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Coastal Gardens

Updated on August 22, 2014

Creating and Maintaining a Seaside / Coastal Garden

I love the coast and the sea. I could sit for hours watching the waves or wandering around taking photos of the seashore or plants on the seashore. My dream is to one day have a house with a garden near the beach. But having a garden on coast has its own set of challenges.

Beautiful coastal garden

photo © GonnaFly.

The coastal garden faces several problems that most other gardens do not. There may be strong winds which can buffet or even scorch the foliage of plants. These winds are also often salt-laden which many plants will not tolerate.

There are advantages with the seaside garden too. Being close to the water has a moderating effect on the temperature so that summer days are not so hot and winter days are not so cold.

Some other characteristics of seaside gardens may have either a positive or negative effect depending on where you are in the country. The soil near the sea is also often sandy which means that any water drains away very quickly. You may also find that sunlight reflecting off the water may contribute to higher light levels.

Photos of Coastal Gardens - Photos from some of my beach visits to whet your appetite - click picture to enlarge

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Introducing a Seaside Garden

Take a three and a half minute tour of a delightful seaside garden and get some great tips. This garden is in Australia but these ideas will apply to wherever you live. For example plant choice is very important and growing plants which are native to your area is a great idea.

Getting Started

Improving Your Soil

Sandy soil dries out a lot quicker than other soils because any water can easily drain away. To prevent this, you could add water retention granules to the soil. Adding organic matter (such as compost or well-rotted manure) to the soil will also improve its water retaining ability. This has the added benefit of adding nutrients which otherwise have a tendency to washed out of sandy soil.

On the positive side, sandy soil tends to warm up more quickly in the spring, allowing for earlier planting of your annuals.

Plants for a Coastal Garden

Photos of Beautiful Coastal Plants - some of my photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
red bellsnasturtiumpig facealoeneedle-like leavesneedle-like leavesyellow flowers
red bells
red bells
nasturtium
nasturtium
pig face
pig face
aloe
aloe
needle-like leaves
needle-like leaves
needle-like leaves
needle-like leaves
yellow flowers
yellow flowers

Choosing Plants for a Coastal Garden

coastal flowers - aloe
coastal flowers - aloe

Photo © Copyright GonnaFly

You will need to choose hardy plants for your seaside garden. In general plants with shiny, tough, and leathery leaves will be more likely to be able resist salt. Hairy foliage will act as a moisture trap to counteract the drying winds. The shape of the leaves will also affect the plant's ability to survive in this windy environment. Narrow leaves allow the wind to blow through without doing too much damage. A waxy coating on leaves enables them to retain moisture and minimizes the entry of salt.

Look at other plants which are thriving in the nearby surroundings, particularly any plants native to your area. These will likely do well in your garden too.

Following is a list of plants which are more likely to do well in coastal areas.

White Flowering Plants for Coastal Regions

The heath aster has white daisy-like flowers with yellow centers in the Fall. More information at Royal Horticultural Society.

The yarrow pearl is a variety of the hardy yarrow with double white flowers in Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society

The white jupiters beard has clusters of small, white, trumpet-shaped flowers in Spring and Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society

Red Flowering Plants for Seaside Gardens

The hollyhock has red, white, pink, purple, or yellow flowers in Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society.

The Maltese Cross has red flowers in Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society.

The Crocosmia has spikes of red, funnel-shaped flowers in Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society.

Yellow Flowering Plants

The Sedum Spathulifolium has yellow flowers in Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society

The Euphorbia (cushion spurge) has yellow flowers in Spring and Summer. More information at Royal Horticultural Society

Plant groupings of plants

Notice the repetition of plantings in this stunning seaside garden. The gardener told me that he had been living here (right on the coast) for two years and it had been a bit of trial and error to find which plants were successful. So when you find what grows in your area, feel free to plant several of the same plants. Don't be afraid of repetition. A grouping or line of similar plants can be very effective.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Garden seat by the beach

Garden seat by the beach
Garden seat by the beach

Looking After Your Seaside Garden

garden windbreak
garden windbreak

Protecting Your Plants Against Wind

A wind barrier is a good idea to protect your plants. But don't get a solid barrier. A barrier which allows some of the wind through will lessen the impact of the wind and deflect it rather than creating eddies which may do damage to the plants you are trying to protect. See this information about windbreaks (if you scroll down a little you'll see a diagram).

Seaside hedges and trees will make a great windbreak but if you do not have the room or the time to wait for these plants to mature, you could use a sturdy trellis, a picket fence, or some bamboo fencing. You could plant a big quick-growing plant next to a slower growing plant. That way you get the protection from the quick-grower, and even if it only lives for several years, this will give the slower-grower time to grow.

