How to easily make a Gabion Planter

I look for things that we don’t not have here in Canada when I go to another country . When I was in Germany I noticed some very unique ways of creating planters and walls; Gabions! Let me introduce you to my version of this new ‘art’ form; How to easily make a Gabion Planter.

What is a Gabion?

A gabion is a type of structure that utilizes a metal mesh or caged frame filled with rocks and stones to create a wall or container. They can be of varying sizes and shapes depending on the specific purpose.

Since I love using natural elements like stone & rocks in my art & designs this system caught my attention.

Many areas have their own type of indigenous type of rocks and stone so it seems like a perfect way to use what the land already provides. I saw how the stone masons used that principle during my recent trip to Europe; on the slopes of Switzerland and also Germany.

There really is no limit to how creative you can be with stone. Building walls and structures with rock tends to make structures that last a lifetime or more!

My own funny History with Rock & stone:

We all know how perfect rock and stone is for landscaping, but it’s quite funny how I developed my love for stone and rock.

Here’s my cute story from many decades ago! When I was about 11 years old I lived quite close to an escarpment; a change of elevation that is very dramatic and usually has quite the layers of rock exposed. With that change of elevation comes many places where water is flowing towards a lake and therefore often creates waterfalls. Some of the waterfalls are large (Like Niagara falls) or smaller streams that meander through the forest. They are picturesque to see in the shade of the trees and small plants and moss make it even more beautiful. I think that is where and when my love for landscape design started! I would play amongst the stones and rearrange the plants to create the water-scapes and landscapes. If I happened upon a salamander I would be even more excited. It was a simple time back then when children could play in the woods without so much worry and I am grateful to have had that time! It really did resonate with me!

In Switzerland I marvelled at how they used the beachstone meticulously to create the pathways. They looked like they’d been there for decades and provided quite good traction.

Gabion Planters & Walls:

While strolling through the streets in small towns in Germany the use of the gabions really caught my eye. It seems like a perfect solution to create durable ways to make fences and also vessels to plant in. Since they are filled with stones and rock they have good drainage and have extra stability. There are so many advantages of gabion planters.

This gabion planter box is filled with stones (rubble) that is gauged to the size of the mesh. The metal cage can be large scale or smaller depending on the size of the structure.

A gabion wall can incorporated with some stone, brick or concrete or used alone. The types are structures is only limited by imagination and ability to build the wire mesh or cage. Fire pits, benches, planters, posts, & a retaining wall can all be built with this design system.

As long as the specifications for the metal components are weatherproof these will outlast traditional wood structures. Since these incorporate natural stone I love how it compliments the natural garden much more than typical flat wood.

Assemble gabion cages like building blocks, customizable as you like. Powder coatings and standard fasteners make it an easy diy method compared to cutting wood. Fill the gabion baskets with a bucket once they are all assembled. Adjust the stones to make sure they fit the size of mesh and do not protrude..

Designing my own Gabion Planter:

As you may well suspect I love to take inspiration and make it my own! Perhaps in the future I will make a larger scale gabion wall but for now I will create a super easy planter to use for my indoor plants. Doesn’t everyone have a ‘stash’ of pebbles & small stones?!

What do you need to make a gabion Planter?

The basic principle of creating a vessels for the rocks/stones means you need some type of mesh container. I am in luck since my local Dollar store has inexpensive wire baskets that can shaped as you like. You can also buy bags of polished stones or head to your local beach.

Form the shape:

This was so easy to make that I am almost embarrassed to call it a project! Push and pull the wire mesh with your hands and make a more rounded shape or whatever you desire.

To fit the I found a suitable size clear container as I will set a small plant inside. Depending on your colour scheme you could also paint or use the white ones, and use coloured rocks.

Fill Your Gabion:

The few minutes involved makes quite an amazing looking planter compared to regular plant pots. Use a lush plant to hide the rim of the inside vessel well.

Look for other types of wire baskets in the home organization section of local stores. When you consider a larger project there is also hardware mesh that could be cut and built into more rectangular boxes with some tying wire. It comes in 1/4″ & 1/2″ size square holes.

Perhaps you’ll use stones from you area. When searching for great stones and you are not able to gather them yourself I find that Aquarium supply stores do have quite a collection. They even have some interesting wood specimens.

Oh, the sweet memories of a trip across the ocean! Germany does not disappoint! I hope you can take some inspiration to feed your soul as well! To the love of rocks & stones…

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  1. What a fun idea. I’ve got a bucket of small rocks I slowly sieved out of soil, leftovers from a previous owner’s landscaping venture. It’s not enough for a project of any size, but should suit your idea.

    I’m less enamoured of large scale gabions as the gaps between the bigger sun warmed rocks is too attractive for snakes. Did you come across the gabion herb spirals? Many herb spirals look a bit messy, but the crisp geometry of the gabion ones is quite attractive.

  2. Vos idées d’utilisation des gabions m’inspire. Je vais en faire un petit pour l’intérieur. C’est très joli et les pierres pour auquarium, quelle bonne idée !

  3. I recently bought a house in New Brunswick and have this type of wall in my back yard. I never knew the name for it – so thank you for giving it a name for me! The planter idea is fantastic!

    1. Oh, I didn’t know the name either! Once I started to look around I see why it is so appealing! I wonder if it will catch on here in Canada, as they do seem like the systems are ver long lasting. Generally I think building habits are different in Europe than here we tend to use cost factor over longevity. I’m starting to understand why their homes look so good after decades!

  4. There is a backyard fence near my home in Ottawa that uses this technique, now I know the name! I am one of those people who has a stash of little rocks in my craft room. I’m totally going to try this in the New Year when all of the holiday decor is put away and I’m looking for a lift. Thank you so much.

  5. I love your adventures, the incredible photos that you share. Your a great inspiration, for me to try new things and visits new places.

    Thank you

    1. Oh, that is so nice to hear! When I taught at the college level I found my biggest challenge was to get students excited about their work, I felt like I was a cheerleader! Enjoy your adventures in making!

  6. Do you put water or soil in the plastic container surrounded by the rocks to make a Gabion. I have a collection of small rocks. On my travels I used to take home some rocks from places i visited as mementos.