Lake Sinclair Seawall

With its pine tree neighbors and enviable spot overlooking Lake Sinclair, Jane Barnard had always loved the lot next door to her family home. Owned by her family for decades, there had been many plans made to restore it to its full glory over the years, but sadly life always got in the way. 


When Jane contacted us at the start of the year the site was an unruly jungle of weeds and vines, and the wooden seawall was dilapidated and crumbling from years of muskrat damage.

Before: Hidden Gem Potential


Despite its wild state, Jane and the team agreed the plot was bursting with potential. You can’t argue with that view! We conducted a thorough assessment, then met with Jane over homemade blueberry muffins (she’s a fantastic baker) to discuss exactly what the makeover should entail. 


The site presented several challenges, both in terms of design and geographic location. The seawall was too far gone to save, and we agreed that it would need to be completely replaced with a modern alternative. 


There was also a lot of vegetation to clear, and with around 40 feet of topographic relief to contend with, this would be no small task for the T.Lake team. Despite this, we set ourselves a two-week deadline to transform the plot into a lakeside haven and braced ourselves for the ensuing challenge. 


Against the Odds


The steep incline of the site made itself known at every stage of the installation. All 200 tons of material had to be transported down the 40-foot slope, which presented more than a truckload of challenges. To help navigate the incline we brought in a speciality clamp tool so we could move faster up and down the slope. We used a telehandler with a reach of 40-feet to access hard to reach spots, and carefully excavated rock in preparation for the build. 


The second challenge was the weather. It rained a lot over the two weeks we spent working on the lake plot. If you’ve ever walked down a hill when it’s wet you’ll understand the struggle. We had four inches of rain in the first week of the project, briefly halting work. Four more inches came the following week, turning the site into a mud bog. At several points, the temperature dropped below freezing, which mixed with 30 mph winds, made conditions on the lake bitterly cold. 


Luckily we had Jane on site, and she kept the team motivated with tomato pie and blueberries from the yard. Clients like her make it all the more worth it! Tim also provided chocolate chip cookies. A little sugar goes a long way. 


One Wall to Rule Them All 


Building the seawall was the biggest task of the renovation, with a lot of factors to consider in the design. Jane wanted a feature wall that would sit harmoniously in its natural setting, and look beautiful both from the house and the water. Of course, it also had to be practical, and tough enough to withstand bad weather and those pesky muskrats. 


We decided to create a modern segmental block wall, featuring a heavy gravel base to stop critters digging underneath and undermining the foundations. The segmental design consists of modular concrete blocks that lock together tightly, and are a robust, solid front against sloping soil faces and water. We designed our wall to be flexible, sturdy, and with excellent drainage, to avoid erosion or flooding during the wet and windy winter months. 


At 200-feet long and between 5-6 feet high, the wall required substantial amounts of gravel and stone! In total we used:


  • 100 tons of 57 stone gravel
  • 90 tons of riprap rock in 80ib blocks
  • Three layers of geogrid


When the structure was complete we wrapped it in a geotextile envelope to protect it from weed or water penetration. We also installed a classic staircase to provide direct access to the water. 

After: Lakeside Renewal


At the end of the project, Jane’s property had been transformed. Where the dilapidated wooden fence once stood was a strong, elegant stone barrier, which provides protection from the elements without infringing on its surroundings. This project demonstrates that walls don’t have to be barricaded to the natural world. The light grey stone feels harmonious with the lake, and the addition of the small staircase means Jane and the family can access the water seamlessly from the yard. 


Thank you to the project team for your skill and perseverance, and to Jane for allowing us to be part of this exciting new chapter! 

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