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Fascinated with gabions?  RSS feed

 
Jay Hall
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Location: Lake Havasu City, AZ
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As of late I have become obsessed  with gabions? Just kicking around some ideas for uses on a future build.

One is a mass rocket heater sofa? I think it could be done fairly quickly and inexpensively? Something similar to this http://store.redhen.pl/en/product/sofa-inside-corner-bench
  . Imagine a firebox/barrel on one end and exhaust stack on the other. It could be plastered in cob or left bare? Throw a pad on top and you are nice and comfy!

Another is a rubble trench foundation that instead of pouring a concrete beam footing or building a stone footing use gabions on top of the trench?

Also a kitchen island or bar with a gabion box as the base with a wooden or poured concrete top. I've actually seen several pictures of outdoor tables done this way.

Last would be a green house or hoop house. Gabion base with pipes installed to insert your hoops into. You could do a gabion mass heater inside as well for winter use?

So what do you all think? Are these ideas feasible ?  I'm just day dreaming and brain storming?
 
Devin Lavign
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Gabions seem like an expensive way to do things. Looking at the price of the sofa you linked, it was over a thousand dollars. Sure you could diy your own, but that is a lot of steel to make into a gabion and would still cost a lot to do, not to mention a lot of time to construct the wire cage.

Not trying to rain on your idea, just pointing out for most of us that sort of added cost lowers the practicality of the concept.

Cost aside, I like the concept. And it might be a way to market RMHs in the future to rich folks. As it would be an easy to install sort of system. As well as easy to prefab a bunch of set styles that customers to pick from.
 
Jay Hall
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Location: Lake Havasu City, AZ
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Devin I agree the sofa on that site is crazy expensive. From what I've read if you have access to stone the wire baskets are inexpensive and easy to build? I read of one guy who built two 4 foot high and 10 foot long retaining walls by himself in one weekend for $60 in mesh and wire? He had the stone on his property.

Maybe I'm  way off base? Thanks for the input!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've built a few gabions. At least for my budjet the netting wire is really pricey. The labor to collect the stone and fill the gabions was intense. I love them!!! I want to build more.

 
Christopher Steen
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Devin Lavign wrote:Gabions seem like an expensive way to do things.


Permies, a diy hangout where we can talk about doing things without quoting industry MSRP. We aren't the military, with a military budget, with those expensive hesco gabion baskets.

$20 cattle panels, from farm and ranch stores, 6 guage steel covered in class 1 galvy. 16' by 4'4". If you want clean bends hinge two pieces of scrap 2x4 or angle iron and fab yourself a (sheet metal style) brake. Add a bolt cutter and decent hog rings for the win. Aesthetic and overkill points for tack welding them (hey you said furniture). I brake bend those panels and lath for ferrocement all the time.
 
Ban Dinh
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Christopher Steen, I like the cattle panel idea but you'd need some sizable aggregate to be retained by that large mesh. The price is certainly right though and I have been trying to find an affordable alternative to the commercial baskets. The commercial prices are crazy IMO for what is really just heavy mesh. I'd welcome any affordable ideas. I need a fairly short retaining wall for the yard (maybe 1 meter high at most) and also several for an erosion control project for the creek that runs through my property.
 
Erik Krieg
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ive been interested in the idea of gabions for creating microclimates around some of my plantings.  i have found that used chain link fence off craigslist is the cheapest source of good strong galvanized wire base.
 
Bernhard Haussler
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[size=12]I intend to build an eartship using gabions instead of tyes. I will mortar finish the surfaces and maybe add a layer of brick inst=ide to help attaching things to the walls. I am on a water course and there is sand mining going on just a short way downstream. They have a mountain of screen "reject" available.
 
Christopher Steen
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If your rock is small cobble, there are many other panels or fences to look at ( horse panel or 2x4 woven horse fence being the most bomber small opening mesh, before going to a metal distributer). Or combine cattle panel with a mesh fence of your choice. Or, what I have done, lay your bigger rock carefully on the outside and toss in the smaller stuff to the inside.

