Stone Walls

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Joanna Savage

  • Sr. Member
Stone Walls
« on: October 12, 2015, 11:22:26 AM »
Caroline, I very much enjoyed the photo of your garden on the MGS FaceBook page today. As well as the plants I am interested in your  garden wall of which there is only a glimpse. Is it made of those accumulations of stones called gabbions? I once thought about trying to make something similar with all the small stones to be found lying around here but in the end I had to admit to myself that I just don't like working with wire netting.

Caroline

  • Full Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2015, 08:05:55 AM »
Hi Joanna. Yes it is a gabion wall you are looking at in the Facebook photo.  I have them across the back of my house to retain the slope, which was dug out to provide a building platform.  The gabion "baskets" came ready assembled, from memory, with reinforced corners and "lids" which were bent over and secured with wire once the baskets were full. Each basket was 2 meters long and one meter high. Two local stonemasons (they also build dry-stone walls) filled the baskets carefully with stones from the quarry up the road, selecting each stone so it fitted snugly.

The first photo shows the back patio before the gabions were installed.  The second one is taken more or less from the same spot this afternoon. The area behind the wall was planted up just over 12 months ago, so progress has been good.

Hope this helps!
I am establishing a garden on Waiheke Island, 35 minutes out of Auckland. The site is windy, the clay soil dries out quickly in summer and is like plasticine in winter, but it is still very rewarding. Water is an issue, as we depend on tanks. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas. Caroline

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Alisdair

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2015, 03:50:34 PM »
Lovely pair of before-and-after pictures, Caroline (and thanks again for letting us use the one on the facebook page!)
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and current president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Joanna Savage

  • Sr. Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2015, 05:22:45 AM »
Hello Caroline, thanks for your helpful description of your use of gabions as retainers. I have seen them used in the UK and in Australia but have not seen them in Italy. I'll try to find out if they are available, in smaller sizes, as I have a mass of small stone which must be a by-product from the building of the stone village over hundreds of years. The gabion seems to be a good solution for building on slopes, allowing for water drainage and adjusting to small soil movements when reinforced concrete would soon crack.

Joanna Savage

  • Sr. Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2015, 05:32:16 AM »
On the subject of stonewalls, here is a wall being rebuilt in this garden in Toscana. There is at least 40 cm of stone rubble behind the facing blocks. The wall had started to bow outwards caused by  water runoff. It will be rebuilt with mortar behind and with plenty of drainage holes. That should last another fifty years but it is a difficult place to retain as small tractors use the narrow Comune road above.

Joanna Savage

  • Sr. Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2015, 05:34:27 AM »
The excavated stone wall

Caroline

  • Full Member
Re: Stone Walls
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2015, 08:21:57 AM »
Glad you found my comments useful, Joanna.  I should have added that behind the gabion retaining wall, between it and the clay, is a special fabric which allows water but not silt/clay through, and the patio between the wall and the house has drainage built in under the gravel.  It really rains here in winter, and  without this kind of precaution it's easy to spend the winter marooned in a sea of mud.  Even so, in the depths of July or August I sometimes have the feeling that the entire slope on which the house is built is a moving mass of water.  The plus of my gabion walls is that the planting on top of it has better drainage than elsewhere, which is very helpful for some of the things I am trying to grow.  The soakage field for the septic tank, on the other hand... ::)
I am establishing a garden on Waiheke Island, 35 minutes out of Auckland. The site is windy, the clay soil dries out quickly in summer and is like plasticine in winter, but it is still very rewarding. Water is an issue, as we depend on tanks. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas. Caroline