Filling our gabion baskets — Life at 139a

02 Nov.,2022


how to make gabion baskets

It's been a while since I shared the start of our gabion basket journey, and I can't believe how quickly it's gone, so today, belatedly I'm sharing how we filled them. I was keen for a mix and match approach, but MOH favoured buying rocks and going for a more normal look. The sort of look you see on the sides of motorways, and as we later discovered in our local B&Q, and then again for part of the gabion wall at Hyde Hall. They're everywhere and it’s like when you've decided on a new car, you’re suddenly aware of it everywhere, and wonder if you’ve made the right choice.

I don't expect you'll be surprised to learn that we didn't go for the uniform and more usual buying rocks to fill these. MOH had worked out the quantities needed - using one of the gabion basket providers sites - and told me a big number, I think in the hope to shock me. It didn't shock me as I'd already used that calculator and gone one further and worked out the cost for buying the stones too.  Yes, exactly.

I did some speedy internet searching, on eBay and Gumtree and Freecycle, to see if we could buy bricks and rubble, and even if people would give them away. It turned out we could, and even better, there were a couple of people giving stuff away less than twenty minutes away by car. Proving to MOH that we could collect enough stuff for free, and he knows me well enoug to know when he was beat.

So on another one of those hot days we headed over to Hither Green and loaded the boot of my Renault Clio full of sacks of rubble, bricks and broken slabs. The lady there was happy for us to take as much as we could and a car-full was gratefully accepted. The next day we headed over to the other side of Blackheath and loaded the car again, this time with help from the man giving the rubble away.  He said he was glad to be getting rid of it, so it was the least he could do. In this collection there were roofing tiles, more broken slabs, some rubble and some bags of post-crete that had been activated. 

So now as well as the stones, bricks and other suitable garden rubbish we had two car-fulls of free rubble or hardcore. And the latter was all stored in our front garden, so there was still the large job of moving them through the house and up to the end of the garden. In the heat that wasn't a job we relished, and then while we were preparing the area and getting the baskets positioned I managed to get a reaction to a mosquito-like bite.

We'd already decided to fill the large 1 metre depth x 1 metre high x .5 metre wide baskets first. There's two of those and they were the most important to be filled as our new pizza oven would sit on top of these. With the bite growing ever bigger and me becoming increasingly grumpy about it and less mobile, I was banned from carrying bags of rubble.  

Thankfully that coincided with the day that my SIL and BIL were drafted in to help out, and the day the four of us installed sleepers in another part of the garden.  And yes, they did work hard and we were ever so grateful. It's amazing how much more work you can get done with four pairs of hands, over two (even when one pair of hands isn’t as useful as they’d be without that bite!)

So while the three of them carried our newly found collection of rubble through the house, around the chicane of the dining room table, out of the conservatory, across the circles and up to the stone circle at the end of the garden I waited and sorted out pieces suitable to be at the front and on display. The thing with gabion baskets is they get their strength from how they're filled. So the filling needs to be compacted and free of large gaps, as large gaps don't equal stability.

And so we made a start.