Levi Reeves - May 5, 2023

Shoreline Fabric & Why You Need It

Shoreline fabric is a specially designed material used to protect the shorelines of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and oceans. It is an innovative and effective solution to prevent erosion and degradation of the shoreline, which is a common problem faced by waterfront property owners.

This fabric provides a barrier between the water and the shoreline. Without such protection, waves and currents can cause significant damage, leading to loss of land, diminished water quality, and negative impacts on aquatic habitats. Shoreline fabric acts as a buffer, absorbing the energy from waves and currents and preventing them from causing harm to the shoreline and adjacent areas.

In addition to its protective function, rip rap fabric is also known to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the waterfront. It can blend in with the natural surroundings and create an attractive and sustainable landscape.

Shoreline Fabric under rip rap

Quick Summary

What is it?
Shoreline Fabric is a thicker and stronger type of geotextile fabric used under rip rap to help prevent erosion along shorelines.

Why use it?
The Fabric helps keep the top soil in place, provides a separation between the rip-rap and soil and is highly permeable.

How to install it?
Clear the area, grade the soil, roll out the fabric and secure it down, and then cover with rip rap or large rocks.

What is Shoreline Fabric?

Shoreline fabric, also known as rip rap fabric or shore protection fabric, is a type of geotextile material designed to prevent erosion and degradation of shorelines. The construction of these shorelines fabric is such that are permeable to water but protect the shoreline from waves and currents.

Geotextile fabrics are flexible, and easy to install. Moreover, the fabrics are long-lasting and durable. There are several types of  fabric available, each with its own specific characteristics and uses. The most common types include:

  • Woven: This type of fabric is made by weaving synthetic fibers together to create a strong and durable material. Woven fabric is commonly used in areas with high wave energy and heavy traffic, as it provides superior strength and stability.
  • Non-Woven: Non-woven fabric is made by bonding synthetic fibers together using heat and pressure. This creates a strong and durable material that is resistant to erosion and degradation. Non-woven fabrics are the primary option used due to their superior drainage capabilities.
  • Biodegradable: This type of fabric is made from natural fibers that break down over time, leaving behind no harmful residues. Biodegradable fabric is commonly used in environmentally sensitive areas where traditional shoreline protection methods may not be suitable.
Erosion Control on Beach

Boulders on Beach for Erosion Control

The material of construction of erosion control fabric is either polypropylene, polyester, nylon or sometimes blend of these.

Fabric for Below Riprap

Looking for an ultra heavy duty non woven geotextile for placement underneath jagged rock or gravel? Weighing in at 12 oz / sq. yd. this fabric is reinforced for the most rugged environments. Its one of the heaviest fabrics that we offer and perfect for placing underneath access roads on construction sites or under shoreline rock.

View our Heavy-Duty Riprap Fabric
Erosion Issues on Stream

Eroding Stream Area

Benefits of Using Shoreline Fabric

These fabrics offer several benefits to waterfront property owners, aquatic habitats, and the environment as a whole. In this section, we will discuss some of the primary benefits of using rip rap fabric.

1. Erosion Control and Prevention: The primary function of rip rap fabric is to prevent erosion and degradation of the shoreline. By providing a barrier between the water and the shoreline, nonwoven fabric absorbs the energy from waves and currents, reducing their erosive force. This helps to prevent loss of land, protect existing structures, and maintain the stability of the shoreline.

2. Protection of Aquatic Habitats: Healthy aquatic habitats are essential for maintaining a thriving ecosystem. Nonwoven fabric provides a protective buffer between the water and the shoreline, reducing the impacts of wave action on aquatic habitats such as wetlands and fish spawning areas.

3. Improved Water Quality: Nonwoven fabric also helps to improve water quality by preventing sediment and other pollutants from entering the water. As water flows over the fabric, it is filtered and cleansed, removing harmful pollutants and improving overall water quality.

How to Use Shoreline Fabric

Rip rap fabric is a versatile and effective solution for protecting shorelines from erosion and degradation. However, to ensure its proper function and longevity, it is essential to use and maintain it correctly. In this section, we will provide guidance on how to use nonwoven fabric effectively.

