Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: One man's rubbish ...

By Justin Newcombe

2 comments
After filling the basket with aggregate sew the lid down. Photo / Supplied
After filling the basket with aggregate sew the lid down. Photo / Supplied

Once in a while we pull up a path, or dig a hole and pull out some rocks, or maybe you have some old bricks lying around or even some river pebbles left over from that old boulder garden. What you're left with is hard fill, expensive to dump as well as to buy. Obviously if you're preparing a patio or driveway this material is invaluable as clean fill. But if you don't have a use for it right away, you don't want it hanging around on the driveway for six months while you get your act together.

So I've come up with a solution which anybody can do and which makes a useful versatile object you can use in many parts of the garden.

Gabions or wire baskets filled with concrete can be used as a border or raised edge, to flatten out sloping paths or as a step under pavers. Gabions will not last as steps on their own as the wire will wear out and the basket will burst, so they need to be covered with timber, stone or pavers. In fact you can make a whole new raised garden from something that was previously annoying rubbish.

Once the gabions are installed then filled they're quite solid so they can be stacked like bricks.

To build a larger weight-bearing wall requires some engineering, but small garden projects can be achieved easily. Nothing better than turning an expensive waste problem into a tidy solution.

To make the gabions, I've used a roll of square profile wire, cut into strips then sewn together with wire to form my baskets. I've made mine 500mm long, 200mm high and 200mm wide. The best way to measure the wire though is to count the squares. Once formed, each basket is set in place on a small amount of compacted base course, then filled and sewn closed. The baskets are reasonably time-consuming to make, each one taking about half an hour. But with the help of a few more hands and by employing a bit of a production line this can be reduced to about 10 minutes. I actually found sewing the wire together quite relaxing.

Step 1

Roll out the wire and cut into four strips of equal width. I used square profile wire which meant I was able to count the squares to get even widths. Cut the wire to length. Mine are 500mm long.

Step 2

Using galvanised wire (you'll find it in the fencing section at Bunnings) sew two of the sections together. Then turn the wire inside out so the seam is on the inside. Join the two sections together. Remember to leave the final seam undone.

Step 3

Attach the sides to the three sides of the basket that are joined together.

Step 4

Dig out a shallow footing. Use a level and float to ensure your base course is level; lay a bedding of loose aggregate.

Step 5

Place the empty basket on the footing and, again, check it is level.

Step 6

Fill the basket with aggregate. I used old pavers which gave quite an even, linear effect. Make sure you use smaller aggregates to fill in the gaps. This will make the box a lot tighter.

Step 7

Once the basket is packed right to the top, sew the lid down.

Step 8

Backfill the wall and if the baskets are to be used as step, cover with a tread. I've used pavers to create a step.

- NZ Herald

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