Gabions in the Garden

Gabion wire mesh cages for residential landscaping

Gabions are boxes made of wire. They hold all manner of materials, but mostly rock of some description. They  usually serve as retaining walls or dividers/fences. And up until recently I found them extremely utilitarian, dull, and pretty ugly. OK for a highway project, but totally unsuitable for my beautiful garden designs.

I’ve changed my mind. Partly because I recognize their practicality, but more because creative people are coming up with new and attractive applications.

So without further ado, here are some of my favourite images cribbed from Garden Supply:

many different applications of gabions
Many different applications of gabions; these are pretty small–click to enlarge.

The above images are pretty self-explanatory (and click for enlarged picture): most are retaining walls, numbers 3 and 10 are fences. But let’s look at some more closely:

Gabion adapted for decorative garden application.
#4 Gabion adapted for decorative garden application.

Above you’ll notice they’ve used alternating dark and light stone to fill the cages, and of course, angled them rather than just positioned them straight across. Landscape cloth lines the back of the cages to prevent soil from filling the spaces between the rocks. One of the great benefits of gabions is allowing water to seep through, eliminating the need to create a drainage system behind the retaining wall as you would need to do with any solid wall.

Gabion fence
#10 Gabion fence

The fence above consists of 8′ long panels, 6′ high, 9″ deep (according to Garden Supply). As with any fence, the posts are sunk into a concrete footing. But look how creatively they filled the cages, with waves of different coloured rocks. The website doesn’t say where this garden is, but it would look lovely in an arid location. Hello Kamloops?

Here’s another attractive fence:

Gabion fence
#3 Gabion fence

Similar to the red one, but simpler and more practical, with less labour involved. In the case of the red fence, the wire mesh is almost invisible so nothing interferes with the look of the decorative rock. This one on the other hand leaves the mesh purposely visible, and even the bracing wires (you can see the black squares holding wires that keep the sides together preventing buckling) are clearly exposed. Both may all be coated with a poly-something material. Incidentally, using gabions for some of your residential garden needs may cost less than concrete, depending on size and materials.

 And this gallery from Gabion Wall Expert of some of my favourites: again, click to enlarge.

gabion collage 2
More gabions.

Many of the above pictures show different textures that can be achieved. Here are more:

Creativity using texture.
Creativity using texture.

And last but not least, lighting:


This retaining wall is capped with wood decking which is under-lit with pot lights, and one step light. Nice.

Lighting a gabion wall with spotlights
Lighting a gabion wall with spotlights

This just gives you an idea of what can be accomplished with gabions. Admittedly they do take up a little more space than their equivalent anything else, but to what great effect!



Would love to hear your comments. Go to Client Site Analysis page for design help.

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