The Benefits of Retaining Walls for Waterfront Properties

In the land of 10,000 lakes, we Minnesotans love our waterfront properties. With such proximity to lakes, canals, and rivers, the opportunity for waterside fun is endless, especially during cabin season. But owning property on the water is not without its challenges. If your shoreline is not properly protected and maintained, your waterfront home is at risk for flooding, wind damage, and erosion. Installing a retaining wall can help. Read on for the benefits of retaining walls for waterfront properties.

What are retaining walls?

Retaining walls are strong structures designed to hold or “retain” a mass of earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. They are used to contain soil between two different elevations in areas with difficult terrain or undesirable slopes. For waterfront properties, a retaining wall that retains the soil on the backside and the water on the frontside is called a seawall or bulkhead. Retaining walls are typically constructed using many different materials like stones or concrete and are offered in a variety of styles. A colorful, well-designed retaining wall can also add esthetic value to your property.

Retaining wall materials

A retaining wall for your waterfront property can be constructed from a variety of materials. From concrete and stone to steel, timber, or rip rap, each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Whatever you choose should be based on what’s important to you. The best way to select material is to consider the circumstances of your property now and in the future, as well as your budget and what type of material addresses them best.

  • Cobblestone: using stone adds a beautiful esthetic quality to your property and works well to protect against waves.
  • Concrete: one of the most common types of materials, concrete is durable and lasts for decades.
  • Steel: extremely durable and can last up to fifty years.
  • Rip rap: consists of placing various stones along the shoreline; simple to construct and easy to maintain. Rip rap is also eco-friendly as well.
  • Wood: not as common in Minnesota due to the extreme elements and constant maintenance.
  • Vinyl: available in many colors and provides long-lasting protection for your shoreline.

The Benefits of Retaining Walls

In addition to esthetics and increasing the value of your waterfront property, there are many other benefits to adding a retaining wall:

1. Prevents erosion

Perhaps the number one benefit of constructing a retaining wall is the prevention of shoreline erosion. Shoreline recession is not only caused by the natural flow of water, but ice buildup as well as constant wakes created by boats. As the water pushes against the shore then subsequently recedes, the earth begins to break up and eventually erodes. This reduction in land becomes a big problem for waterfront homeowners on busy waterways as the erosion threatens the property and can lead to costly repairs.  

2. Protection from flooding

Living in the upper Midwest, we all know how much damage storms can cause to our homes. During heavy rainfall, water can rise quickly and lead to devastating flooding which is dangerous for your home and your health as floodwaters carry harmful toxins. Flooding can cause structural damage to the interior and exterior of your home. Retaining walls provide protection from flood waters and keep it from flowing onto your property.

3. An investment that lasts

Many retaining walls have been around for nearly a century. With proper construction and consistent maintenance, your retaining wall can last for decades and protect your property for future generations.

4. Space and cost-effectiveness

Compared to other shoreline defensive structures such as dikes, retaining walls use much less space and are more cost-effective in the long run. They are relatively easy and quick to install so you won’t experience much inconvenience during construction.

A well-constructed, esthetically pleasing retaining wall adds beauty, protection, and value to your waterfront property. If you’re considering installing one, contact the landscaping experts at JK Landscape Construction. Our experienced shoreline restoration professionals will help you choose the best material and design for your property, budget, and lifestyle.

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