I don't consider This pillar or column a gabion, not the right shape or method. Since this one never got finished, you can see up top that It is just 10 guage woven knot deer fence. Typically I filled the inside with smaller stuff that would have fallen out of the openings of this (leftover) deer fence. The small stuff backfills the larger outside stuff that can't fall out. But the one in this picture was the last column that I filled and I ran out of bigger stone. You can see how everything is locked behind a wire. Doesn't take much more time, and you would be hard pressed to pull many from out the side. They are locked in and very stout. I have a number of these. One has a couple barrels secretly stashed in the middle. This one is 3' diameter, 7' high when I finish to the top.

To the earthship cat: I'd line the inside with stucco netting, then you can dump front end loaders into your baskets. Then plaster. I guess an interior wall left as exposed gabion is fine, if you mind the aesthetic busying up the room, but I'd plaster those exterior walls. Vermin, bugs, something to deal with interior moisture, air sealing...

Chain link fence stretches too much due to the zig zag bends in the wire.

What a popular topic. I did bend panels into baskets on my homemade brake. It's very quick, easy, stout and cheap. I recommend making one to test for y'all's aggregate size, or you can stage fill it like i did, or line it, or determine if you should go up to a pricier smaller opening panel.
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John Macgregor
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I'm wanting to make a straight creek meander to slow it down. The most popular way seems to be with baffles (deflectors) made of thick pickets driven into the creek bed in the shape of a triangle. However that's about $150 per baffle, so I wondered if triangular-shaped gabions might not be cheaper. (Wire that lasted 5 years would be good enough - say chicken wire - as the creek should have built its own bank around the gabion by then.)

I have collected a few thousand rocks this year for smaller water-slowing/erosion-repairing projects, & it is indeed very hard work.
 
Alan Loy
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I've seen gabbions used to slow down water, they seem to work well. I've also seem bails of hay staked to the bottom to do the same thing (don't last as long) or sand/earth bags.

A personal wishful idea is to combine rocks and cobb in gabbions as a wall construction technique.  It could be different types of building rubble in place of rocks if they were more available.  This is a variation on a technique used in northern Pakistan an there abouts where they use basic timber framing with rocks and cobb to make walls.  These have proved to be very earthquake resistant. https://permies.com/t/47813/easy-stone-construction-Dhajji-Dewari. ; Withe mud render on the outside it would look good.

I've also wondered about rocks on the outside and earthbags on the inside to take up space.

maybe mix and match?

 
Travis Johnson
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I have done a ton of stone work and will say this from vast experience; it only looks daunting. It is absolutely staggering how much stone work has been done around my house with rock in a very short amount of time. Even some of the past projects I have done do not coincide with my needs now so they are ripped apart and I start again.

The most difficult is part is just starting, once you lay into a stone project they actually move along pretty nicely. I think the key is to find a method of moving rocks that is not so small it seems you spend more time traveling back and forth versus working on the project, and one so big you seem to spend all your time loading the thing up. For instance the bucket of my 25 hp farm tractor is kind of small...I don't make much forward progress per bucketful of rock, but my big trailer is much too big to load. A small trailer I have is a nice middle ground.

As for gabions; I don't care for them. I just don't like the look of steel, to me I would feel like I cheated if I used them. I say that because learning to lay up dry laid stone LOOKS more daunting then it is. You could easily dry lay that couch if you wanted too. This would reduce the cost of building it to almost zero if you don't include value for your time. Not that it would take long, maybe 3 days of construction? Then there is the permanent aspect of it. That steel though treated, will eventually rust and rot out. When that happens, the steel that retains its shape will be lost and along with the hard work. Rock is about as forever as you can get. Rock walls built in 1830 are still standing tall and straight on my farm, something steel shaped rock could never do. I see why people use gabions, but my goal here is not to knock them down, but rather to encourage others that dry laid stone is nothing to be intimidated of.
 
Green Galloway
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Gabions work and are simple, if not easy, to make from natural materials.
 
Norma Guy
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A friend turned me on to gabions a few weeks ago and it makes a ton of sense.  You can build some really amazing solid structures with them.  Planning to use some for the driveway.  Lots of work to do on it (old logging road), and a couple of creeks to deal with.  Going to have to put in culverts, but will surround them by gabions as a bridge, and will have to use some more pipes and gabions in other low-lying areas to keep everything together in the spring when it's mushy.  You can buy bulk wire fencing online, and if you split it with someone else for them to use some too you can get a cheaper price to buy more.  Might put some kind of concrete on the outside, don't know yet.  Lots of work but necessary or we can't get to the land with a vehicle!  First step is fix the road
 
John Macgregor
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Thanks Alan.

