13 Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Gabions | How to Build a Gabion | Uses of Gabions

13 Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Gabions | How to Build a Gabion | Uses of Gabions

What are gabions? |Advantages and Disadvantages of Gabions | How to Build a Gabion | Uses of Gabions

What are gabions?

Gabions are large cages made of steel and wire mesh. These cages can be filled with any load-carrying material such as stones, sand, and boulders in order to give stability to a slope.

These can be used to shore up a soft bank, create a rock or earth dam, or act as an abutment to a structure like a bridge.

Gabions are structures that can be used to control water, stabilize slopes, and other uses in the construction industry.

Those who are interested in using gabion structures will usually purchase them already made, while those who want to make them themselves can make them from scrap metal and wire mesh.

History of Gabions

Gabions originally perfected and patented by Gaetano Maccaferri in the late nineteenth century in Sacerno, Emilia Romagna, and were used to protect shorelines, stream banks, or slopes against erosion.

Retaining walls, noise barriers, temporary flood walls, silt filtering from runoff, tiny or temporary/permanent dams, river training, or channel lining are some other applications.

They could be used to redirect the pressure of a flood’s flow around a susceptible structure.

Many years ago, early gabion-style constructions protected the Nile’s bank. Gabions were utilized as military forts during the Middle Ages.

In the past, civil engineers utilized gabions widely for the stabilization of banks, beaches, roadways, and slope erosion management.

Gabion walls have been beneficial to the landscape since their creation on the banks of the Nile. It has been utilized as a gravity type retaining structure for thousands of years and produces an attractive, efficient, and low-cost wall system.

Gabions are often used to screen fish in tiny streams. Gabion stepped weirs are extensively used for river training and flood control; the stepped design increases the rate of energy dissipation in the channel, which is especially well suited to the building of gabion stepped weirs.

A gabion wall is a type of retaining wall composed of stacked stone-filled gabions connected by wire. Rather than being built vertically, gabion walls are typically battered (angled back towards the slope) or stepped back with the slope.

Gabions have also been used in construction, such as the Dominus Winery in Napa Valley, California, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and built between 1995 and 1997.

The outside is built by modular wire mesh gabions incorporating locally mined stone; this structure permits air passage through the building and offers a temperature-controlled atmosphere inside.

Gabion use inside streams began in the United States with projects completed between 1957 and 1965 on the North River in Virginia and the Zealand River in New Hampshire.

 How Do Gabions Work

Gabions function by deflecting the force of water, rather than simply resisting it, which is what makes them the most effective and reliable form of dam.

Gabions are a type of barrier that is built using rough masonry, sometimes with reinforcing iron rods. They primarily use the materials of the wall to which they are attached. For example, stone blocks are used to construct the wall. Some may have a terminating wall or capstone.

The most common gabion is made up of wire mesh (or concrete) filled with stones, gravel, or sand. Other gabions are stone baskets filled with rocks.  Other types include retainer walls and temporary dams.

Gabions can be made using a variety of materials depending on the purpose for which they are used.

There are many different types of gabions including permanent, temporary and temporary with stone filler used for various purposes. These can vary greatly in price and construction materials used based on the type required for your project.

How to Build a Gabion

Gabions are built with the aid of a tower crane. First, the tower crane places the gabion units on top of each other, then wire mesh is inserted between them. The loads are placed onto wire mesh and a concrete mixture is poured over them.

The empty space inside the gabion is filled with rocks, sand or gravel, depending on what they are being used for and in what quantities.

Gabions are used for slope protection, which includes retaining walls, noise barriers, temporary flood walls, silt filtering from runoff, and tiny or temporary/permanent dams.

The construction of the gabion is much more involved than a typical retaining wall.

It is dependent on factors like climate, soil conditions, and site problems, all of which can make the construction vary from place to place.

Gabions are used in flood control projects. They are filled with sand or gravel and anchored to form a small dam.

Types of Gabions

There are three common types of gabions:

1)      Gabions with a mesh wire inserted between them. This is the most common form of gabion and requires no special installation.

2)   Gabions with stones, such as gravel, sand, or crushed stone that are packed into a large basket and glued together in a designated pattern. This method is widely used in flood control projects to create temporary dams.

3)      Gabions filled with concrete or stone material and then set on the ground without any connecting wire mesh as a talus slope protection layer.

Benefits of Gabion Walls

1. They are cost-effective.

2. When properly installed, gabion walls will last for a long time.

3. They are appropriate in areas that are subject to erosion.

4. They can be constructed in complex shapes due to their modular construction system.

5. They are perfect for areas with severe weathering.

6. They can be designed to ease the impact of floods and flash floods.

7. They also provide a habitat for aquatic life by creating pools in steep slopes close to rivers.

8. They are environmentally friendly because they do not contain harmful chemicals such as plastic or concrete.

9. Gabions help restore natural landscapes, because their design and appearance is incorporated into the landscape giving them a natural look that blends with the surroundings and does not damage it in any way.


Advantages of Gabions

1. Gabions are easy to install:

Gabions come in modular sizes which make them easy to install and do not need a lot of manpower.  Gabion barrier building materials are simple to transport to the worksite, unload, and install.

