Living on the shoreline can be a wonderful way to live out your life. It is common for people to retire in a beach house or a waterfront home. You aren't the only one who appreciates the shoreline or calls the area home, as there are numerous wildlife and fish who call it home as well. Over time, the shoreline will erode and sediments will be removed. This can be caused by runoff, winds, rain and wave action. When major storms come in, the environmental impact and the potential damage to your home increases. Therefore, you may want to consider shoreline stabilization to limit the threat. There are several ways to achieve stabilization of the shoreline, as discussed below.
Non-Structural or Soft Shoreline Stabilization
This particular method utilizes vegetation to stabilize, restore and protect the shoreline. Some of the most common vegetation used for this method is aquatic plantings and dune grasses. Although this will typically require maintenance on a regular basis, it is a great way to preserve the habitats of coastal and local organisms. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation actually recommends soft shoreline stabilization techniques over hard stabilization strategies.
Structural or Hard Shoreline Stabilization
This particular method utilizes hard material to armor and protect the shoreline. Some of the most common structures used are rip rap, seawalls, breakwaters and jetties. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hard structural stabilization of the shoreline may be able to successfully slow the rates of erosion. However, it can also significantly alter the water dynamics and shoreline, lead to loss of intertidal habitat and even aggravate and speed up the erosion. It may also not long as long as other methods.
This particular method takes both of the above and combines them. This helps to preserve as much of the natural shoreline as possible, as well as the organisms that live around it and in it, while also maintaining greater resilience to high-energy waves that can do significant damage. This can be done by using marsh planting along with low-profile rock or oyster reefs, according to the NOAA. Ultimately, if you live in a high-energy environment and need a hardened structure for armor, yet you still want to maintain as natural of a habitat as possible, the hybrid stabilization technique is your best option.
If you aren't sure which technique would work best for your particular situation and environment, consult with a professional marine contractor (like Abbott's Construction Services Inc.) for advice. They will be able to help point in the right direction and can help you build any type of barrier that you need.