1. Preparation and Planning: Before installing rip rap fabric, it is essential to prepare the site and plan the installation process. This involves assessing the site conditions, including soil type, water level, and wave energy, and choosing the appropriate type of rip rap fabric.

2. Installation Process: The installation process for the fabric varies depending on the type of fabric and the site conditions. However, the following general steps are typically involved:

Shoreline Erosion Control with Rocks

Large Rocks used on Shoreline Fabric

Boulders Along Shoreline

Shoreline with Boulders

  • Clear the area of any debris, vegetation, or other obstructions.
  • Excavate a trench along the shoreline to install the fabric in it.
  • Place a layer of geotextile fabric on the bottom of the trench to prevent soil erosion and maintain stability.
  • Install the fabric according to the manufacturer's instructions, ensuring that it is securely anchored and stretched taut.
  • Backfill the trench with soil or gravel or rip rap, compacting it to provide stability.
  • Finish the surface with vegetation, mulch, or other landscaping materials.

3. Maintenance and Upkeep: To ensure the proper function and longevity of nonwoven fabric, it is essential to perform regular maintenance and upkeep. This includes:

  • Inspecting the fabric regularly for signs of damage, wear, or erosion.
  • Repairing any damage promptly to prevent further degradation.
  • Maintaining proper vegetation cover to prevent erosion and stabilize the shoreline.
  • Cleaning the fabric periodically to remove any debris or sediment that may accumulate on its surface.
Man Fishing into Bay

Fisher Sitting on Rock at the Bay

Mountain River

River Flowing in Mountain Area

Factors to Consider when Choosing Shoreline Fabric

When selecting rip rap fabric, several factors need to be taken into account to ensure that the fabric is suitable for the specific site conditions and project goals. Ignoring any of these factors can lead to ineffective or even detrimental outcomes. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a fabric:

1. Soil type and water level: The fabric's durability and effectiveness depend on the soil type, whether it is sandy or clay, and the water level of the site.

Inappropriate fabric selection for the soil type can lead to failure, while inappropriate fabric for the water level can lead to damage and instability. Most shorline installations rely on a non-woven geotextile fabric ranging from 10-16 oz in weight.

2. Climate and weather conditions: If the site experiences high winds, strong waves, or heavy rainfall, a more robust and durable fabric may be needed to provide adequate protection against erosion and other environmental impacts. In these types of environments the 12 - 16 oz weighted nonwoven fabric is often a more appropriate choice due to the increased strength and durability.

Neglecting the impact of weather conditions can cause the fabric to deteriorate faster than expected and fail to perform its function effectively.

These factors are very important because if the soil type and water level are not appropriately considered, the fabric may not provide adequate protection against erosion, leading to further degradation of the shoreline.

Similarly, neglecting the impact of weather conditions can result in the fabric deteriorating faster than expected, leading to additional costs in repairs and replacements.

Rip Rap Fabric

Texture of Rip Rap Fabric

Placing Rip Rap on Fabric

Machine Placing Boulders For Rip Rap

Challenges and Limitations of Shoreline Fabric

While rip rap fabric can offer significant benefits for protecting shorelines, there are also some challenges and limitations to consider. Here are some of the most common challenges and limitations of using this type of fabric:

  • Longevity and durability: This fabric is subject to wear and tear from environmental factors such as waves, wind, and sunlight. Over time, the fabric can become weakened, leading to a reduction in its effectiveness.
  • Potential for damage and erosion: In some cases, the fabric can become damaged or eroded, leading to gaps in the barrier that can allow water to penetrate and cause further erosion.
  • Compatibility with other shoreline structures: The fabric may not be compatible with other shoreline structures, such as bulkheads or seawalls. In some cases, the installation of rip rap fabric may require modifications to other shoreline structures to ensure compatibility.

In conclusion, rip rap fabric is a crucial component in protecting shorelines from erosion and preserving aquatic habitats. By choosing the right type of fabric for a specific project, shoreline managers and property owners can achieve optimal erosion control, water quality improvement, and enhanced aesthetics. It's essential to consider factors such as soil type, water level, climate and weather conditions, budget, and aesthetics when choosing the right fabric for a project.