I've glad you've seen it work. I can't afford 4" pickets (they're about $5 each, & you ned 30 for every baffle) so given that I have a good supply of rocks, gabions sound worth a shot.

Travis's point below, about the steel eventually rusting out, is a good one. But in a creek baffle by the time that had happened the gabion would be buried in silt & sand - i.e. it would have got the creek to create a new bank.
 
Alan Loy
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John, another thought.  If you have earth moving capacity then creating swales and running the water, on contour, zig zaging across the property will reduce the velocity.

I'm sure there was a youtube video by geoff lawton describing this.  The nearest I could find was this 
  or this 

If you're from oz then the accent shouldn't worry you on this one 


This requires significant earth moving for both the swales and dams so may be out of the question.

I have noticed that parks Victoria are replacing fallen trees into creeks.  This reduces flow in peak times and also provides fish habitat.  Might be worth a thought.
 
Krofter Young
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With a plethora of recycled and naturally occurring resources it seems like there is little need to buy new stuff to build gabions.  Urbanite is a great resources for gabions, as are tree branches, stones, old bent T posts, pieces of tin etc.  All of my gardens were created by building large catchments with these resources.  http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Urbanite%21.html  ; -   https://vimeo.com/channels/erdakroftfarm ; (scroll down to Urbanite!)
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Alan Loy wrote:This requires significant earth moving for both the swales and dams so may be out of the question.


The first pond I built was by hand. It was astonishing to me what could be accomplished by 15 minutes worth of labor, day after day after day.

 
John Macgregor
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Thanls Krofter.

I can't make your link work. What's urbanite?

I've done it all by hand so far, but am always open to labour-saving.
 
Krofter Young
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John - Don't know why those links aren't working.  Try these -

http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Blogs/Blogs.html ; -  Click on Urbanite! at the top of the page.

https://vimeo.com/122486226 -  A short video about urbanite.
 
John Macgregor
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Thanks Krofter - now I know what urbanite is.

It would make a great creek baffle IMO, so I will see if anyone has any around here.

Thanks for the heads-up.
 
Danette Cross
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Make your own Gabion baskets for a fraction of the cost of commercial. You can make a Gabion cage 6'L x2'H x 2' deep with one $20 cattle panel and some hog rings. If you buy a 4'x2'x2' commercially (Gabion Baskets ) it will cost around $90!!! That's nuts!

My Gabion dream is fencing. 5 1/2 acres of it. I was quoted over $1200 to 3 rail fence about 150' because of my soil (um, rock) condition!  Replacing rotten wood posts with more wood posts just seems like a bad idea to me, so I have done some "digging". 

My ground is almost 80% rock.  I dug a small 2'W x 3'L x 1' deep plot to plant some raspberry bushes in and only had about a gallon of dirt sifted from it to throw back in the hole! I had to get soil from someplace else! So, I have been trying to figure out how I can afford to replace the rotten wood fencing on my 5 1/2 acres, not go broke AND not have to dig post holes in darn near solid rock.  I have decided that Gabion posts with cattle panels in between is the way to go for me. 

My plan: A cattle panel is 16' long x 4' high and goes for $20.  If you cut four 4' sections and round them into a Gabion (2' diameter), you can make a fence section 56' long for $100 (since I don't have to buy rock). That my friends is a bargain.  Also considering I won't have to dig 3' down to the frost line and lose 3' of post height to do it.  I will simply dig a footer about 2 or 3" deep, tamp down solid and level and set the Gabion in place.  "Just in case" I could pound a piece of rebar down the middle of the Gabion, if I can get it into the ground.  With the cut cattle panels I can push the spikes left from cutting the panel into sections and push those into the ground to anchor it. Then use hog rings to connect the full length cattle panel to the Gabion, and keep on rockin'.  Here is an image as close to my idea as I could find but they are using fence rails instead of cattle panels.

I have sheep and livestock guardians so want to go with cattle panels to keep my dogs in.  If I want the fence higher, then I can leave rebar sticking up through the middle of the Gabions and use wire or whatever to extend the height of the fence.

