May 20, 2011

Gabion Fencing

Spring has sprung, and with the onset of warmer weather, I have set my sights on the garden. Last season, I investigated many types of fences, as we were planning a project to enclose our courtyard. Over the months we were designing, I collected images of many beautiful and textural options. One of my favorite solutions was the Gabion Wall. These cages can be filled with inorganic material, or even repurposed construction debris.

Gabion walls are wirework containers filled with rock, concrete, debris, or any material you find of interest. Traditionally, these walls are built in the construction of dams and retaining walls, but used as a decorative or architectural solution, they offer unmatched depth and texture.


I researched the work of Landscape Architect Bill Tonnesen while investigating this enclosure method. His website offers several interesting project types.“This fence contains the concrete and cinder block debris left after tearing out an old patio. Block that hasn’t been grouted breaks up easily with an ordinary hammer. Concrete, especially if it’s over four inches thick, is tougher. We used a pneumatic jack hammer to break it up into pieces that could be placed between the welded wire panels. This fence design is eight feet tall x eight inches wide. Cross-tie-bars insure it will stay straight and plumb regardless of what you put in it”

“This six foot tall x eight inch wide rock fence replaced a chain link property line fence. Its support posts are set in concrete and are designed to be almost entirely hidden when the rock is loaded into the welded wire fabric panels. The fabric wire is about as thick as a pencil and has internal hooks that hold the panels to exactly eight inches apart. The temporary wood braces insure the whole fabric assembly doesn’t move out of plumb while it’s being filled”.

In the end we selected a alternate material and construction method for our court yard, to meet our budget and program. Yet, Gabion walls remain a favorite. They are beautiful and can be very expressive depending on your fill selection. Be creative with layered materials, or mixed medium, to create varied color and texture.

Images and excerpts











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