Smith Mountain Lake Riprap for Shoreline Protection

Riprap for shoreline protection is a lake house necessity. The riprap on our shoreline was approximately 45 years old and needed replacing.

Smith Mountain Lake, VA home with shoreline in need of new riprap

Riprap for Shoreline Protection

Last winter the lake water levels stayed unusually high which made waves reaching the shoreline from boat traffic wash to the top of our riprap and sometimes over the top which caused soil erosion.

Even when we built our house in 2015, the riprap was showing its age. We built the dock when we purchased the land in about 2010.

Digging foundation for home at Smith Mountain Lake

What is Riprap?

Riprap, also known as rip rap, rip-rap, shot rock, rock armor, or rubble, is human-placed rock or other material used to armor shorelines, streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour and water, wave, or ice erosion.


Installing New Riprap on our Shoreline

We hired Jessie Arrington of AC Shoreline to do this project for us.

This is his contact information for anyone in the Smith Mountain Lake area of Virginia in need of riprap.

AC Shoreline business card Jesse Arrington

We were very pleased with Jesse’s work and would recommend him to anyone in need of riprap. This is not a sponsored post, but an unsolicited recommendation by me for a job well done.

We weren’t around when this job was done but our wonderful lake neighbors, Dana and Mike, snapped a few pictures for us.

Smith Mountain Lake shoreline getting new riprap installed

For this project, all equipment and supplies come in by barge which is great because it prevents damage to your yard.

Based on the contour of our land, Mr. SP and I believe that long ago the lake was at a higher level which created the drop in our yard. You also can see that trees grew along this old shoreline. What do you think?

Riprap installation at Smith Mountain Lake home

The backhoe was used to scrape our old riprap into the water which formed a base for the addition of the new riprap.

Then the shoreline was lined with heavy-duty plastic and the new riprap was installed.

The End Result

The new riprap makes our shoreline look so much better!

Riprap shoreline at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Now we don’t have to worry about high water levels causing soil erosion as our new riprap will protect our shoreline.

Smith Mountain Lake, VA home with riprap shoreline and flagpole with American flag

Our shoreline continues to the right of our home where the trees start.

Smith Mountain Lake, VA dock and shoreline with new riprap

We did not add new riprap to that section because the old riprap there was still doing its job; the trees in that area keep the soil from eroding; and because of the cost to include that section.

New riprap on the shoreline of a Smith Mountain Lake, VA home

The new riprap definitely improved the lakeside curb appeal of our home.

Lake House Before and After Lake View

Steps in our Riprap

Not only did Jesse make our shoreline look great, he also incorporated steps into the riprap for Sherman and humans to use. Can you see them?

Since our house is built on the side of a mountain (Smith Mountain Lake), our driveway slopes downhill sharply making it necessary for a riprap drainage ditch from the top of the driveway to the shoreline. See the details of that project in this post.

Riprap drainage and riprap shoreline in front of a home at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

If you couldn’t see the steps in the riprap, look below the flagpole.

Shoreline in front of a Smith Mountain Lake home with new riprap

Sherman has a hip and knee problem and in recent years has not jumped off of our dock and swam to shore like he did when he was a youngster. We believe he stopped jumping in because he had difficulty climbing out of the water over the old riprap.

Our sweet Sherman can be a very timid little boy at times, so Mr. SP had to train him to use his new steps.

Riprap shoreline with stairs built-in. Dog drinking water from the lake with a human watching.

He still hasn’t used his steps to swim from our dock to the shoreline but he now frequently uses them to get a drink of water.

Here he is walking down his steps after a long boat ride.

Dog using steps built into a riprap shoreline at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

The steps make it so easy for him to get a drink of water.

Dog drinking water using steps built into a riprap shoreline at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

We plan to add sand and gravel to the riprap that is underwater to make it easy for him to either get into or out of the water from his steps. This will also be helpful for humans who may want to use the steps.

Dog drinking water using stairs built into riprap shoreline at Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Riprap for shoreline protection was an investment that we were happy to make for our lake home. Now our shoreline is protected for years to come from erosion.

House and Dock at SML


  1. Thanks for the recommendation! We desperately need rip rap. We are at the end of a cove, and the bank is steep. Facing our property, our shoreline is the shape of a candy cane. We have put off and put off getting an estimate because I’m sure we will just faint when we hear the number. I like the look of rip rap because it’s so neat and clean. We look like we don’t care. The weeds – the bamboo – the grasses – just a mess.

  2. What a difference for before and after and now the steps will help Sherman with getting to water again.
    Have a good week .

    1. Thank you, Laura! Since Sherman swims no matter the temperature, we hope that he’ll enjoy his steps year-round.


  3. Oh, Paula, that’s so AWESOME for Sherman! I didn’t even notice the steps until you pointed them out! Your contractor did a super job with the rip rap. I am totally familiar with that (ues, I bet your shoreline was as high as those tree stumps and change in grade before). We never rip rapped our riverbank, as we struggled with the natural/not natural appearance and cost associated with larger boulders as an alternative. Our neighbor to the east of us did rip rap, so it made a definite and abrupt change when viewing from across the river. Over time, though, the river rising, and silt residual make it look more natural. I must say, yours looks beautiful in its newly finished state! Speaking of state, ours is rip rapping an entire section of the north side of our river, and it has been ongoing for nearly a year in the section right outside our loft. In fact, I had to dodge the barge crane when I was taking pictures for my latest balcony tablescape, lol.

    1. I know you’ll be very happy when the state of WV finishes its river riprap project.

      Some of the older properties at the lake have stone walls instead of riprap and I love that look. I don’t think that Appalachian Electric Power would allow that type of look nowadays.


  4. Paula, it was good to see your post and the fixing of the new riprap. It looks good and really helps improve the shoreline from erosion. Love the steps you put in for Sherman, he’ll get the hang of it one of these days and be down there every time! It all looks really good, nice work done.

    1. Thank you, Lisa! We are thrilled with how it looks and Sherman appreciates how easy it is for him to get a cool drink of water.


    1. I am so glad that you were able to visit and that the weather cooperated so that we could enjoy the lake by water. Hoping you can visit again very soon!


  5. Very nice ! Sherman is so cute. I’m glad he has a way to get in and out of the lake again ! SLS

  6. Your improvement is really nice looking. I live on a lake (a city reservoir) with a man made bulkhead. I endeavor to ‘decorate’ the area down by the lake so that someone in a canoe, kayak, etc. will have something nice to look at as they pass by. By chance do you have a big wind chime in your boat house somewhere? I searched by could not see one. What a nice sound that would make on the lake. I find that I have to be very careful with the type of lawn and patio chairs I use by my lake site because the wind can blow them over or down the yard!!!! Do you have that issue?

    1. Hi, Virginia! We don’t have a windchime on our dock, deck, or patio. It would make a nice sound if we did have one. The chairs that we have on our dock are Adirondack ones that we made, so they are heavy and it would take violent wind to blow them into the water. I’m sure that the people passing your home by water appreciate the way you make your yard look. We certainly spend a lot of time cruising around in our boat at slow speeds admiring other people’s property.


  7. The steps are genius! I wouldn’t have thought the riprap looked bad until seeing the after picture! It’s like getting new shoes… then the old shoes look…. old. : )


  8. Everything looks beautiful, Paula!
    What a difference the new riprap makes to your shore line and it’s great that Sherman can get down to the water line.

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