Intro: Cheap DIY Gabion Baskets
Gabion from Italian gabbione meaning "big cage" is just that. Generally you see these used in road side cuttings and more and more as landscape elements. These cages are not for everyone or everywhere. Making the cages is fiddly and best in Drier climates. I live in Boulder CO and after a major remodeling i ended up with a whole lot of rock. I looked into commercial gabion providers... (there are a few out there) and i couldn't swallow the $20-$30 a square foot price. I settled on standard 12 guage concrete reinforcement mesh you can buy in a 150' roll at Home Depot for $100 and winged the rest.
What you need
Concrete reinforcement mesh 150' roll
Lots of rocks
Step 1: Preparing the Cages
You can basically make anything as long as it's square and based on a 6" x 6" pattern. I settled for a standard block being 2' x 2.5' x 5'. The roll is 5 foot wide. I cut out all of the shapes including the top not shown in these photos. Next is a bit of a painful job.... Flattening out the reo. I make particular to cut the sides right down to the joint so as not leave sharp edges poking out. This is why i use pliers rather than heavier cutters as the cut is close and clean.
The one i'm doing in this instance is stepped so i just cut it down to size ready to install.
Step 2: Wiring Up the Sides
Wiring up the sides is fairly self explanatory... I use a 4-5" piece of tie-wire for all the 1-1 joints. Where there are 3 joints meeting (like on the corners) i use a 5-6" piece. I wire all the sides together individually leaving the top corners where the top will join untied. Best to do the corners all together. I have found that including a middle break in the basket helps it keep it's shape when full of rocks. I also include another wire stabilizer in each of the sections. You'll see it in the filling stage.
Step 3: Preparing the Site
The best thing about these baskets it the permanent impermanence of them. They really are just big wire baskets of rock easily turned back into a pile of rocks and some mesh. Because of the nature of the structure the cages will bend and move if the earth does so you don't have to run plumb bobs or any serious site prep. Make sure they are basically level as they look much better that way. I wire each successive basket together to keep them level and closely meshed.
Step 4: Filling the Baskets With Rocks
Filling the baskets is a bit nerdy and can take a while. I find that you want to use the bigger rocks on the outer edges. I start filling all the way around the edge and then back fill the middle with smaller rocks. This makes the walls really solid and less prone to getting misshaped by the weight.
You can see the inner chamber wire supports i thread through in the first two photo's here.
I fill the front (Joined to another basket) edge first and then try to have the next basket ready as i'm filling up the back building it's front connection together for best results.
I have 400 sq feet of rocks currently in these baskets around my front and back yard and living in a low humidity non coastal environment i imagine these will be here long after i'm gone.
So far it's only cost me $200 and my time... Oh and a few cuts and scratches.
I'll post the photos of the cage i built today being filled so you can see how i match the ends together.