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Large gabion retaining wall

Home Improvement Guru
Home Improvement Guru


A large gabion wall made with recycled mesh and rock.




The project


I had bought secondhand 50mm by 50mm galvanised mesh and had these stockpiled for this project of building a gabion wall. I think the mesh is 4mm thick.




Working out how many baskets I could make from the mesh I had.




I used a grinder to chop up the sections.




I would then stitch the sections together using 3mm fencing wire.




The tight spirals I made of the fencing wire (using a broom handle) I would stretch out by attaching one end to a solid post and just walking backwards.




The first basket being put together.




This is how I would spiral wrap the wire. I just kept winding until the broom was full. It was hard work.




I figured if I chopped up the longer lengths I was going to spiral wrap, it would be a lot easier. I did drill a hole through the middle of the broomstick to slot the wire in and then turn the broomstick by hand. It made it much easier.




The old Besser block retaining wall that I had to take out the centre section when the sewage was redone. There is no base to it and the blocks were apparently laid on the dirt. This is a part of the wall that had to go.




No structural strength at all. I levered it with the crowbar and one hand.




I backfilled the low points and tamped the ground. I should have used a dirt compacter right where the tamp is as I had put in stormwater pipes about 800mm below ground.




All prepped and ready to lay out the cages.




Lining the cages up. Three all lined up for this stage.




Hmm. Never thought of how to get them lined up exactly. The spirals and the wave-type twist that the mesh has make it hard.




I used some old upholstery material to stop dirt fines from entering the cage. I have used it before and it lasts and seems to work well.




I lay the stones out evenly and also make sure there are no obvious bulges in the walls. I also make sure I "face" the viewable sides with nicer stones. This time I was after an industrial look and feel, so I used broken-up concrete pathway.




I had a lot of soapstone that I used in the wall.




Just showing the way the spirals work to connect the sides of the cage together.




This is the waste rock/brickwork placed at the rear of the cage. I stacked all the rocks and didn't just pour them in as I didn't want movement later on.




The only issue I found while doing a "wall" with more than one segment was lining them up together. I have since worked out that if you put two cages together and remove one spiral from where they butt up to one another and use the other to go between the right and left plus the centre panel then the cages line up perfectly. 




The spirals showing the new size and approximate width of them.




Trying to tie the lids to the sides. The rear was already joined when I put the cage together (like a lid hinge). This is the hard way.




Joining lids to sides. This is the easy way. I bought a cheap set of ratchet straps from Bunnings and used them to tighten the sides inwards. Worked like a dream.




The tools I used were, multigrip pliers, long-nose pliers (these were great) and a pound hammer to tap the rocks when they didn't want to move.




The general rule I follow with gabion walls is: if the wall is 400mm wide, then 800mm high should be the maximum height. Road base would maybe have made the wall more solid but I figure the sheer weight of the cages work in their favour. Any settling will happen as the cages are filled. I did tamp the ground but what isn't seen is that I mostly shaved the ground to create a level surface. That kept the ground compact and intact. 


The section of the wall in the middle (where you can see a smaller cage at the very front) is actually the only area that I was concerned with as I had dug a deep trench through for stormwater. By all rights I should have filled and tamped every foot or so but I was stuffed after backfilling it all, so I was happy to just get the pipe buried.


Making a Splash

Hi @Dave-1


This looks great & has inspired me. The back of my property is fill & just falls to ground level. I've been thinking about a timber/concrete sleeper retaining wall so I can reduce the fall & better support hedging. This looks like a more manageable DIY solution for me, altho barrowing rocks 30m from the front to the rear to fill the gabions isn't inspiring :wink: I don't have any waste rocks so I'll have to get something from a landscape yard, maybe river rocks. The rear boundary also slopes down a hill, falling maybe 0.5m so I could either dig it out to level or maybe make the gabions a different height.


Cheers, Peter

Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @pete_brig 

The best thing about gabions is that they arnt going anywhere :smile: Carrying rocks up 30m is a pain lol But small batches into a cage everytime you make a trip may be managable. I ended up buying a Gorilla 4 wheel trolley to lug the stones around and man thats a little trolley that can! 