Picture credit: sturdy trellis to act as a windbreak.

Protect Your Soil from Drying Out

A covering of mulch will serve as a barrier for weeds and also protect the soil from drying out quicker in the wind. You could use a pebble mulch, which would look quite the part in a coastal garden. But I would prefer using a mulch which breaks down because it will make it so much easier to add extra compost and manure to improve the soil underneath. One such mulch, which is often freely available, is seaweed which has had all the salt washed off it.

A drip irrigation system would also be helpful to ensure a controlled, regular watering for your garden.

DIG GE200 Drip & Micro Sprinkler Kit
DIG GE200 Drip & Micro Sprinkler Kit

covers up to 700 square feet of garden

 

Add Nutrients to your Soil

The nutrients in sandy soil tend to get leached away pretty quickly. Adding compost to the soil is very beneficial. I recommend making your own compost. It's so easy and it makes use of your own green waste.

Also available in 12 cubic foot size

see the compost bin in action

Do you have any suggestions for a coastal garden?

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    • profile image

      angelatvs 3 years ago

      I'd love to have a seaside garden. Guess I have to move closer to the beach!

    • websitescolumbu profile image

      websitescolumbu 4 years ago

      This lens had a lot of great information. Thank you.

    • profile image

      KyraB 4 years ago

      They are so beautiful!

    • accfuller profile image

      accfuller 4 years ago

      These are beautiful! Only wish that I had waterfront property! I gave you a squid-like and a g+1 ... :)

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 4 years ago from USA

      Wow, nice lens. I would LOVE to have a reason to plant a coastal garden...like living by a coast, for example.

    • profile image

      ajmac 4 years ago

      Beautiful pictures.Great lens.Thanks for the share.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      A nursery in Gleneden Beach would have all the answers for Oregon coast gardening. It is called Blake's Coastal Nursery. They only cater to people trying to grow a garden on the coast. It is tremendous. Love this lens!

    • profile image

      crstnblue 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens and photos... made me feel like being in holiday : ))

    • profile image

      liny-tan 4 years ago

      not really because i don't live near the seaside. pics looks so nice and it gives me a hint how to make a seaside garden in the near future.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Wooowwww...great lens...

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      This is wonderful. Wish I lived next to the sea so I could have my very own coastal garden! :)

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      Lovely seaside gardens!!

    • profile image

      Drengur 4 years ago

      We live on the other side of the planet in Iceland, by the sea, we also go the way of cultivating domestic plants and trees in our garden. Very nice lens.

    • pyngthyngs profile image

      pyngthyngs 4 years ago

      I don't know if the salt and wind have anything to do with it but coastal plants seem so hardy and beautiful.

    • profile image

      ericsdorsey 4 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing.

    • shane85 lm profile image

      shane85 lm 4 years ago

      Great lens. I live by a very stormy coast in Ireland and I can hardly grow grass!!!

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I don't live near the coast but I loved your pictures of the gardens

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image

      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      Very inspirational! I live on an island and gardening here is much different from that of the prairies. I love gardening here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for your ideas. We live by the coast and always struggle to find plants that will thrive.

    • RitaAnne profile image

      RitaAnne 4 years ago

      Love your photos of beautiful coastal plants... it's just beautiful :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great ideas.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      You have inspired me to leave the computer and go walk about the coastal gardens I have around me!

    • absolutelycreat profile image

      absolutelycreat 4 years ago

      Beautiful photos view! Nice lens. I can sit and watch this all day.

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Congrats for your purple star! Your lens is gorgeous! Thanks!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      You have done this right - lots and lots of photos. Thank you.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi very pretty plants, thanks for sharing.

    • yonique88 profile image

      yonique88 4 years ago

      I really love the photos. They are so beautiful. The tip about improving the soil if you live near the coast I found very helpful since I live near the sea coast, and the soil is very sandy here.

    • Juliusdog profile image

      Juliusdog 4 years ago

      wonderful pictures

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      Love those red bells. Great page.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Beautiful lens - LOVED the photos! I, like you, dream of a coastal home someday! Congrats on the well-deserved Purple Star and Home Page honors!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      No suggestion sorry, I have never lived on the coast, but I could imagine, that the drying winds and salt spray would be quite a challenge for some plants. Thanks for sharing your beautiful garden with us, I loved looking at it.

    • profile image

      fifinn 4 years ago

      No.

      indeed it would be nice having a garden in front of the house near the beach.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      What a great lens! It's amazing how many different plants grow on the coastline..I remember going to the Beaches in California, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Hawaii and was amazed at the different plants that grew there

    • SmokeybonesJr profile image

      SmokeybonesJr 4 years ago

      Very nice lens. Thank You...