The rock fill is available in a variety of sizes and colors to match the volume and style of each wall, allowing them to be tailored to each application.

Gabions can be used to follow a grade along a wall, build stream bed banks, and strengthen dunes in coastal locations.

Gabion wall tops can taper to match changes in landscape elevation. The pace of construction remains rapid.

2.  Gabions are inexpensive to install:

Whilst initial installation costs are much higher for gabion walls than for conventional walls, ongoing maintenance costs are considerably lower.

Gabions require minimal construction work such as cutting and installing wire mesh and installing the fill.

 There is no need for any pre-wiring or concrete pours in order to set up a gabion wall; a simple crane can be used to install the mesh into the existing ground and fill it with rocks, sand, or other materials.

3. Gabions are effective in controlling erosion:

Gabion walls provide quick shoreline stabilization. Also, they are used for temporary sediment control in construction zones.

4.  Gabions are good for streambank protection:

Gabion walls can be used to retain soil along stream banks and can also be used as a way to reduce the sedimentation from the soil being washed away by runoff.

 They can be used for drainage or water erosion control, such as in construction work or for protecting embankments from erosion during torrential rainstorms.

5. Compatibility with the environment

Gabions can be used in combination with plants to form a green wall, and they are also compatible with root systems.

6. Water permeability

Gabions have water-permeability, which means that rainwater can drain through the material. This is useful for flood control in areas that have high rainfall rates.

7. Durability

Gabions are resistant to strong winds and earthquakes: Without any important damage, gabions can last for several decades.

8. Aesthetic

The most important benefit of Gabion is that it is a very aesthetically appealing wall. Its modular design allows for a variety of configurations and shapes which makes the gabion wall a popular choice for landscape architects.

9. Cost-effective

As compared to other types of retaining walls, Gabions are more cost-effective, especially when used in conjunction with other methods such as planting and reforestation to make up for uncompetitive land costs.

Disadvantages of Gabions

1.  Gabions require regular maintenance:

Gabion walls require regular maintenance to ensure that they are performing properly.

 Some of the requirements for maintenance include filling them up regularly with fresh stones and periodic inspections of existing structures.

2. High initial cost

The initial cost of the Gabion wall is relatively higher, compared to other forms of retaining walls.

 A single gabion wall, however, can be used stand as a foundation for several other structures and this helps reduce the initial cost considerably.

3. Potential for conflict between property owners and the natural environment:

The design of a gabion wall can conflict with property owners because it may not be aesthetically pleasing to them.

 However, if the gabion wall is installed correctly and follows certain guidelines such as setting it at a right angle to the property line by consulting with a landscape architect, this problem can be avoided.

Furthermore, gabion walls are designed in a way that lets them blend with the environment.

4.  Susceptibility to flooding and high winds:

Gabions are susceptible to high winds because they have no reinforcements on them.  Furthermore, floods tend to cause accelerated erosion along the gabion wall.

5.  Environmental impact:

Depending on their design and construction materials used in their construction, gabions may have a negative impact on the environment by releasing harmful chemicals into I

Applications & Uses of Gabions

1. Gabion Wall Cladding

The most common use for gabion walls in architecture is currently as a cladding system. This natural aesthetic is obviously appealing to architects.

 Stone is the predominant material used in the construction with gabion stone in cages grounded at the base to reflect the rough stone of an existing retaining wall

2. Gabion Retaining Wall

Gabions are a common method of retaining soil in earth banks and slopes. This is generally referred to as an erosion control wall or gabion wall.

In terms of cost, gabion walls will compete with the majority of other available solutions. Expect to pay between $9 and $15 per square foot. However, if you have access to free or low-cost stones, you can lower this cost. The industry standard, according to Gabion Baskets, is 3-foot increments.

3. Streambank Protection

Streambank protection walls are commonly built using gabions.

In the case of an overflow, water flows through the spaces between the gabion mesh and rock and allows for the dissipation of energy downstream without harming anything in its path.

This is an effective means of reducing sedimentation from runoff in areas where this was previously a problem.

4. Seeding

Gabions can be used as a means to seed the soil of an area. This can be used to prevent erosion and maintain soil fertility in areas where adequate water is not available otherwise.

Seed soil should, however, be made up of uncontaminated materials such as are sterilized by thorough composting.

5. Temporary Wastewater Treatment

Gabions can also be used as a temporary wastewater treatment system, allowing for the removal of high levels of silt and mud from streams before they enter clean water bodies.

6. Soil Erosion Control

Gabions can be used in combination with plants to form a green wall. They are also compatible with root systems.

7. Temporary Flood Protection

Gabions are good for streambank protection: Gabion walls can be used to retain soil along stream banks and can also be used as a way to reduce the sedimentation from the soil being washed away by runoff.

They can be used for drainage or water erosion control, such as in construction work or for protecting embankments from erosion during torrential rainstorms.

8. Aesthetic

The most important benefit of Gabion is that it is a very aesthetically appealing wall. Its modular design allows for a variety of configurations and shapes which makes the gabion wall a popular choice for landscape architects.

