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6 messages
07/07/2013 at 15:37


I have a long sloping garden from the house to a small wooded area. The previous fence fell down due to old age or so I thought! However since having a new fence put up a few years ago it has become evident that there is soil erosion as the metal posts are now at the edge of this vanishing land! 

I also thought that a gabion wall may improve sound-proofing from the nearby dual carriageway.

In addition to this problem the high hedges, surrounding tall trees and fencing mean the garden rarely gets full sunlight and I find it really difficult to get clothes dry unless its a baking hot day such as today.

I was wondering how expensive it would be to use gabions to both act as a retaining wall and to build up the level of the garden? 

How deep would I need to go to provide retentive properties? Would this be particularly difficult in a wooded area? 

If I was to use gabions could i somehow attach fencing to the outer wall to give extra security?

Could I then plant trees/shrubs on top of the gabions?  What depth of soil would I need to be able to plant for example rhododendrons? Would I have to effectively create raised beds to accommodate this? How much length of the garden would I effectively lose to build this barrier and to provide sufficient depth and width for planting of substantial shrubs?

Can gabions be built upon for example a summerhouse or used safely as a driveway?

I imagine it would not be too difficult to lay a lawn over gabions by gradually decreasing the stones within the gabions with a mesh such as that to prevent weed growth to retain the stones, gravel then top soil before finally turf.

If you had an outer circuit of gabions could you then build up the centre with hardcore, then gravel and top soil to effectively give a sunken area to the garden?

Can gabions have decking laid on top of them? 

How stable are gabions?

Any other ideas and suggestions please ???

08/07/2013 at 20:25

I think you are asking too much of this messageboard.  Sounds like you need some serious engineering help with good retaining walls.

08/07/2013 at 20:31

Ok, thanks. I didn't know if anyone on the forum might have their own personal experience of gabions which they could share with me. The questions were just random thoughts that popped into my head that i thought may be useful to know the answer to.

23/08/2013 at 14:27

I'm putting gabions in my garden and filling them with bricks/blocks from the house we are demolishing. I have lined the fronts and visible sides with the roof tiles which are large flat plain grey concrete tiles (with some moss etc. on them). Yes they are boring but I intend to grow variegated ivy and climbing hydrangea up them. I'm sure there are many more plants we can use too. Hopefully, the demolition will cost less as we will have used most of the house, and the ground which will be dug out will spread on top so I can grow plants. I'm wondering how to build a bank on top of the edge to give extra soil to grow bigger plants to stop people falling off. I have left trough of a few bricks out near the edge of the gabion and replaced with soil near the edge to give more room for the roots to grow into. I would love to hear other suggestions - mine is still work in progress. It has been a huge amount of work so far, but something we can do ourselves.

30/08/2013 at 19:13

On price:

Quite expensive, apparently. What I *think* is the way to use them is to dig the bank back, level the base below the bottom level, put in a line of them and fill them up, fill behind them to level, put the next row on top, set slightly back, fill those, fill behind them to level et cetera until you reach the lawn level. It's probably a good idea to tie them down so the soil can't push them over each other with the passage of time and topple the lot, unlikely though that sounds.

Tree roots may well make this more difficult, as they tend to be thick, tough and near the surface, but the further from the nearest tree you start, the less harm you'll do the tree by just cutting through them and ripping them out.

I'd suggest building up high enough to level the lawn, so it can't flow over the top of them. This will leave you with a "dead" part across the bottom. Thinking of it as a path may be easiest.

To put a wall on it, you could probably just concrete the base onto the filled gabion. To put up a fence, I'd actually cut holes in the top mesh of the gabions and put the posts into them, pouring concrete in around the post bases, or put those ground spike things in through holes in the mesh, concrete those in and then stand fence posts in them (so you can pull out rotten fence posts years from now and put in fresh ones very easily).

I'm sure a wall of filled gabions would be a quite effective noise blocker, but that's a very thick wall and rather expensive. It would probably be cheaper to build it out of breezeblocks or bricks. You could also try a wooden fence with wide slats on both sides and narrow gaps between the slats on alternating sides, so wind can leak through but there are no lines of sight. It won't be as effective, but it looks less ... well, concrete.

Just my opinion, not a professional assessment, but you can probably build just about anything on top of them if it doesn't require a crane. An image search seems to confirm this.

Not sure about the plants. At a guess, anything that likes "well-drained soil", if you cover the things in gravel and then soil, should cope. You may find yourself having to top up with compost, sand and/or topsoil as it leaks down through the stones, though. There's probably a rule about soil depth relative to final height.

The washing ... umm ... well, shorten the hedges on the south side? Shorten the hedges all around to improve ventilation? Engineer's approach: build your retaining wall down both sides of the garden, finishing with a 1m gabion-top path well above ground level, mount pulleys on the outer wall on top of this, string the line around them and hang your laundry higher off the ground! Of course, this requires one person to attach clothes at each pulley so you can use both sides of the line at once. It wouldn't have to be a military fortified wall, really. You could just have a little Disney Princess-style tower at each side and string the laundry between them.

11/09/2013 at 17:59

Lots to think about, not least the fairy princess tower approach to washing - somewhat lacking in the long golden locks department though! Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed and in depth answer. Procrastination should be my middle name!

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