Someone mentioned the size of rock:  If your rocks are small, use cheap chicken wire to line the inside of your Gabion. The Cattle panel cage makes it much stronger, so I would NOT just use chicken wire for the cage. The smaller rock will settle into the cage and make it even more solid as time goes on. Gabions settle, and actually become more stable over time.

I have 2 'antique' Gabions built in the 1800's on either side of the creek on my place that I imagine were bridge supports at one time long ago. They were built with timbers with rocks in the middle, and they are still there. I will try to get a picture of them and post them here in the next few days (it's dark out right now). One is failing only because the creek bank is starting to cut under it from a change in the stream.



Hope this helps!

I found this image that has metal panels between the Gabion cages. This is what I am shooting for without the cost of going to a commercial supplier.





 
Bernhard Haussler
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I go with your idea of Gabion posts. Very important to their long term stability is that steel rod in the centre - I would go with 32mm [1 1/4"] 1.8 - 2.4 long.  For a 2' diameter cage you need a little more than 6' of cattle grid. Rock is OK but make sure you get a good amount of pebble into the voids otherwise the rock itself will cause tilting as it settles.
 
Danette Cross
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Bernhard Haussler wrote:I go with your idea of Gabion posts. Very important to their long term stability is that steel rod in the centre - I would go with 32mm [1 1/4"] 1.8 - 2.4 long.  For a 2' diameter cage you need a little more than 6' of cattle grid. Rock is OK but make sure you get a good amount of pebble into the voids otherwise the rock itself will cause tilting as it settles.


And a little quickcrete at the bottom won't hurt!
 
Danette Cross
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I am pretty sad about having to take out some antique gabions that some homesteader in the 1800's set up on the sides of my creek for a bridge. The water is undercutting the bank on one side, and the abutment is about to go into the creek, so I want to disassemble it and save what I can before that happens.  Here is a video of the creek and the gabions (at about the 4 minute mark).

Mission Creek Farm - The Melt Is On
 
Miles Flansburg
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Danette I went ahead and embedded that video here. Hope that is OK?



What a beautiful stream by the way, any fish in there?
 
Danette Cross
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Danette I went ahead and embedded that video here. Hope that is OK?


What a beautiful stream by the way, any fish in there?


Sure!  Yes, Mission Creek is awesome, but now I am pondering a bridge, because once the melt comes, it tends to stay for most of the summer, and that is when I really need to get back on the other side of the creek where about 4 of my 5 1/2 acres are! You can see that the "3 Acre Wood' needs serious chainsaw attention!  Several dead standing and fallen trees to clean up etc.

As for fish, they say there are, but I haven't had the time to fish... and it looks like a nice fly fishin' stream to me, but I've not seen a single trout in the 4 years I have been on the place.
 
Alan Loy
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Just a thought, from your video it seemed that the undercutting was on the outside of a bend.  If so I would think this will continue even with no debris in the creek.

Perhaps you could use modern gabions on the undercut to protect that side and keep the old gabion.
 
Danette Cross
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Alan Loy wrote:Just a thought, from your video it seemed that the undercutting was on the outside of a bend.  If so I would think this will continue even with no debris in the creek.

Perhaps you could use modern gabions on the undercut to protect that side and keep the old gabion.


Well, we have a governmental agency here in the US called the EPA, and they make any changes to a bank nearly impossible, even if you own the land outright like I do. They really give you grief if you put any 'structure' in or near the water. I can use rip rap, but it is very expensive and in that area, would be very hard to haul in. I can use gabions 2 to 4' from the edge of the bank for my bridge abutments though.
 
Travis Johnson
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Danette, what a beautiful stream and a nice piece of property! I live on top of a hill so all the water in two watersheds starts on my farm and leaves it...no real streams. And while I know the secret to life is being content with what a person has...oh my, can I ever say I am coveting your stream.

I wish I was there to help you with it; my chainsaw works! (I do a lot of logging here). We could clean up that other side in no time, build a bridge, get some micro-hydro power in there...oh the possibilities are endless.

I wish you the best of luck with your place. Beautiful!
 
