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Reno Mattress

Every bed needs a mattress - even a river bed!

Environmentally-friendly protection against erosion

The Reno Mattress belongs to the family of gabions but its chief difference is that because it tends to be used for a different purpose, it is wider and thinner than a typical gabion. Like the gabion, though, it is a wire cage which is packed with large 'quarry waste' type stone and wired to its adjacent mattress to create a continuous surface.

The origin of the name, Reno Mattress is not clear but it is my guess that it is a play on the cage's low and elongated shape (the 'Mattress' part) and Reno which has the distinction of being known as the divorce capital of the world and the home of the instant nullification. Thus an extremely uncomfortable night spent unadvisedly sleeping on a 'Reno Mattress' could be likened to a night with an unwanted partner in Reno.

There is no intrinsic reason why a Reno Mattress cannot be used to retain a soil bank but it tends to be used in preference in the bed of streams or rivers - often immediately downstream of a weir or dam. The idea is that these areas of the river bed are particularly prone to 'scouring' - erosion caused by high velocity, turbulent flow and the mattress protects the bed. This erosion is particularly important to prevent because if not attended to can quickly undermine the foundations of the dam or weir with consequentially dramatic results.

Sometimes the protection of the sides of the banks is required and mattresses can be laid at an angle to provide this protection. Without its cage, this protection is known as 'Rip-Rap' but it does the same job.

From an environmental point of view, these cages must score very highly. They are quickly assimilated into the landscape, contain no chemicals or other dangerous materials with the only really possible hazard being the wire ties which bind them together. These should be made from galvanised steel, twisted and turned in after snipping. Usually within a few years of placement, vegetation will have covered exposed areas and the protection becomes more or less invisible thus making it compare very favourably with the more expensive concrete.

The requirement for fixing a Reno Mattress is similar to that required for gabions namely an excavator and several semi-skilled labourers. There is no need for a mason to lay the stone filling in any particular way.

Perhaps you know a different origin for the name Reno Mattress?

Reno Mattress

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All material copyright of Clive West and Damaris West 2007 - 2017 and not to be used or reproduced without written permission.

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