Packing Rocks In Your Gabion Basket

An Introductory Guide

One of the most critical aspects of installing a gabion retaining wall, rock wall or landscape feature is ensuring the rock filling is packed inside the basket as effectively as possible.

Different types of rock filling requires slightly different techniques. For example, stone of a flatish nature will pack to a denser finish than rounded pebbles or river rocks. Flatter stones will give you a traditional dry stacked effect in your basket as opposed to a rounded river rock that will which will give a more freeform jumbled look.

If using a river rock or rounded stone ensure that the stones are placed and stable before continuing on to the next layer, rounded stones tend to compress under weight (as they are only touching each other at a few points) and you could end up with some bellowing out at the centre points. This will often happen if you just pour the stones in.

Sedimentary stone, like Castlemaine Stone, tend to have grains or layers within them, this allows for splitting or fracturing to give a flatter surface and therefore greater areas of contact between stones. This allows for smaller gaps and a denser finish to the wall of the gabion basket. Once placed into position there is very little chance for movement of the stone.

We hope that you find the following tips useful for packing your gabion baskets and ensuring that they are perfect before closing them up:

  • Remember that packing the rocks will take time and that trying to rush the process will only end with something going wrong. What you are about to build will last a lifetime so it is worthy of a little effort.
  • Looking over your selection of stone, you will soon get an “eye” for selection and placement, remembering to occasionally stand back and admire your skilled workmanship. This will give you continuity over the whole project.
  • Put aside pieces with a natural right-angled corner, as they are perfect for the corners (other pieces won’t fit as well). Remember that the basket might be seen from the side as well as the front.
  • Don’t throw away rocks that you have deemed too small or wrong angles; they can be used to fill up voids and to wedge the best rocks against the side of the cage (by tessellating them as closely as possible and filling behind).
  • If stacking baskets, it is suggested to complete the base baskets and then construct the next basket in position, this way you will be tying both baskets together and making the structure much stronger.
  • Some people have added personalised or ‘found’ objects to their baskets – just make sure that these objects can withstand the weight of anything being placed on top of them (or place them right on top).

At the end of the day, packing rocks in your gabion baskets is going to be more of a trial and error situation. You will be completing a unique structure – a “Work of Art” if you may – so make sure that you regularly take a step back to admire and check out that you are getting the result you require.