 Gabions FAQs

1. What is a gabion?

A gabion is a type of retaining wall made up of interlocking, cylindrical steel or concrete blocks attached together and secured with wire mesh.

The shape of the faces of the blocks are used to create a stream or canyon effect in the landscape.

2.  Gabions are effective in controlling erosion?

A gabion wall provides quick shoreline stabilization by holding back sand and soil. In addition, it can be used for temporary sediment control in construction zones.

The gabion wall can be used for drainage or water erosion control, such as in construction work or for protecting embankments from erosion during torrential rainstorms.

3. Why are gabions commonly made of steel and concrete?

Steel blocks are strong and durable and it is easier to move them than rocks in the natural landscape.

Concrete blocks are strong, but they do not stand the test of time as well as steel blocks. In addition, they add weight to the structure.

4. What exactly is a gabion and how does it function?

Gabion is a welded wire cage or box filled with stone, concrete, sand, or dirt. So, gabion is a somewhat flexible block construction used in building for slope stability and erosion protection.

Gabions of various types are built and employed in various engineering constructions.

5. How does a gabion work?

Gabions act like a dam that holds back water and builds up sand in front of it. In addition, the wire used for the cage is suspended inside the gabion so that it does not collect water and break off.

6. How many gabions are needed to create a wall?

It depends on how deep you want to dig your slope stabilizing system. In general, you need around six gabions per meter of wall.

 If you want to dig only shallow trenches, you can use a single gabion for every few feet.

7.  How do I order gabions?

You can order steel wire and concrete blocks by contacting a local supplier. You can also look for an existing company that uses gabions in their infrastructure projects and purchases the material directly from them.

8. What are the benefits of gabions?

Gabions are cost-effective and they have a long lifespan. Furthermore, they are easy to maintain and can be used in a variety of ways. 

9. What is the disadvantage of gabion walls?

The only real disadvantage is that the initial cost of  material used to construct it can be expensive and heavy, difficult to move, which increases transportation costs.

 The weight of the materials also restricts their flexibility in certain situations such as when a wall must bend around sharp corners.

10. How long do gabions last?

The longevity of gabions is determined by the lifespan of the wire, not by the contents of the basket. When the wire fails, the structure will collapse.

The most common wire is galvanized steel wire, but PVC-coated and stainless-steel wire are also used. PVC-coated galvanized gabions are expected to last 40-60 years.

Some gabion manufacturers guarantee structural constancy for a period of 50 years.

11. Do gabion walls need foundations?

Walls built with gabions need no foundations. However, if the wall is built on any sort of foundation, the structure will be able to stand on its own.

A concrete foundation is not required for gabion constructions, such as walls or fences. They do, however, require some work beneath the surface. Otherwise, because they are so hefty, they might easily collapse over.

The material is chosen for the wall, whether it is used to retain or fence, the state of the site subsoil, and other considerations all influence how the foundation is built.

Before replacing the soft, peaty topsoil with a tougher base course, the soft, peaty topsoil and some of the subsoil must be removed.

12. How do I install gabion retaining walls?

You can install the gabions within a few days with the use of wheelbarrows and some basic equipment such as hand tools that are easily available in many hardware or home improvement stores.

13. Are gabions load-bearing?

Gabion walls are popular, however, because of their strength and permeability, they are mostly employed as retaining walls.

There is limited information available about the usage of gabions as load-bearing walls for buildings.

 14. What’s involved in installing gabions?

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Finding a location for the project where you can dig large enough trenches to fit gabions.

Step 2: Determining how many gabions you need and what size wire basket they should be made of.

Step 3: Selecting a wire size.

Step 4: Sourcing the blocks or baskets and a wire mesh.

Step 5: Installation process.

15. What materials are used in gabions?

Gabion walls usually use stone, concrete, cement, or earth. Gabions can also be made from other materials such as wood and plastic.

16. How heavy are the walls?

They have varying weights depending on their intended purpose and construction methods in use will vary as well. Generally, the block or basket weights between 100 and 1,000 kg. However, most of them weigh between 150 and 250 kg.

17. How much does a gabion cost?

It depends on the materials used for construction and the size of the project.

The majority of Gabion walls cost between $9 and $15 per square foot. In fact, you should expect to pay roughly $38 for a cubic meter (3.3 feet).

However, the sort of stones or pebbles used inside your mesh is largely determined by the cost of the stone — the more precious the stone, the more expensive the wall.

Gabion constructions are more expensive than other retaining wall solutions, but their distinct appearance and ease of usage make them a favorite choice among gardeners and landscape designers.

18. Are gabion walls strong?

They are extremely strong. Their main purpose is to hold soil in place but they can also be used to help with the prevention or control of erosion from a slope.

19. Will gabion baskets rust?

Yes, but galvanized steel wire doesn’t rust easily and lasts up to 30 years. You can also use PVC-coated wire that has a lifespan of 40 years.

20. What are the benefits of gabion walls?

Gabion walls are great at retaining soil. Although slightly expensive, they last for decades and feature attractive designs. They can also withstand quite a lot of pressure thanks to the support from the wire mesh within its baskets. 

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