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How Gabions Can be Used in Your Garden

Gabions are a valuable tool in your journey of growing a garden. Both aesthetically pleasing and helpful, there are many creative ways gabions can be used to enhance and help your garden. Here are some tips for using them most effectively.

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Maintaining order in your garden

Gabions can aid in keeping your garden organized. As a retaining wall they can be used to terrace and level the ground and provide a border preventing weeds from sprouting up in inappropriate places. By filling gabions with natural stone, you can create a natural-looking border in your garden while maintaining the structure provided by the cage itself.

If you're growing vegetables, herbs, or other plants that need to be sorted by height, gabions can help with that as well through a raised garden bed. By building different levels of gabions, you can give each plant the amount of sunlight it needs without worrying about crowding each other out.

Not only does this method look great, but it also helps your plants stay healthy by getting the right amount of sun and air while allowing you to more easily work and access the garden beds. There are a few things to remember when using gabions for an organization. Ensure your stones are larger than the opening of your mesh. If you are adding soil in the gabion itself make sure to utilize filter fabric or a planter insert.

Organizing your garden with gabions is a great way to add some extra flair while keeping your plants healthy and happy. Gabions can be used as planters, walls, fences, screen walls, water features, and decorative elements making them a great choice to add related elements throughout your garden.

Gabion structures can help contain or beautify the growth of some plants that tend to spread. The plants you choose will vary depending on how you are utilizing the gabions in your garden and the amount of soil mass available for planting. While gabions are a great way to organize your garden, some plants require a little more planning. These plants have aggressive roots that can damage the stones or escape the confines of the gabion. This can be addressed in most cases by placing plastic or metal planter boxes inside the top of the gabion allowing the roots to be contained. Vines can also be a great addition to a gabion wall as it adds to the natural aesthetic of the garden by mixing in the stone and vegetation just like you would see in the wild. Just be sure to keep up with the vine maintenance and they can quickly get out of hand.

Raised beds

Gabions can help create raised beds for your garden with minimal cost. All you need is some wire mesh, stones, and plants. This method is excellent for people who want to garden but don't have a lot of space or are looking for a unique look in their garden.

Raised beds can be built in a number of ways. Some of the most common are below.

Gabion baskets can be used to line a larger bed area giving you a 6” or 1” thick border of gabion baskets. Then you fill the void between the baskets with soil and you are ready to plant. Just make sure that just like all gabion projects you use filter fabric as a separation layer between soil and your stone fill material.

You can create square or rectangular gabion planters by taking larger gabion baskets and modifying the lid by cutting sections out of the mesh lid and replacing some of the stone with filter fabric and soil or planter inserts. Just pay attention to how much mesh you remove as you may need to provide additional reinforcement to the basket.

You can create circular gabion planters by taking a rectangular piece of gabion mesh equivalent in length to the circumference of your desired planter and join the ends and secure them with tie wire, helical spirals, or hog rings. Once you have your cylinder you can add a planter insert or soil and fabric just like the rectangular gabions.

Raised gabion beds improve the ability to access the plants, can help with sunlight exposure, allow better quality soils to be used, provide excellent drainage, and look great!

If you want to add a bit of extra flair to your raised bed, you can use different color stones or even some recycled glass rocks. You can also plant climbing plants and vines outside the gabion to add some greenery to the face.

Regarding what plants to use, this is a very regional based decision and would be the same for any raised garden bed so if you're unsure which plants to choose, ask a local nursery or gardening store.

Fencing

To help secure your garden or provide a more striking border, you can build a fence out of gabions. Gabion fences allow you to mix and match a variety of materials. Several fence options include: continuous line of gabions; wooden posts between gabions; alternating wood panel sections and gabion sections, and gabion posts with wood panels. Gabions should always have support through either internal posts set in concrete or posts between gabion sections set in concrete or some combination of the two.

Gabion fences provide excellent sound absorption due to the texture of the face provided by the stone fill and can be improved even further utilizing sandbags in the middle of the fill area creating a serene oasis.

Gabions can be an attractive and low-cost way to create a fence around your pool.

