainage issues in these conditions.

Do Gabion Walls Need Drainage?

In the case of retaining or load-bearing walls, drainage is crucial to avoid hydrostatic pressure building up behind the wall and potentially impacting the overall structural identity. Due to the spacing within the cage, drainage should not be an issue with your gabion walls.

Do Gabion Walls Need Foundations?

Gabion walls do not require concrete foundations but will require the necessary groundwork to ensure they don’t fall over. Your base needs to be compacted, which might require removing topsoil or other soft surface materials.

How Long Do Gabion Walls Last?

The longevity of your gabion wall will depend on the environmental conditions. At a minimum, your gabion walls will last 10-15 years, with maximum longevity reaching 75-100 years.

Reinforce Your Project with High-Quality Prefabricated Steel Cages

At Hickman & Love, we know all about the advantages of using gabion walls across civil engineering, construction, and landscaping projects. However, the structural integrity of your wall is only as reliable as the steel that contains it.

As a quality-assured manufacturer and supplier of premium steel reinforcement products across the UK and Ireland, we provide a range of H-grade, high tensile, steel reinforcement, gabion wall cages qualified with BS4449:2005 accreditation.

For further information or to order please call +44 (0)121-557-2191 or email enquiries@hickmanandlove.co.uk we look forward to hearing from you. Or like us on Facebook to keep up to date with projects and news.

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