Garden with stone benches.

How to Make Creative Cubes in Your Garden

Originally used by the construction industry, galvanized wire mesh crates, known as “gabions,” have been adopted by designers for modern garden landscapes. This exciting show garden is easy to recreate on a smaller scale—buy the gabions at a garden center, or commission a specialist to make them for you.

When to plant: Autumn.

At their best: Summer.

Time to complete: 3-4 days.

You will need: Gabions, flagstones or stones of your choice, wooden box or foam cube, spirit level, thick nylon pantyhose, topsoil or soil-based mix, well-rotted organic matter, all-purpose granular fertilizer.

Selection of plants to use: Gunnera manicata, Astilboides tabularis, Hosta undulata var. albomarginata, Mind-your-own-business – Soleirolia soleirolii, Silver birch, Betula utilis var. jacquemontii.

Stack the crates

This garden is made from gabions stacked together to create the structure and surface. Simply fill them with flagstones and set them on the soil, checking that they are level with a spirit level—dig out or add soil beneath them as necessary. Leave spaces for planting. Fill more gabions and place them on the foundation level to create stepping stones and seats, and leave a few empty to produce an exciting layered effect.

Make leafy gabions

To make the planted crates, place a wooden box or block of foam in the center of a gabion. Then fill up the legs of some thick nylon pantyhose with moist soil, tie the ends, and pack them around the sides and top of the gabion. Cut holes in the pantyhose, and plant small mind-your-own-business plants into the holes. Keep well-watered. The plants will soon spread to fill out the crates.

Plant the beds

In the gaps between the gabions, fill the planting beds with a soil-based mix. Work in some well-rotted organic matter, such as manure or homemade garden compost, to increase water retention for these moisture-loving plants. Plant the birch trees in late autumn and the other plants in early spring. Keep well-watered for the first year, and during dry spells thereafter.

” You can fill your gabions with almost anything, from used bottles to wood offcuts. If you are building a new garden, look around the site for fillers, such as bricks, pebbles, and rocks.”