Gabion Wall

Irrigation fountains

Garden irrigation fountains can be made with gabions. They are simple to construct and come in decorative and practical varieties to water your landscape. Advantages of using a gabion for an irrigation fountain include:

  • You can use any stone to create a water feature that compliments your garden's style.
  • The water is recirculated back to the top of the fountain, so there is little to no waste.
  • Gabion fountains are low maintenance and easy to construct.

If you're adding a gabion fountain to your garden, there are things to consider. First, you'll need to choose a location for your fountain. Choosing a spot that's level and has good drainage is essential. Otherwise, you run the risk of flooding your garden. Second, you'll need to decide what stone you want to use. The best stone for your fountain will depend on the look you're going for and the climate in your area. Third, you'll need to choose a strong enough pump to circulate the water through the stones.

Retaining walls

Gabions make great retaining walls for your garden. If you have a slope and experience soil runoff that puts your plants in danger of flooding or being carried away, gabions help manage and stop erosion. You can easily terrace your garden allowing you to utilize flat space while the gabions allow water to pass through while preventing the soil from being carried away with the water.

They are sturdy, durable, cost-effective, and DIY friendly. You don’t have to pour concrete which can be complicated and expensive and they work far better than railroad tie walls. A gabion wall requires little maintenance, and will last a long time. When building your wall, here are things you should consider:

  • The height of the wall
  • The type of stone you want to use
  • The size of the stones
  • How you will secure the top of the wall

The height of the gabion wall obviously depends on the purpose of the wall. The height will depend on your preference if you're using it as a decorative feature, the amount of hillside you are retaining and if you use any additional internal supports. The thickness of the wall is generally based on the height of the wall.

A wet environment demands a different kind of stone than a dry climate. A stone in a damp environment won't absorb water and crack in freezing temperatures. A stone in a dry climate can withstand high temperatures without being damaged. Stones you can use include: Limestone, Sandstone, Granite and Slate.

A stone suitable for a wet climate includes: Bluestone, Basalt and Flagstone.

The size of the stones is also important. They should be big enough that the water won't carry them away but small enough that they can be easily placed in the gabion.

Gabions are a versatile and low-maintenance option for your garden. With a little creativity, you can use them for just about anything you can imagine!

Planters

Gabions can make good planters to have throughout your garden. They prevent soil from penetrating the rock and add variety to the landscape of your garden. You can use them to create a flower bed, a herb garden and a vegetable garden.

It is always nice to have a few raised planters for aesthetic purposes. Strawberries and lettuce are two examples of plants that thrive in raised pots. A gabion cage can make an excellent pot for these plants. Here is a procedure you can follow to transform gabions into planters:

  • Fill the gabion with stone and line the soil zone with filter fabric or a plastic insert.
  • Fill the planting area with soil.
  • Plant your chosen plants.
  • Water regularly.

It is essential to line the planting zone with filter fabric or a plastic insert before adding soil. It will prevent the dirt from seeping through the stones and making a mess.

Advantages to creating planters this way.

  • The gabion will last longer than most planters
  • It is easier to control the amount of water the plants receive.
  • The plants will be less likely to experience root rot.

Benches and walkways

Gabions can make great benches and walkways through your garden.

Here is how you can transform a gabion into a bench:

  • Place the gabion on a well compacted surface.
  • Fill the gabion with stone.
  • Adjust stone placement by hand to ensure there are no voids.
  • Place a wooden bench top or stone on top of the filled gabion to create a seat.

You can create lined walkways with gabions utilizing small 9”x9” or 12”x12” rectangular gabions with the length based on your install location giving you nice clean borders along your walkway.

Conclusion

Gabions are a versatile and low-maintenance option for your garden. With some planning, you can use them to create irrigation fountains, retaining walls, and other features. Make sure you use the correct type of stone for your climate and that you sufficiently secure the tops of your gabions. You can make great benches and walkways because they're durable and easy to maintain. By following these steps, you can ensure your gabions are not just for functional purposes. They will add beauty and variety to your garden and save you time and money in the long run.