Used for thousands of years, gabion walls provide a retaining wall option that is both effective and attractive. The word “gabion” comes from an Italian word meaning “big cage” (“gabbione”), referring to the manner in which gabion walls are constructed. They are essentially containers, which can be filled with a variety of different materials, that form a wall that can be both useful and decorative.
Originally, gabion walls were constructed of wicker, but today’s hardscaping demands have required an upgrade to sturdy galvanized, coated, or stainless steel wire. Then we fill the “cage” with brick, rock, or concrete debris, according to both structural need and aesthetic preference. Gabion walls can be used to support an earth wall, prevent erosion, stabilize the soil, or be used for other practical purposes. And of course, they can be purely decorative if that is your goal.
Examples of Gabion walls. Throughout history, gabion walls have been used to shore up the banks of the Nile River, as military fortifications during the Medieval era, and in modern times to stabilize shorelines, riverbanks, and highways against erosion. Leonardo da Vinci even used gabion walls for the foundation of the San Marco castle in Milan.
How do gabion walls translate into hardscaping for today’s homeowner? Check out the following benefits:
Strength – in fact, the strength of gabion walls increase over time as materials settle
Conform to ground movement – because of the way they are constructed (using filler materials) gabion walls conform to ground movement. This provides additional stability.
Environmentally friendly – onsite material can be used as filler, eliminating transportation impacts, or you can choose environmentally friendly materials from a nearby provider
Sustainability – gabion walls can be used as shade screens in hot climates, while allowing air to move through
Permeability – this type of structure is self-draining, resisting erosion
Aesthetics – you can fill a gabion wall with a variety of materials, allowing you to create a seamless look that ties your home to the landscape
If you’re considering a hardscape project involving walls of any type, give us a call to learn more about gabion walls. We can help you decide if this versatile structure would work for your needs, and provide more information on construction methods, materials, and installation.