How to Build Gabion Retaining Walls

A gabion retaining wall.
What You'll Need
Heavy steel wire
Wire cutters
Rock and masonry

Gabion retaining walls are wire structures similar in fashion to large baskets. These wire meshes are filled with rock and masonry to form large blocks. These make ideal retaining walls or linings for channels. They also have the advantage of being highly rugged and cheap to design and build. They are ideal in large areas that need buttressing. Gabion walls can be any size but they are particularly useful for homeowners to help prevent the erosion of slopes and lining culverts. Though installing gabion retaining walls is time-consuming and labor-intensive, there is nothing particularly complicated about it.

Step 1 - Take Measurements

Establish the area where you are going to build the wall. Measure this, taking into account the width and height of the wall. Gabion wall design software can also help you to accomplish this task. It will give you a better idea of the number of materials you need and can also help you to get better, more accurate results.

Step 2 - Purchase Materials

Buy the number of gabion baskets that you need for the job. They come in many different sizes and styles. You can construct them yourself, but this is far more time-consuming and an extremely laborious task. To make your own, you can use chicken wire to create a mesh basket filled with rocks. It is far easier, however, to purchase the gabion baskets already made. Make sure that you have the right quantity and get an extra 5 percent to be certain.

Step 3 - Prepare the Area

Ensure that the area where you are going to install the first row of gabion baskets is adequately prepared. It should be smooth and level. For smaller projects, you can prepare the area using a shovel and a rake though for larger areas, you may want to hire some more suitable tools.

Step 4 - Place the First Row of Gabions

The base of the wall will be the first row that you install. Tie each of the gabion baskets together using steel wire and wrap the wire edges of each basket together for additional stability. To cut the wire, use heavy duty wire cutters and pliers to wrap the wire around others.

Step 5 - Fill the Gabions

Fill the baskets with rock. Ideally, it is best to use rocks purchased specifically for the job. You can also use any other rocks that are available on your land. Less expensive types of rocks are fine if the purpose of the wall is purely functional. The rocks that you choose should be slightly larger on average than the wire meshes of the gabion baskets.

Step 6 - Stack Subsequent Rows

Fill the area behind the baskets with rock and soil. Stack new rows of gabion baskets as required. Match the contour of the slope when you’re doing this and tie each row together using the wire. Before proceeding to the next section, fill the previous one with rocks.