Retaining Walls, like the gabion wall, are civil engineering marvels that control and retain loads from structures and soil on one side and allow the space on their other side to be used for multiple reasons.
In simple terms, it allows to maintain a difference of elevation on either side of the retaining wall. Retaining walls are usually used in heavy infrastructures – such as highways; however, there are multiple usages of small-scale retaining walls in commercial landscaping.
The best types of retaining walls are already covered in the article ‘3 best types of retaining walls’ where best types of retaining walls are suggested based on their ease of construction and efficiency in the realm of commercial landscaping.
Gabion Retaining Wall is simply a combination of a Gabion – a basket, cage – and a retaining wall. It would not be wrong to say that it is a type of Gravity Retaining wall that uses a ‘filled’ gabion with rocks and other earthen materials – sometimes even concrete.
The filling provides the gabion a mass that retains the loads and prevent erosion. Not only gabion walls are used for large-scale structures carrying loads in tons but also smaller structures that are typically used in commercial landscaping. The Gabion retaining wall can be a part of your landscape and can replace your boring retaining wall with an artistic one. The aesthetic can be of your desired colour and texture – depends on the filling material you choose.
When constructing a retaining wall, one should always consider consulting a Civil/ Structural engineer for retaining walls are designed to resist multiple actions that are caused due to the lateral loads including sliding, overturning and settling of the retaining wall. Commercial landscaping companies can come handy for they have hands-on experience with constructing similar structures and have the team ready to design such retaining walls with precision.
Gabion Retaining wall is no different. It resists the actions due to loads the same way a huge gravity retaining wall would. However, when talking of commercial landscaping, the loads are usually limited and therefore a DIY guide is coming next for people who would want to set an adventure in their backyard.
How to construct a Gabion Retaining Wall
Gabion Retaining wall is easy to construct for it does not require much technical attention apart from designing in its initial stages. Even un-skilled labour or you yourself with your adventurous friends can construct one.
- Design of Retaining wall – can be omitted if laws in your country allow you, for personal properties such as backyards. The design does not necessarily mean the architectural look of it – but the size of the wall, which would be enough to resist the loads.
- Buying the Gabion: The Gabion can be bought from multiple commercial landing websites and companies. There are difference grades of steel that can be used for the mesh but it is always nice to use galvanized ones to resist weathering action.
- Collecting/ buying the filling material: The filling material can be bought or garnered from the nearby area. The filling material can either be timber logs, stones, concrete rubble etc. However, it is always nice to use angular stones for their interlocking property that creates an immovable mass possible due to the friction in between particles.
- Placing the gabion
- Filling the gabion – proper care should be taken in order to compact the stones. The higher the compaction is, the heavier the gabion wall would be. The heavier the retaining wall, the safer it would be – if the ground conditions are suitable for it.
- Geo-Textile fibre should be used on the loading side/ backside of the retaining wall as a filter to allow only water drain out from the gabion retaining wall while preventing the soil erosion.
Additional: Some lateral ties can be used to hold the gabion sides that might bulge – depending on the grade of the steel – after filling rocks/ filling material. The lateral ties can be provided after every feet of filling.
Advantages of Gabion Retaining Wall
Now that we all know how to make a Gabion Retaining wall, let us try to understand why make one. What makes this retaining wall better than others?
- Sustainability: Other retaining walls tend to use Cement in order to produce concrete to be used for the construction. The cement produces around 1 tonne of carbon dioxide for 1 tonne of cement production. Carbon Dioxide being the most popular greenhouse gas causes global warming.
- Cost: Gabion walls are cheaper to construct for the filling material can be bought at a cheaper rate or can easily be available in nearby areas. Additionally, unskilled labours can also construct this reducing the cost to hire skilled labours.
- Ease of Construction: The construction is easier and faster when compared to conventional retaining walls.
- Aesthetic: Gabion retaining wall, for how artistic it is, always gives a better aesthetic value to your property as compared to conventional retaining walls.
- Long Lasting: A good Gabion retaining wall can last for 50 to 100 years.
Landscape Design for flood prone areas
A gabion wall, like permeable concrete, can help to protect against erosion and flooding. The ancient Egyptians were using gabions, woven from reeds, and filled with rocks to control the Nile. For flood control the gabion wall can reduce the energy in the flood water. When combined with geotextiles, the wall can be effective in flood prevention and erosion reduction.
A Gabion retaining wall is a sustainable, cheaper yet aesthetically pleasing alternative to the conventional retaining walls. Additionally, it can be easily made as Do It Yourself (DIY) project with your friends and family members.