Rip Rap

Recently, Kirsten wrote a nice articleon the work that we did at the top tank overflow. It was great to see so much happen in 3 days. We did some plumbing, and a lot of digging, planting and stonework. I was mostly involved with the plumbing, and all the stonework … and my, did I enjoy it. In fact, by the end of the day, they started calling me the Stonework Queen! It is not surprising that Trevor, who is the true stone mason at Milkwood finds stonework highly addictive.

If that’s a case then, Milkwood is a red light zone for stonework addicts. There’s an endless supply of stones all around the place, and every time you think you’ve run out of stash, a new heap appears out of no where! Gabions, rock beds, retaining walls, rip rap … you name it, we’ve done it. They’re all fun to do, but ‘rip rap’is a personal favourite of mine, doesn’t it already sound so hip hop happenin? Here are  pictures of the rip rap that I helped to construct.

rip rap top tank

Rip rap slowing and absorbing the spill over from swales. Pic by Adam Shand

rip rap road side

Rip rap diverting road run off and slowing water down at a particularly washed out spot at the bottom of a slope. Pic by Adam Shand


In case you’re not familiar with the term, rip rapare broken stones (e.g. gravel stones/ shale) loosely placed in water, or exposed earth to provide a foundation and protect surfaces from scour.

before rip rap

A surface before rip rap. First picture shows after rip rap. Pic by Adam Shand

Riprap works by slowing down and minimising the impact of fast running water before it reaches the defended structure or surface. The size and mass of the riprap material absorbs the impact energy of bodies of water, while the gaps between the rocks trap and slow the flow of water, lessening its ability to erode soil or structures on the edges of swales, river banks, or coasts. The mass of riprap also provides protection against impact damage by ice or debris, which is particularly desirable for bridge supports and pilings.

Of course, there is most often a better alternative to rip rap, and that is to cover the surface of exposed soil with plants which will hold soil together and absorb water. However, if immediate intervention is needed, plants do not grow in a day; and moreover, a particular area may not be suited for plants … hence the rip rap.

I leave you with a song that I wrote about our rip rap experience at Milkwood. Hope you like it as much as I do 🙂


Rip Rap by Sabina Arokiam

(Adapted from ‘Splish Splash’ by Bobby Darin)

Splish, splash
raindrops falling on the ground
Long about a rainy spell… yeah!
Just relaxin’ in the shed
Thinkin’ everything was all rite.

Well… we stepped out of the shed
Started walkin’ the ground
Where the grass didn’t grow
Streams n’ gullies appeared.

And… then-a… splish, splash
We realised it ain’t rite
Water’s erodin’ bare ground
Takin’ an easy way out…

We was a seein’ and a readin’ (the landscape)
Reelin’ with the feelin’
Talkin and a plannin’
Rollin and a rockin’ … yeah!

Bing, bang
We got the whole gang
Squattin’ where the soil washed away… yeah…
Rip Rap
We was layin’ stones down
All the interns had the stonework bug.

There was Olipop with-a Ashey Lee
Good Golly, Mr. Juergey was-a even there, too!
A-well-a…. rip, rap
We were havin’ a ball
We had our homeys and our gloves on… yeah!

We was a rockin’ and a rollin’
Reelin’ with the feelin’
Movin’ and a groovin’
Rippin’ and a rappin’… yeah!

We was a rippin’ and a rappin’
We was a rockin’ and a rollin’ …woo!
Yeah… we was a movin’ and a groovin’ … ha!
We was a reelin’ with the feelin’… heyeyay!
We was a rockin’ and a rollin’
Rip, rap… yeah!

We was a rippin’ and a rappin’…
We was a rippin’ and a rappin’… woo!
We was a rippin’ and a-rappin’…


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