I have around a 30m run up the hill and across the back and down to where the next cage I am building (almost ready to start that project) so feeling your pain :smile: River rocks would look good, or go the path of hitting up someone removing concrete for that industrial look (lizards love the walls)


Id always dig out to make level as I found my ability to compact the base for the gabions lacks a little solidness :smile: But I do like your idea of a staggered wall. 


Always around for questions.



Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @pete_brig 

In response to the question "Can you explain how you made the "windings" that you used to link the gabions together please? My back boundary is about 20m so will need to join a few Dave1_0-1703042933119.png   I'm going to head down there now to see how it would work."


I found that when joing a run of cages together the easiest way tomake the look level and be level was to remove one end of the baskets that are being joined together. So rectanglar box + rectangular box = two joined together but the jointed part would have two lots of mesh, by removing one of these and then spiriling downwards the three points you get a smooth transition between the cages.

01 20-12-2023.jpg

This is how I did the cages, Trying to get them to line up was pretty hard. You can see the part in the pink spiral as having two lots of everything.

02 20-12-2023.jpg

The spirals in green are now only a single instance. The horizontal spirals would only be joining three pieces of mesh, both tops/lids and the middle piece so the spiral would only wrap around three. The front facing and rear facing would only be joining 3 sections as well. Side, side and middle. Doing it this way I found afterwards made for a straight line for the eye to travel.


In my Gabion wall windbreak  step 3 at the bottom you will see the single spiral method I used for the top row of cages (I hadnt worked the out the easier way to join them at that point lol) I still kept the two facing ends of the touching baskets in place in this instance.


If you want more info on the actual spirals and how I make them just let me know.



Making a Splash

Hi @Dave-1 


Apologies for being slow to reply... thanks for the info re. making the spirals & making the gabions level when joining. As I said, I was inspired by your original post...however, sanity/reality check set in & I realised I need to sort out my front boardwalk first (need to replace bearers & re-stain decking boards) before I embark on a new project. That said, the idea of gabions is sitting in the back of my mind for when I get to it...maybe when the weather is a little cooler 😁


Cheers, Peter

Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @pete_brig 

hahahahah I know that feeling too well. I have  a Gabion Wall I want to build, a resonable large one with steps even, so what am I doing... Oh yeah I am doing maintenance on my deck and installing a bench plus making a bench style lounge/seat from scratch... :smile: Other jobs keep coming up, best thing about gabions.... They arnt going anywhere fast :laugh: 


Job for the new year sometime or even the next! :laugh:



Building a Reputation

Hello Dave - 1, I have just been looking at your photos of the various stages of your construction of your gabion baskets and was wondering if you have difficulty joining the sheet on the top to your side walls because of spreading?

Have you considered making a slotted metal spreader bar with the centre of the slots exactly equal to the depth of your wall? i.e. If your wall is 500mm deep, then drill 2 holes 500mm between centres and then slot them so that they hook onto the mesh on each wall of the basket so that it keeps the walls consistent. You place them say 300-400mm from the bottom and then you move them up as you fill the basket with your material and more importantly it helps keep it more consistent when you tie your brace wires across. 

If you have a look at my blog on the No cut hedge - gabion basket wall you will see a picture of my spreader bars. (Sorry I did not get any pictures of them in action as I was too busy building the wall).

Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @Xfarma21 

I really like your idea of the fixed metal spacing tool. It would certainly fix the consistant distance with the baskets. Will have to keep it in mind. I love your Hedge tho, I havnt managed to lay my hands on flat stones as yet but it really makes your No cut hedge - Gabion basket wall shine :smile: Envy is a word I would use to describe it :smile: 


I do use ties between the front and back of the baskets and this does limit bowing. I could up the quantity of the ties to lesson the little bit that happens but usually put that thought into the basket of more effort then needed. The lids generally match up with the sides, I do use ratchet straps to help me out and they work a dream to draw the edges closer so the spirls can go on easily. I figure that the tension then works in my favour to have it all locked together. The longest run of gabion baskets I have done is this project and the baskets havnt bulged or moved noticibly yet.



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