Danette Cross
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Travis Johnson wrote:Danette, what a beautiful stream and a nice piece of property! I live on top of a hill so all the water in two watersheds starts on my farm and leaves it...no real streams. And while I know the secret to life is being content with what a person has...oh my, can I ever say I am coveting your stream.

I wish I was there to help you with it; my chainsaw works! (I do a lot of logging here). We could clean up that other side in no time, build a bridge, get some micro-hydro power in there...oh the possibilities are endless.

I wish you the best of luck with your place. Beautiful!


Thanks Travis! I am blessed that is for sure. When I was looking for land, my priorities were (1) live, year round stream (2) live, year round stream (3) room for sheep!!  But now that I have been here for about 4 years, have my gardens in, got my sheep, got  livestock guardians, built a sheep shed, have a hay shed, fenced the lower pasture and few other things, well, it's time to move to projects on the other side of the creek!

If someone were to ask me for a list of top items (equipment etc) to get before you start out, it would be a small tractor with some basic implements (depending on your layout) and a good 30" Stihl chainsaw.  Had the tractor (1954 Ford NAA) and a cheesy chainsaw, and still need some implements.... time for a 'real' chainsaw, and a bush hog that doesn't think it's a plow!

Once I get a bridge in, I want the water wheel under the bridge to protect it from 'stuff' and ice.  Here in NW Montana, it does get a bit chilly!
 
Travis Johnson
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I do a lot of logging (40-50 cord per week) so I live by my chainsaw, literally.

Never by a chainsaw by the bar length, always by the number of CC's. For instance I have a 76 cc chainsaw; a Stihl MS461 which is a pretty big chainsaw. I only run a 18 inch bar on it because:

1) The bar and chain costs less to buy, and I buy a lot of them
2) I can cut a 36 inch tree with a 18" bar and that is a pretty big tree. Even I seldom cut bigger trees than that.
3) I get a lot more power out of my saw since it is not powering as much chain
4) There is a lot less fatigue in running a shorter bar

But this is me, and I cut wood all day, almost every day so I need to get as much dome as quickly as I can. I understand too that MT might be different than ME. Definitely go with a Stihl though. The saws have 2 piston rings instead of only 1 like the other saws and last much longer. I got 22 years out of my last 046 Stihl and yet cannot get much past 9 months with Husky saws before they dynamite on me.

As for your property, I can visualize what you are suggesting and hope you can do what you want. Myself, I have a few streams that are sadly only seasonal, but with a bit of earthwork, I hope to increase the flow. Here forest has no value any more, so I am clearing land for more sheep. With the terrain here, and some shaping, I am hoping to get the water to drain better thus improving my streams.
 
andre hirsz
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Hi Jay. I just replied to Jack Milners post on incorporating gabion with slipform foundation for a 2 foot slipform wall to rest on. Where rock is plentiful, it.seems like a logical solution.
 
Linda Secker
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I have a steep bank on my allotment and some years ago, terraced it with timber. These have had it already and I am thinking linear gabions instead. I know the ancients managed all their terraces with rock walls, presumably dry stone, so I'm thinking gabions will work fine! The only disadvantage that I can see is the width needed for stability.

My bank is roughly 8' high over 8-12' (it's steeper at one end than the other) and currently divided into 3 terraces but could have done with 4.... they're gonna be narrow aren't they... do any of you have any info on just how narrow gabions you can get away with?? I do NOT want to be doing all this again
 
Dale Hodgins
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Recycled chain link fencing, is generally free and can be used for certain types of gabion. The stuff around commercial sites is often six or seven feet tall.

Stuff that is well galvanized, would be suitable for reinforcing the edge of a pond. When filled with suitable aggregate it can work as a biofilter. Many  aquatic plants will gladly take root in a submerged gabion.

This winery is in South Africa.
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Thyri Gullinvargr
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Some of what the wheaton labs folk are calling rock jacks look like the circular gambions. The difference is they're using them to hold up fence posts instead of using them as fence posts.

https://permies.com/t/39351/permaculture-projects/rock-jack
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have seen telephone poles held up by gabions on Ontario's Bruce peninsula and in portions of the Canadian Shield, where bedrock comes to the surface. I think it's been done on permafrost as well.

The pole in the photo is on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. Newfoundlanders often refer to their home as The Rock. I lived there for a year and did some rock climbing.
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