tutorial: landscape gabions

We’re working on our front entrance. For about 8 years we used a temporary staircase that is now rotting through. This staircase is totally not to code. You have to have a landing before the doorway.IMG_0388

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Here are a bunch of renderings of our ideas. We tend to dream big, then start planning for that dream drawing and realize that we are in over our heads, because we are our only laborers. Then we go back to the drawings, and do something a bit more simple. We tend to design for our dream home, and then another design for today. It’s strange, I know.

So for our front deck, we have to do it in stages:

  • First and foremost, we need a way in and out of the house.
  • we need to create a smooth transition from the garage up to the base of the stairs. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s a significant incline.

These two things we think we can accomplish in a couple of months, well, probably by the end if winter, the rains are about to start.

  • Then we need to build up a very large berm connecting the back yard all the way to the door. The plan is to have one step off of the front deck onto dirt, which could easily be covered for a ramp for wheel access.
  • We will landscape the berm so that it’s a smooth ramp from the driveway to the top of the porch. This will ensure that anyone with difficulties with our stairs can easily walk the ramp or get wheeled into the house. Plus it’s great for deliveries of large items like appliances or furniture.

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So Phase 1 was starting on gabions.

Materials

  • Gabion cages (found at architectural landscape supply stores)
  • Gabion hardware – should come with the cages
  • 4-8” diameter rock, usually picked up by the ton – 1.3 tons of rock per cubic yard of gabion cage, for 3×9’ cage, that’s 3.9 tons of rock (see image below for more info)
  • landscaping cloth

Tools

  • Bucket if you want to break your back hauling
  • Rent a Dingo from your lumber yard

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  • Gabion cages come flat like the first picture.
  • Layout landscape cloth where you want the gabion.
  • Assembling the cage is quite easy. You just lift up the sides and swing in the middle partitions.

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  • They come with “corkscrews”, hooks, and clamps, shown in the first 3 pictures.
  • Use the hooks to stabilize corners, as shown in the 4th photo tile.
  • Once you have the cages filled with rock, close the top and corkscrew the two sides closed. It goes very easily.
  • Use the clamps to “lock” the corkscrews in place.

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Our gabion placement was just below a gutter downspout spot, so we buried a drain to keep water away from the gabion and, more importantly, away from our house.

We filled the first gabion by hand, which is a very stupid idea. We, meaning mostly Bryce, carried large rocks, one bucket at a time, from our huge rock pile delivered from Dig, into the gabion cage. It took him a few days, and we did the math, and he moved 3.9 tons of rock. See the image below for the math.

So we finally rented a Dingo from Island Lumber and that helped a lot. Here Bryce is moving a load of dirt around so we can start to create that berm.

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And here are the before and after shots. Well, technically, before and during shots. We still have a lot more work to do!

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