Rip Rap

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Rip Rap Overview

What is Rip Rap?

Technically defined as loose, large angular stones resistant to erosion, rip rap is a permanent ground cover for protective or defensive landscaping. Rip rap landscaping is particularly effective for marine environments such as shorelines that are vulnerable to damaging waves and eroding stream banks, channels, and inlets.

What Problems It Solves:

Rip rap installation protects soil from potentially eroding where there is concentrated runoff or increasing water levels. A rip rap wall is considered one of the best seawall solutions to bolster shoreline areas as water levels continue to rise.

Any person with an oceanfront property or waterfront on a large lake sees the benefits from rip rap rock landscaping. Weather events like hurricanes are increasingly causing more significant damage to shorelines, making rip rap erosion control a growing necessity. Determining how to install rip rap on a shoreline may be a must, depending on where your property is located.

Images of Rip Rap

Advantages & Disadvantages of Rip Rap


Most waterfront homeowners choose a rip rap seawall for many reasons:

  • Rip rap rock absorbs and dissipates energy from waves, and a rip rap shoreline provides a natural look.
  • A rip rap wall creates a fantastic habitat for wildlife.


There are minor disadvantages to rip rap:

  • While a rip rap retaining wall generally requires minimal maintenance, smaller rip rap rocks, or rip rap gravel, will get misplaced during extreme weather events.
  • Every rip rap wall must be inspected after storms to access any damages, and annual inspections are absolute necessities.

Rip Rap Process


How to Install Rip Rap?

Who is best to install rip rap? There are science and technicalities behind rip rap that you must consider. Here’s what you need to know and what you should ask a professional before rip rap installation:

  1. The soil must be properly graded and compacted. 
  2. Fabric must be applied underneath a rip rap shoreline and secured with steel staples.

The proper size and type of rocks and rip rap gravel must be determined in advance, and a rock bucket is necessary to minimize dirt and contaminants on the shoreline.

Different Types of Rip Rap

The type of rip rap retaining wall you need depends on your location and water body where your property is located. 

A natural fieldstone or granite rip rap wall is preferred because there is less dirt and sand than you would get from generic, quarried loads of rip rap rock. Rip rap concrete is also an option, offering a commercial-grade mix of cement and specially graded sands for an effective rip rap seawall.

Alternative Solutions to Rip Rap

Sometimes, a rip rap wall or rip rap erosion control is not available because conservation efforts are focused on preserving the natural environment and protecting existing wildlife. In this situation, there is an alternative solution to rip rap.

Erosion Control Blanket

This method offers similar benefits to a rip rap shoreline with less environmental impact during installation. Erosion control blankets come in three types: permanent, photodegradable, and biodegradable. 

An erosion control blanket’s primary advantage is its relative ease of installation—it’s easy to transport and roll into place by skilled professionals.

The primary disadvantage of an erosion control blanket is its degradability. Unless a permanent erosion blanket is employed, the photodegradable and biodegradable types eventually stop functioning and break down naturally.

Costs of Rip Rap

To determine a budget for rip rap rock costs, use the following general information to punch in your rip rap calculator to get a better feel for pricing:

  • Rip rap is priced per square foot, and estimates range from a low end of $45 for rip rap gravel to well into the hundreds of dollars for quality sourced rip rap rock.
  • The whole process of designing and building a rip rap retaining wall or rip rap seawall is estimated at $2,200/linear foot and up. Get your estimate based on heavy equipment, number of workers and person-hours, and the type of rip rap.

The best way to solicit bids for rip rap rock landscaping is to understand the issues you are having and your shoreline’s dimensions. Get familiar with the types of rip rap rock, even rip rap concrete, and ask experts for low, medium, and high quotes for the design and quality of rip rap you need.

DIY Solutions for Rip Rap

Is ‘do it yourself’ rip rap even a possibility? If you have sufficient knowledge and expertise, it’s possible, but many professionals or local conservation officials strongly suggest that a rip rap wall is professionally installed.

For peace of mind, search online for “rip rap rock for sale near me.” Getting personal estimates for rip rap materials in advance gives you the knowledge to approach professionals and negotiate the best price for rip rap installation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Rip Rap Wall Really a Permanent Solution?

Installing a rip rap seawall or rip rap retaining wall in your life should last for generations to come. Annual maintenance is necessary to make this possible, and high-quality rip rap is strongly recommended to increase your investment’s longevity.

Why Is it Called Rip Rap?

The nautical term “riprap” originated in 1822 to describe rippling water caused by underwater elevations. Soon, riprap became rip rap, and it described waves crashing into the shore. In modern times, rip rap became the name for the protective materials used to stop or mitigate the forces of advancing waters and waves.

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