Waterfront property owners have to take measures to prevent erosion. Severe weather, tide changes, ice and waves all take their toll and can eat away at your investment. A carefully constructed seawall or erosion barrier is usually the best solution. Seawalls can be constructed out of lumber, concrete, steel or vinyl, but rip rap has many advantages over all other options because it is easy to install and is natural and environmentally friendly. Rip rap is the name given to large-diameter granite or other gravel. The size varies with different classes of rip rap.
Contact your local county or city authority to find out if you need a permit. Shorelines are often under the control of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the delicate ecology is carefully guarded. You may be required to provide a drawing showing the proposed location and a list of materials for your erosion protection project. A county or state representative may make a field visit to your property.
Excavate the proposed border area. Use shovels to clear all vegetation away and make it smooth. The width of the border will depend on your specific conditions, including the angle of your shoreline and type of soil. The size of your rip rap gravel will also depend on your conditions. The supplier or county inspector should be able to advise you.
Lay erosion filter fabric on the cleared area. This material will help prevent the vegetation from re-growing but will allow water to filter through it. Hold it down temporarily with stones to keep it in place. Shovel the rip rap over the erosion cloth. Spread it out evenly across the entire shore area all the way down to the low tide mark.
Dig a shallow trench at the top of the rip rap border. Lay treated 4-by-4 lumber in the trench to demarcate the rip rap area and divide it from the lawn area. Treated lumber is rot and termite resistant. You can seal or paint it if you wish but it is not necessary.