    • mcajaclyn profile image

      mcajaclyn 4 years ago

      Wow beautiful pictures. There was one that looked like my hometown, have you ever been to Gloucester Massachusetts. I must say I am a lucky girl for living in such a beautiful coastal town:) The summers are wonderful and on hot nights we can go to the beach or walk the water on the boulevard. Great Lense

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      I live right beside the sea but unfortunately I don't have a garden. I do have a little balcony so you've inspired me to make the most of some containers there.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      No suggestions, but your lens is beautiful. Pinned.

    • profile image

      webscribbler 4 years ago

      We found that some things grow in sandy soil like weeds. It was amazing how fast flowers, bushes and even trees would grow. We were about 40 miles inland, so for the most part, unless there was a nasty hurricane, we didn't have too many issues with salt. Don't know about Australia but one of the most lovely plants we had was pampas grass. It had these great flumes of fuzzy seed heads that looked like wispy brooms. However, if you're not ready for it to spread to about 6-8 across, don't plant it - it's like impossible to kill. lol

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 4 years ago

      Such beautiful scenery! Congratulations on the Purple Star!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Often, the sea water reaches the front of our beach place so we can only have plants at the back. We put the plant in a big container with good soil before burying it. We have grown some trees that are really native there with more success.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      Wow! You've covered a lot of information already. I grew up in a home that was very close to the cliff tops. My mum grew everything from banana palms to radish. She never out ruled anything on the basis of our location. She always made her own compost so the health of the soil may have won over the wind and seaspray. Lovely lens BTW. :)

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I'm jealous of that view! Great photos and landscaping.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 4 years ago from Somewhere in England

      It depends so much on where the coastal garden is, but someone once told me the best strategy was to see what grows wild and encourage that. I'd like a garden on the west coast of Scotland.

    • profile image

      trishafly 4 years ago

      Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      @GardenerDon: you can still plant these flowers in your garden :) and take the tips on how to enrich your soil!

    • profile image

      topbuilderlist 4 years ago

      This is my dream to enjoy the moments of feelings while sitting besides coastal garden.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these ideas on Creating a Seaside or Coastal Garden, Its very interesting and nicely done. Congratulations on getting the Purple Star for this wonderful lens.

      The photos are really awesome!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wonderfully put together coastal gardens! Thank you for sharing it with us! I am somewhat of a garden nut myself....

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      These pictures are lovely! At our family beach house, there are lots of oleander bushes. They've been there for decades, are low-maintenance, and are very happy. We live on the coast of South Carolina.

    • bethann21 profile image

      bethann21 4 years ago

      Really nice pics for California costal!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Beautiful Images.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      You've covered so many beautiful garden spots. I'll second nasturtiums for being a good bet.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Wow, this is a beautiful lens. Thanks!

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      Loved your page, but sadly not really applicable to where I garden - about 1200 miles to the nearest coast!

    • profile image

      jura 4 years ago

      It is taking a lot of effort to grow enything on a coast the photos are great i would love to have one of this gardens.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Beautiful photos. Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed it.

    • Ana Dilber profile image

      Ana Dilber 4 years ago

      These are great gardens. Wish I can visit these... I do not live anywhere near coast.

    • chocochipchip profile image

      chocochipchip 4 years ago

      Photos of nature are always fascinating

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Beautiful coastal gardens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens! Thank you for the great tips. I look forward to the future series about coastal gardening.

    • profile image

      Bartukas 4 years ago

      Lovely lens i love the photos! thanks for sharing

    • Radcliff LM profile image

      Radcliff LM 4 years ago

      I love the succulents. We have a lot of sea grape by the water over here on the Gulf Coast. Thanks for sharing your photos!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is absolutely gorgeous.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 4 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! Don't know much about coastal gardens, now I know more. Enjoyed reading your lens :)

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 4 years ago from Connecticut

      Gardening at our beach house is limited to containers, but we still manage to grow several varieties of herbs, veggies and annuals.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      Somewhere I read that Rosa rugosa will do well in coastal areas.

    • davidtrust profile image

      davidtrust 4 years ago

      Great lens! Love the pics!

    • JohnSmith86 profile image

      JohnSmith86 4 years ago

      Wish I have a garden like this picture, nice lense

    • stephen downing profile image

      stephen downing 4 years ago

      Brilliant lens, the only suggestion I can make is to add a module on sea or coast related garden accessories. Such as an old rowing boat planter (as shown in your pic.) Old fishing nets draped or used as shading, hammock, etc, and old lobster pots. Might even let you use an e-bay module as well.

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens. Thanks for sharing.