Homeowner Finds Way to Slow Beach Erosion

Jim Schlick liked the results on his Lake Panorama beach so much, he recently used the GEOWEB material and larger rocks for a landscaping project at his Ames home. Jim Schlick is shown on the renovated beach he installed at the family’s home in Horseshoe Cove. After building a “false floor” for the beach, construction socks filled with recycled tire chips were installed between the water and the beach. Schlick says lining the wall around the beach with river rock helps slow rainwater runoff.

By Susan Thompson

It’s not often someone calls me with a story idea. But such was the case with Jim Schlick, who has owned a waterfront home in Horseshoe Cove for eight years. He called recently because he wanted to share with other Lake Panorama property owners how he keeps sand on his beach, rather than letting it wash away. So I went to investigate.

Schlick, his wife Trisha, and their children Keira and Luke live in Ames full-time. They looked at Clear Lake properties for a couple of years, but didn’t like how close the waterfront homes are to each other. Friends told them about Lake Panorama, and they soon found a home with lots of room to spread out.

“We love Lake Panorama. We get here three weekends a month in the summer, plus spend two full weeks each summer. There’s nice activity on the weekends, and we have the lake to ourselves on weekdays,” Schlick says. “The kids love to water ski and tube. We play golf at the Panorama West course, and enjoy the hiking trail there. We also enjoy visits during the winter months.”

But in the early years of their Lake Panorama homeownership, flooding took away the family’s sandy beach twice.    

“After seeing my beach wash away into the lake each spring, and having to spend hundreds of dollars to replace it every couple of years, I decided there had to be a better way,” Schlick says.

While running around a lake at the Ada Hayden Heritage Park in Ames, Schlick says he had an “epiphany” when he saw park workers replacing gravel at a boat ramp.

“But this time they weren't just replacing it to have it erode again during big rains,” Schlick says. “They were first laying down a rubber-like structure that is called GEOWEB. It comes flat, then folds out like an accordion. It forms diamond shaped ‘holders’ for gravel to be poured into. Each ‘holder’ has holes cut into the walls to let the water pass through. The gravel stays in place, while the water goes on its merry way.”

Schlick calls the GEOWEB technology “brilliant” and renovated his beach five years ago, using the technique he saw that day in Ames.

He had all the sand cleared from his beach area, down to the dirt. The GEOWEB was cut to fit the beach, then unfolded, stretched, and staked down with the rebar and plastic stakes provided. The material comes in various sizes. Schlick chose one that is three inches tall when unfolded.

Schlick filled the GEOWEB with pea gravel. “Regular gravel will work, but it might hurt the kids’ feet if they dig down too far while playing in the sand,” he says.

The next step is to place heavy felt over the top of the GEOWEB and pea gravel. Stake construction socks filled with recycled tire chips between the GEOWEB and the water, making sure the socks are snug so no one trips or hurts themselves. Stakes should be hidden on the bottom edge of the sock against the Geo Web.

Next fill in the beach with play sand to the desired depth. “The rain goes through the sand into the ‘false floor’ before traveling through the GEOWEB into the lake. You can also line the top of your beach retaining wall with river rock, which helps put the brakes on heavy rains,” he says.

What’s the final step? Schlick says to “sit back and enjoy. This worked for us, so I wanted to share, because I know it would work for others.”