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Guide to Coastal Erosion: Prep and Prevention

Coastal erosion is a natural process. Over time, wind, sand, and water slowly wear away at the coastline. Human action affecting natural vegetation and wildlife can speed up erosion.

No matter the cause of erosion, the results can be devastating and financially burdensome, especially for homeowners with coastal properties.

Familiarizing yourself with your area and understanding your risk is the first step in preparing for and preventing erosion. In our guide to coastal erosion, you’ll find tips to mitigate the effects of coastal erosion in your area.

1. Add Physical Barriers to Prevent Erosion

One of the most effective ways to protect an area from erosion is to protect the land from the elements wearing it away. This can be done offshore and on the shore with objects meant to block wind and water from reaching the land. Below are a few examples:

  • Permanent barriers, such as breakwaters, sit offshore. They slow the momentum of the waves, so they are less destructive when they hit the shore.
  • Nets are a softer, less costly barrier. They hold things like rocks and vegetation in place, helping maintain the shoreline’s shape and boundaries.
  • Some communities promote initiatives to deposit Christmas trees at the shoreline, mitigating erosion using organic materials that otherwise would be thrown away.

2. Build Retaining Walls to Protect Land

Retaining walls are another permanent structure that protects property from areas susceptible to erosion. These walls add structure to land with steep drop-offs and provide a barrier of protection from the elements.

While effective, this option does not support the growth of erosion-preventing flora and fauna in the area.

3. Lay Sandbags to Block Wind and Water

Sandbagging is a standard short-term method of erosion control. For sandbagging to be effective, many bags must be stacked together to protect the land.

Sandbags are typically used in areas prone to high flooding or wind damage. Many individuals or communities lay sandbags around and over walls. This method is effective in the short-term, like before a big storm, but it’s not a viable long-term solution.

4. Proactive Beach Nourishment

Beach nourishment involves adding to beaches –– especially beaches with high traffic. This method widens the beach area, putting more space between the ocean and residential areas and lessening the impact of erosion on populated areas.

Beach nourishment prevents adverse effects of erosion through proper long-term management. It won’t stop erosion altogether but creates predictability and sustainable erosion management.

As communities consider beach nourishment, they must remember that the sand that’s washed away must go somewhere. Large buildups from this sand can cause problems or blockages in smaller waterways.

5. Cultivate and Nurture Living Shorelines

Living shorelines are one of the most practical, visually pleasing, and environmentally friendly erosion prevention methods. Cultivating a living shoreline involves planting and revegetating along the coastline in very sandy areas.

While most other erosion prevention methods attempt to compensate for the unstable and inconsistent nature of sand at the coast, adding plants improves the stability. It also serves to break waves which slows the effects of erosion and creates habitats for native animals.

6. Anchor or Lift Your Home

Coastal erosion is inevitable in some parts of the United States. Homes in these vulnerable communities are susceptible to flooding if no precautions are taken.

The best way to prepare and protect your home in coastal communities is to ensure it is secure and out of harm’s way. Lift your home’s foundation so the living area is elevated above expected flood levels. Securing services from a structural contractor to lift your home can prevent flood damage and restore peace of mind.

If you live closer to the coastline or in a frequent flooding area, your house’s foundation could be washed away if it is not strong or high enough.

7. Relocate Your Home to a New, Safer Site

Studies estimate that recession rates at the coast average about 25 feet per year in some areas. Despite the best efforts to slow down erosion, it is a natural process that will continue.

Suppose you live right on the water or in another high-risk area. In that case, it is recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that you speak with a professional to relocate your home away from the coastline to reduce your home’s risk for flooding or collapse.

Structural relocation is the most effective step you can take to protect your home, valuables, and loved ones from the devastating effects of coastal erosion.


Erosion is destructive and can have irreversible effects on your home or property. By proactively preparing for and mitigating coastal erosion, communities and individuals can protect their property from the unthinkable.

Talk to the professionals at DeVooght House Lifters today to evaluate your risk, devise a plan, and ensure you’re not building your home on sinking sand.

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