What do I do with my shoreline?

eroding shore

eroding the shore

Of course our floating docks need some shore to enter from, so we often get the question regarding what homeowners should do about their shoreline.

Our preference is to leave it natural.  But sometimes due to erosion, you just can’t do that.

What are your options with improving your shoreline to save that coveted waterfront from sloughing off into the water?

There are really only two choices to save this from happening.

Either bulkhead or riprap.



This is the most expensive and intrusive of the two options.  At the writing of this post, in Louisiana, bulkheading is averaging somewhere between $250-$300 per



linear foot.

To do a bulkhead correctly, you must first find a licensed heavy commercial contractor.  As a warning, a general contractor is not correctly licensed to perform bulkhead (earthen moving) work.  Check with your local contractor’s licensing board for details.

Once you find that contractor, they will dig back a minimum of 10 feet from water’s edge into your property to sink “tie-backs” so that the bulkhead will not fail and fall into the water.  Then they will drive the sheet pile (or other bulkhead material) down along the water’s edge, back-filling with both the dug out and new soil along with some gravel for drainage.  The bulkhead should also have piles driven a minimum of 8′ apart to hold the bulkhead at the water’s edge from failing toward the yard from the pressure of the water.  Finally, either a wood (rated for ground contact) beam or poured concrete cap finishes off the bulkhead.

Also, it isn’t the “prettiest” option, at least in our opinion.


Riprap is the placing of large rocks or concrete chunks along the shoreline.

The only trick is that the larger stones need to be placed toward the water’s edge so that the riprap doesn’t wash away.

From there, it is all your preference.  Many contractor’s will start with some underlay to prevent plants growing through the stones.  Some prefer to have concrete poured between the stones and have a smoother entrance to the water.  Some prefer to let little plants grow among the stones, creating a more natural look.

It is by far the most cost-effective way to deal with erosion.  Riprap is also very environmentally friendly, as you can use re-cycled materials.  it also is less intrusive to your shoreline as the only heavy equipment you will need is something to deliver and place the rocks.  No digging required.  Depending on the cost of purchased materials, this method can range from free to about $100 per linear foot of shoreline.

riprap with concrete

Riprap with concrete between stones



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