Gabions and River / Reno Mattresses

Pretoria 4m wall

Gabions layed onto geotextiles are wire mesh boxes, containers or baskets filled with rock to prevent soil erosion and to retain/contain soil particles. Gabions and geotextiles used together reduce water velocities and re-capture river bed sediment in streams. Flat Gabions, called River or Reno Mattresses are widely used in river courses where soil erosion is a problem over a large flat area needing to be protected against soil loss or scour. They are used mostly in the civil engineering industry especially in the construction of roadway draining structures, however recently due to their environmental benefits are being used in many various applications and industries.

We manufacture Class A Galvanised or with further PVC coating, hexagonal woven wire mesh gabion materials. The woven mesh has a high tensile strength at the same time having a high compressive strength when filled with suitable un-weathered rock. Our materials are quality assured, supplied together with the SANS 1580 mark and are used in a very wide range of applications.

Internationally gabion materials have been commonly used since the early 1880’s all over the world and have become one of the main soil erosion control and retaining wall solution elements. Some have tried to use more rigid welded-mesh elements and sometimes even plastic materials for gabion materials. However time and again the high strength and flexibility of the honeycomb shaped (hexagonal steel wire mesh) has proven to provide the ultimate solution.

Gabions are supplied in a wide range of sizes, commonly measured firstly in length x width x height of basket (all measurements in metres). Standard sized baskets are available, listed on our website, other sizes can sometimes be made available depending on the quantity required and also bearing in mind that they take longer to manufacture than standard sized units.

Features and Benefits

Gabion baskets have been used for a long time period internationally and are preferred on government projects due to some of the following reasons;-

  • High strength – un-weathered rocks used within the gabion provide high compressive strength.
  • Enhanced flexibility – woven steel wire mesh is used for the baskets, allowing movement over expansive soils without failure.
  • Labor intensive – gabions use a lot of manpower, with little use of machinery required. Unskilled labor from local communities can be used and trained in a short time period.
  • Low environmental impact – vegetation and plants/trees can be incorporated in the gabion system to cover the gabion or mattress protection in a short time.
  • High porosity – gabions unlike concrete do not require weep-holes for water pressure release behind the retaining walls, they have a 35% pore space volume, allowing free movement of water through the walls, and soil fines movement are blocked with a geotextile filter fabric.
  • Bomb and earthquake proof – gabion structures can provide protection for; bomb shelters and earthquakes, especially when filled with rock and soil due to their high flexibly/strength characteristics.
  • Mattress linings – offer vegetation growth and the benefit of microorganisms within the structure to provide food for insects, fish and animals in river situations, unlike the environment created using a solid or segmented concrete lining with little environmental benefits.
  • Simple – Local labor is used to erect baskets, and can be trained up in a short time period on site.
  • In time – vegetative root growth will enhance the strength of the structure by binding the rocks together and stabilizing it with soil infill in streams.
  • Economical – suitable rock infill and the use of local labor can be sourced from quarries and communities near the site.


Gabions have been around for over a hundred years and have a wide range of applications and new ones are continually being found. We have listed below the most common applications to date.

  • Mass – gravity retaining walls
  • Skin-reventment walls
  • Reinforced soil walls
  • Terrace walls
  • Channel lining
  • River training structures
  • Gabion weirs
  • Dam embankment protection
  • Roadway culvert in or outlet structures
  • Low-level or Irish crossings
  • Longitudinal river structures
  • Biofilters (Sewage Plants)
  • Hydrochambers (Water storage)
  • Rockfall mesh netting
  • River diversion structures
  • Mine – primary crusher walls
  • Architectural applications
  • Bridge abutment protection
  • Sound barriers

Standard sizes of Gabion and River Mattress Baskets

Gabion Baskets – Hexagonal Woven Mesh type, Class A Galvanized or with a PVC coating, of aperture 80 x 100mm, with mesh wire diameter of 2.7mm and salvage wire dia. of 3.4mm.

Length(m) x Width(m) x Height(m) = m³

  • 2 x 1 x 0.5 (1m³)
  • 3 x 1 x 0.5 (1.5m³)
  • 4 x 1 x 0.5 (2m³)
  • 6 x 2 x 0.5 (6m³)
  • 1.5 x 1 x 1 (1.5m³)
  • 1 x 1 x 1 (1m³)
  • 2 x 1 x 1 (2m³)
  • 3 x 1 x 1 (3m³)
  • 4 x 1 x 1 (4m³)
  • 2 x 0.5 x 0.5 (0.5m³)
  • 4 x 0.5 x 0.5 (1m³)

River or Reno Mattresses – Hexagonal Woven Mesh type, Class A Galvanized or with a 0.50mm thickness PVC coating, of aperture 60 x 80mm, with mesh wire diameter of 2,20mm and salvage wire dia. of 3.40mm respectively.

Length x Width x Height

  • 2 x 1 x 0.30 (0.6m³)
  • 3 x 1 x 0.30 (0.9m³)
  • 4 x 1 x 0.30 (1.2m³)
  • 6 x 2 x 0.17 (2.04m³)
  • 6 x 2 x 0.23 (2.76m³)
  • 6 x 2 x 0.30 (3.60m³)