Looks Smarter than a Box of Rocks

digit(ID/WA)May 28, 2013

Okay, a basket of rocks!

It seems to me that something RM gardeners should have good access to is rocks. There is something called a "gabion wall." They aren't terribly attractive -- just do a google image search.

Gabion is an Italian word and just means "basket." So, they are heavy wire baskets and they are filled with rocks. (Filling them with rocks would make them really heavy!)

The civil engineers are using them all over the place for retaining walls - along highways. I have even seen them holding up hillside paths in parks. Okay, what about a shovelful or 2 of good soil and a plant in there with the rocks? VoilÃÂ : A green wall/vertical garden!

I have seen a close-up of this wall and it, for all the world, looks like it was put together with those plastic milk crates that you see at the backdoor of every supermarket:

The light isn't the best but I just thought the picture (the Amazon campus in Tacoma, building owned by Paul Allen) showed what might be done with a basket . . . holding something. What they are probably holding is the same material used for an erosion blanket. That might be cocunut fiber or a synthetic, poly-something. But, that wall is against the wall of a building.

If you search enuf, you will find some folks have put those gabion walls against buildings. I don't know why they did that. They aren't attractive.

If you search enuf, you will find that the civil engineers have been planting grass on some of their gabion walls. Well, that looks better than stacked baskets of rocks! I think they could do a little better. As a retaining wall, fence or just a landscape feature of some sort, they could be attractive if they are growing plants.

Now, I just need to ask myself if I am willing to build wire baskets. Certainly have the rocks, a shovelful of dirt, a plant . . .


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david52 Zone 6

Some guys around here are making 'fence posts' by pounding in a t-post, then putting a two - 3 feet circle / circumference of chain link fence around it, then filling the whole thing with rocks.

At least I think they put in a t-post. They might just be filling up the fencing with rocks. Anyway, it looks 'ok'.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:18PM
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What if they put a .

. . clematis vine in with the rocks?


    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 11:37PM
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Here is what the civil engineers can do with several gabions stacked as a wall:

Imagine if that was something besides perennial ryegrass.

(checking on the price of galvanized wire :o>

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:15AM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Hi Steve,
I think I've seen what you mean.
On the road from
Denver to Winter Park, over Berthoud Pass, it looks like there are piles of rocks wrapped up in chicken wire, stacked on top of each other. Like that?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 12:56PM
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When we were looking for information to build a retaining wall, we did come across these caged rocks...thanks to digit, now I know what they are called. b2alicia, I believe those caged rocks over the pass are to prevent rock slides. If you google "Gabion" as digit suggested, you would see that they are used on dry stacked walls. I find them unattractive at best. I wonder if this technique is a quick way and assurance to prevent the stacked rocks falling out. When the fella and I was building our retaining wall, it was like a jigsaw puzzle finding the right fit for each rock and making sure it was level with a slight inward slope at every level. We also decided to pour in a foot deep concrete base. It's a wonder it took is so long to get it completed and we are almost done LOL! We picked up the cap stones today and will be on our way to mortar that in the next few weeks....then it will finally be done! The fella and I were joking that it will be the only thing standing if a tornado came through since it was probably overkill with the concrete base we did.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:28AM
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One of the cages they make uses this real heavy woven "chicken wire." It isn't real chicken wire since there is kind of a joke out there that the only thing chicken wire stops is a chicken. Any varmint can get right thru it and I can hardly believe that it is made heavy enuf for rocks! Still, there must be some other product out there that is made the same way!

I am off to Lowes this morning for a box of screws - yes, I've got 1 or 2 of those loose. I'm going to look at the price of woven wire. You know, it will take a fair amount of it since a box has 6 sides.

I'm not sure that I'm gonna do this "box of rocks" thing. I haven't quite figured out where to put it or what might be growing on/in it which would have 12 month visual appeal. I suffer with one problem. The HUGE pile of rocks beside my big veggie garden is on the leeward side! I would have to cart the dang things about 50 yards to build a useful wall against the wind . . .

