How Seawall Construction Enhances Your Boating Experience

How Can Seawall Construction Improve Your Shoreline and Boating Experience?

Seawalls are a common sight along the banks of lakes, ponds, and rivers. They are vertical or almost vertical structures that protect shoreline property and permanent pier installations from erosion. Not only do seawalls protect property from erosion and surging floods, they also reduce the impact of a boat’s wake.

Why Seawalls are Important for Boating Enthusiasts

Chances are that, as a boat owner, you also have shoreline property. Even if you don’t, your boat probably spends a good amount of time moored alongside the shore of whichever body of water you frequent. The area where the water meets the land is a critical place for boaters to maintain so that long, sunny days out on the blue expanse can be enjoyed to their fullest potential.

Seawalls and Boat Wakes

There’s nothing more exciting on a summer afternoon than increasing the throttle of your boat or jet-ski and cruising across the water. Speed isn’t everything, though, and sometimes dropping a line and relaxing is what the day calls for. Whether going fast or taking it slow, though, excessive wakes from passing boat engines can hinder your good time.

Because of the nature of waterways in the Midwest, seawall construction in Illinois is particularly important. As we’ve all experienced, motorized boats on small lakes and rivers generate substantial wakes that disrupts recreational aquatics like swimming and fishing. While boaters should always practice good boating etiquette, you unfortunately can’t always expect others to do so.

Seawall construction mitigates the effects of a passing boat’s wake on the shoreline and effectively reduces the overall wake impact of boats on the body of water. This wake reduction is particularly helpful for those of us with floating docks, because performing maintenance on your pier or boat is easier when there’s less wave action at the shoreline.

Protection Against the Elements

Boat wakes aren’t the only sources of powerful waves. High winds and choppy conditions can wreak havoc on your shoreline, your pier, and your boat itself.

Nasty weather will damage and even destroy boats that are moored in a seemingly safe location, and can damage piers, moorings, and shorelines as well. Ice floes in the winter can crash and scrape against your dock, runoff from flooding can wash soil away, etc. Even under tranquil conditions, erosion steadily wears away your shoreline via waves, wind, and rain.

Seawall construction is a responsible and diligent way for you to defend your investments from the unpredictable threat of damaging weather conditions—sudden storms and long-term erosion alike.

Seawalls and the Environment

Not only does seawall construction help maintain your property, it also helps to manage the ecosystems of rivers and lakes. As someone who loves spending time on the water, you know how important it is to maintain the health of our waterways and preserve them for the enjoyment of our children.

Runoff from rain gutters and other structures can be very detrimental to a body of water. Over time, man-made chemicals such as fertilizer can cause the composition of a water system to change—often for the worse. In addition to runoff, flash floods and heavy rains can cause water saturated with potentially harmful material to flow into a body of water.

Seawalls not only help protect the shoreline from erosion, they also help protect the quality of our waterways.

Different Types of Seawalls

Seawall construction varies based on aesthetic preference, boating traffic, and environmental factors. While one type of seawall may excel in certain areas, another type may be more appropriate for a different shoreline. There are three main types of seawalls you should consider.


Steel seawalls are especially effective in freshwater environments. They’re the most popular option for seawall construction. They do an excellent job to prevent erosion and shoreline destruction from excessive boat wake or adverse weather conditions.

A foundation comprised of 7- and 5-gauge steel creates a robust structure that is resilient against potential shoreline destruction. Behind the steel wall, a filling of medium-sized rocks covered in soil allows for optimum drainage. That way, your land behind the seawall doesn’t become a swampy mess.

Simple, sturdy, and effective, this variety of seawall is a solid choice for safeguarding your shoreline.


Outcropping is a great way to improve a shoreline’s resistance to the elements without sacrificing its natural aesthetic appeal. It offers excellent protection in a broad variety of visual styles.

Because of the nature of these shoreline barriers, a lot of creativity can be used during seawall construction. Outcropping is generally made from heavy, solid stones that have a unique and irregular shape to them. Details like size and thickness vary based on visual preference and the conditions of the lake or river your shoreline is bordering.

Rip Rap

Similar in many ways to outcropping, rip rap utilizes shot rock or rubble to maintain the health of a shoreline. Organically sourced material helps manage the natural course of erosion along the shore.

Smaller 3” to 6” varieties of rip rap are typically implemented along the shores of smaller bodies of water as well as larger lakes with marginal wake activity. A secure filter fabric prevents the erosion of existing soil underneath the newly laid stone in both outcropping and rip rap seawalls.

Which Seawall is Right for You?

We hope that you’ve come to appreciate the importance of seawalls for anyone that owns waterfront property. Whether you’re on a highly-trafficked lake or a quiet and winding river, protecting your shoreline is the smart and responsible thing to do.

Our partners at Seawalls Unlimited have spent 15 years mastering the art of seawall construction in McHenry, IL, and offer a full package of services including installation and repair. Visit their website today to request a free quote and a member of their team will call you to discuss your project!

Happy boating!