Gabion wall is more expensive than retaining wall

Gabions: advantages and disadvantages of stone baskets

There seems to be only one prevalent opinion in Germany about gabions: The stone baskets are ugly and have no place in the house or in the garden. At least that is what most of the comments on the "gravel cages" are. But does such a stone basket only have disadvantages - or are there also advantages?

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Because not everyone has made up their minds yet: Gabions are wire baskets that can be filled with different materials, usually stones. Originally, these stone baskets were mainly used in road construction to fortify embankments or to protect residents from traffic noise. Gabion walls have only been seen more frequently around private houses or in gardens for a few years.

Of course, gabions - the word comes from Italian, where "gabbione" is a "large cage" - must offer some advantages, otherwise the stone baskets would not be so popular. It is less about the aesthetic than the practical. Because their massive, puristic appearance is one of the biggest criticisms of gabions.

Disadvantages of gabions

One of the strangest aberrations of modern architecture

sz-magazin.de

1. Gabions are perceived as "lifeless and cold"

The appearance of a wall is always a matter of taste, but gabions often appear very clunky and massive. That doesn't fit in with the natural zeitgeist at all. "The gray of the gravel seems lifeless, cold, inhospitable, poor in food," writes Karla Krieger from the Society for the Promotion of Garden Culture - and is undoubtedly right. Anyone who opts for gabion walls as a boundary must therefore expect critical voices from the neighbors. Of course there are also nature-friendly gabions (see advantages) ...

2. Gabions can rust

Gabion walls are valued for their stability. However, this can quickly be over if the metal basket starts to rust. Stainless metal should therefore always be used. Tip: Also pay attention to the material of the filling. Iron-containing stones can remove the rust-proof coating from galvanized gabions.

3. Gabion walls can collapse

As simple and easy as the construction of a gabion wall may seem, it is often advisable to consult a structural engineer beforehand. Above all, the narrower and taller a gabion is to be built. Because such stone baskets need a solid, level foundation, ideally with drainage. In addition, care should be taken not to leave any larger cavities. Otherwise the gabion walls threaten to collapse - a danger for humans and animals.

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4. Complex repairs

If a gabion should actually become unstable, for example because stones in the lower area are wrong, the correction is very time-consuming. After all, in the rarest of cases you can simply open and rearrange the stone basket. If the metal construction is warped, the only thing that really helps is a complete replacement.

5. Building permit for gabion fences

First of all: Gabion fences under 1.80 meters in height do not normally require a building permit. However, there are differences in the building regulations depending on the federal state - and sometimes depending on the municipality. Some municipalities are critical of the trend towards the "stone cage" and restrict their use through development plans or statutes. Our tip: ask your competent authority directly.

Advantages of gabions

We are very popular. It buzzes like a pig.

Axel Friedhoff, managing director of Rothfuss Best Gabion

1. Quick and easy assembly

Gabions are relatively quick and easy to erect if you plan their construction and filling properly. Create a level base, assemble the wire baskets, put stones in it (do not pour!) - done. No special machines are necessary, but standard tools can usually be used.

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2. Gabions do not have to grow first

Compared to hedges, which only offer adequate privacy protection after a few years, a gabion wall immediately shows its advantages. And should you have planned too small: No problem, gabions can be expanded both in height and in width.

3. Gabions provide protection

The stone baskets are a massive barrier and therefore offer strong protection from noise or annoying looks. Gabions can also be used to secure embankments and slopes on houses on a hillside.

4. Gabions are versatile

Fence, bench, raised bed, fireplace or normal wall: Gabions are not only very versatile in their function, but the filling can also be chosen creatively. It doesn't have to be turquoise or forest green glass stones (yes, you can actually buy them) or granite stones from Asia. Tip: Ask a local quarry whether they can supply you with a good and cheap filling for gabions.

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5. Gabions are durable

Thanks to their natural materials, gabions are weather-resistant to wind, snow, rain and frost: The durability of the stone baskets is estimated at 30 to 50 years, depending on the material, use and external conditions. It is crucial whether the metal rusts or not. Caution: salt water (for example from road salt) clogs the bars.

6. Gabions can be ecologically valuable

Gabions per se initially appear hostile to life. But the stone baskets can be ecologically valuable. Wall lizards love stone walls that are not jointed - and under certain circumstances like to settle in gabions. A rough filling with natural stone also attracts toads, blindworms, wild bees and spiders. This sometimes creates small ecological niches.

Gabions are also very popular as edging for raised beds. And gabion wall grids provide wonderful support for climbing plants.

Tip: Do you already know our video tutorial "Building a raised bed from pallets"?