The new garden extenstion is closer but would require a 200' wall for a wind break! Squeezing a "gabion feature" into my small yard, instead of the gardens, really takes some thought . . .


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:44AM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Ha! "A few screws loose". You're such a card, Steve.

Good luck finding your heavy-duty wire. By the way, chicken wire luckily worked as a barrier for the bunnies living under my deck.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Digit,

If you get your screws tightened (!) and decide you're gonna build a Box of Rocks--it sure does sound like a good way to "dispose of" some rocks!--I suggest my usual easy-to-grow-and-evergreen solution to cover it with!

With soil between the rocks (but I think you'd need a lot of peat or something "fibrous" around the outside edges to keep the soil from washing/falling out) you could easily stick a bunch of different sedums and hen & chicks in the cracks and in a couple years it would be covered with Evergreen Stuff! It would look like a planted rock wall--albeit a very geometric one! Even succulents need some moisture, and they grow/spread faster if they're watered more or less regularly in the beginning, so you would need to plan to stick a little sprinkler or something on top of it--something that would water very slowly, and then turn it on and let the water slowly filter down thru the whole thing.

If you decide to go with something like that, I'll send you starts for the sedums and semps! (And then there are links to those two succulent places on B2's "#2" thread where you can go into absolute Semp Heaven considering the possibilities!) Will throw in some 'White Nugget' iceplant too--FREE! :-D

Happy rock caging,

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Thank you Skybird!

There was a time when I had to spend several hours, several times a week, frozen in a chair. I was monitoring something important but, usually, the machine just did what it was supposed to do and if not, all sorts or alarms went off!

After several years of this . . . I tried origami and my interest was making boxes. (Obviously, I imagine myself as too practical of a person to be involved in any art-form.) I think this experience would have no value in making rock boxes but I thought I'd mention it.

>sigh Getting down to brass tacks, I believe that because of the nature of "welded wire" that 6' fencing would yield a cube somewhat smaller than 30". The cost would be about $7.50. A 6' wall would therefore run about $11/foot. My 200' garden addition . . . yikes!

You know, if I ever get a neighbor on the eastside like 1 or 2 of the people that have lived there . . . Yes, I can imagine filling a space of about 20' from near the house corner to the corner of the greenhouse with a 6' rock wall! Could have a water feature . . .


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:17PM
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I am definitely going to try this using wire fencing to make a small wall to level off my backyard. It only needs to be a couple of feet tall.
Re planting sedum: I suppose you could leave the top open and submerge a pot of soil into the rocks for planting. There is also that yogurt/moss trick, that would be cool.
What about recycling wire lobster pots into gabion cages? That would look pretty cool.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 10:25AM
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I was thinking about what a planter might look like.

Remarkably, there are spiral gabion planters sold in Europe!

Imagine what something like this might look like in time -- even if nothing was deliberately planted in the walls.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kräuterspirale Gabione

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 8:45PM
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david52 Zone 6

Steve, with the number of rocks you have in your gardens, you might be onto something here ......

You could sell them as kits - chicken wire, some rebar, and a couple loads of rocks from your garden, and a blueprint.

Those are seriously cool. I am now wondering where I could put one.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:43PM
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I wonder if that wall at Amazon is in a public space? If so... I just may have to go check it out sometime (I'm just a short drive from Tacoma). :-)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 5:32AM
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Greenbean! It is real good to see you!

I haven't had internet thru most of last week . . .

Yes, it is in front of a new building there.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Thanks Steve!
I still pop in here now and again, this is still one of the friendliest forums. :-)
Gardening is a little different here in WA than it was in CO. I haven't seen a bit of hail all summer...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 4:43AM
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What does this look like to you?

It's kind of a blurry "capture" (sorry) but it looks a lot like a stack of plastic milk crates to me. However, it is specially made by an Australian company. I don't know if there is any plastic products company doing something similar in the US.

Yeah you bet, it is for a "green wall."

Might be smarter than a box of rocks . . .


    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 11:06AM
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