Gabions are the frequent choice for channel design solutions because they provide for economical construction and ensure functional and structural integrity. Unlike many "hard armor" solutions which actually contribute to greater run-off volumes by prohibiting water infiltration, gabions are permeable. Moreover, gabions do not probibit the growth of vegetation but in fact, stabilize soil giving plants the opportunity to take root and grow. Gabions will revegetate spontaneously and once growth takes hold, these channels will provide for the aesthetic and habitat needs of both humans and wildlife. Revegetated channels are further shown to reduce noise levels, provide for significant water filtering and are less likely to be an attractive nuisance.
Channels are commonly trapezoidal or rectangular. Trapezoidal channels have sloped sides and are formed by excavation. Gabion mattresses are placed on sloped sides and channel bottom for protection against erosion.
Rectangular channels have vertical or near vertical sides which are formed with gabions; the channel bottom may be fully or partially protected with gabion mattresses depending upon the resistance of in situ material to erosion or scour.