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 Â© 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 enlargeClick 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.
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 photosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Choosing Plants for a Coastal Garden
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
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.
Garden seat by the beach
Looking After Your Seaside Garden
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.
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.