The Art of Creating a Coastal Garden

Creating a coastal garden requires a careful balance of hardy plants and a design that complements the natural landscape. Incorporating coastal-specific plants, textures, and colors can create a serene and beautiful space that embodies the seaside.

Understanding Coastal Climates

If you’re planning on creating a coastal garden, understanding the climate in your area is crucial to choosing the right plants and designing your landscape. Coastal climates can be challenging due to the high salt content in the air, strong winds, and fluctuating temperatures. However, with proper research and planning, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden by following these guidelines:

Factors to consider

1. Salt Tolerance

The ocean air contains high levels of salt that can damage some plant species. You’ll want to choose plants with a high salt tolerance so that they can thrive in this environment without dying or losing leaves.

2. Wind Resistance

Coastal areas often experience strong winds that can damage fragile plants or knock them over completely. Choose wind-resistant plants or make sure to plant them in sheltered areas.

3. Sun Exposure

Coastal gardens typically receive much more sun exposure than other areas due to the lack of trees and shrubs around them. You’ll want to choose plants that can handle full sun exposure and won’t wilt or become scorched.

4. Water Requirements

While coastal gardens may seem like they’d be well-watered thanks to the ocean nearby, most of the water is unusable due to its high salt content. Make sure you choose drought-tolerant plants and plan on supplementing their water needs with rainwater catchment systems or other irrigation methods.

5. Soil Type

Coastal soils are often sandy and nutrient-poor, requiring special fertilization techniques or soil amendments before planting.

Best Plants for Coastal Gardens

Now that you understand factors to consider when planting a coastal garden let’s look at some of the best plant species for this type of environment:

1.Prostrate Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

This woody herb has blue flowers which emit an unforgettable fragrance during blooming periods all year round. Its toughness makes it an excellent choice for coastal gardens.

2.Palm Trees (Palmae)

These tropical icons are a popular coastal garden choice because they’re salt-tolerant and wind-resistant. Certain species like California Fan Palm, Plan Thatch Palm, and Canary Island Date Palm are well suited for areas near the coast.

3.Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)

With striking orange/red tubular flowers capable of blooming all year long providing food for birds and beneficial insects. This plant is native to South Africa where it grows in arid conditions thus making it drought tolerant.

4.Lavender Herb: Lavandula spp

This herb is characterized by spikes of stunning purple/blue/pink colored flowers which emit heavenly scents that linger long after they are harvested, this undemanding shrub thrives as long as it’s planted in soil with good drainage.


With edible seeds and tall height makes sunflowers a great addition to any garden with many being drought resistant varieties like the Russian Sunflower, also known as Tithonia which can grow up to six feet tall!

These plants not only add life and color to your coastal garden but will also thrive through the tough environmental conditions that come along with living so close to the ocean.

Coastal gardening requires careful consideration when choosing plants due to harsh weather changes and high levels of salt exposure but there is no denying that such gardens can be truly mesmerizing.

By selecting plants that have adapted abilities to survive under tough conditions, along with the careful placement of them using other plant types for shelter you’ll find yourself proud of your lush green space even on days when intense coastal storms push their way through.

What is Salt-tolerant plant?

A salt-tolerant plant is a plant species that can survive and grow in soil or water that contains high concentrations of salt. [Wikipedia]

Choosing the Right Plants

Coastal gardens are unique and require a thoughtful selection of plants that can withstand harsh weather conditions. When planning a coastal garden, you need to choose the right plants if you want them to thrive. Here are some tips on selecting plant varieties that will flourish

Native vs. non-native plants

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to opt for native or non-native plants in your garden.

Pros of native plants
  • Adaptability: Native plants have evolved over time to cope with local environmental conditions, which means they’re more adaptable and better suited to local soil types, rainfall levels, and microclimates. They also tend to be more resistant to pests and diseases in their natural habitat, which means they require less maintenance.
  • Ecosystem benefits: Some native species may provide added environmental benefits such as food and habitat for native wildlife. For example, planting suitable flowering shrubs like salvia has been scientifically shown to attract bees and other pollinators.
  • Aesthetics: You can create a lovely natural look by using readily available indigenous vegetation as it complements the coastal landscape effortlessly.
Pros of non-native plants
  • Extended flowering times: Many non-native species bloom continuously throughout summer when most natives may take a break during mid-summer due to high temperatures.
  • Vibrant colours: Non-natives bring an eclectic mix of colours that aren’t usually found in indigenous flora; shades of orange as seen with tagetes or hues of deep purples from verbena.

Drought-tolerant plants

Coastal areas may experience strong winds exposed sun rays during the day accompanied by cold nights, ensuring that choosing drought-tolerant varieties is critical.

Some popular choices include:

  • Agave americana – This blue-green agave makes an excellent focal point in any arid garden bed with spine-tip leaves arranged in a rosette form that can grow up to 10 feet wide.
  • Hesperaloe parviflora – A succulent reaching two to four feet high, featuring tall, thin spikes of pink-brown flowers in spring and fall. It is perfect for hot full sunspots.
  • Santolina chamaecyparissus – Also called cotton lavender or gray Santolina, this low evergreen shrub rarely exceeds one meter in height. It produces adorable yellow buttons during spring and summer when pruned regularly.
  • Yucca rigida – Characterized by distinctive blue-green sword-shaped leaves that rise from a massive central stem. This yucca grows less than two meters tall but requires ample room to flourish.

Do not be too hasty with your plant selection process as the right plants ensure successful gardening experience with plenty of plant growth even despite tough coastal weather patterns. Take your time researching every annual or perennial before planting them so you can make an informed decision that will guarantee their survival while thriving effortlessly in your coastal garden space.

Incorporating Water Features

If you’re looking to create a coastal garden, incorporating water features can be a great way to enhance its natural beauty and create a peaceful oasis. From the sound of babbling brooks to the movement of shimmering pools, water features can add both visual and auditory interest to your outdoor space.

When planning your coastal garden, consider incorporating one or more water features to create an inviting atmosphere. Here are some tips for choosing the right type of water feature and finding the best location for it in your garden.

Types of Water Features

There are many different types of water features you could choose for your coastal garden. Here are some popular options:

  • Fountains: Fountains come in all shapes and sizes, from tranquil wall-mounted designs to grand centerpieces with multiple tiers. They’re often found in traditional gardens but can be adapted to fit any style.

  • Ponds: A pond can provide a home for aquatic plants and creatures while also adding visual interest to your garden. Consider installing a waterfall or stream that empties into the pond for added drama.

  • Waterfalls/Streams: Small or large, waterfalls and streams add the calming sound of flowing water to your outdoor space. Whether it’s a rocky waterfall or simple spillway, these features are easy-to-install for those with DIY skills.

  • Reflecting Pools: Reflecting pools make great quiet retreats where you can reflect and relax surrounded by nature without getting wet!

  • Infinity/Mirror Pools: These pools have strong linear edges which help draw focus towards views beyond the pool or other focal points around them.

Best Locations for Water Features

When considering where to place your water feature in your coastal garden, keep in mind its surroundings as well as purpose, size and height. Here are some factors that may influence placement:

  • Consider placing a fountain at eye level near seating areas so you can enjoy the quiet sounds and create a calming effect.

  • If you’re looking to attract birds or wildlife, consider placing your water feature near birdfeeders or other nearby food sources. But remember to keep it cleaned regularly else there won’t be any critters!

  • Stream and waterfall features work well on slopes or as borders for gardens, breaking up space with sound and movement.

  • Place ponds near garden beds so they can reflect the surrounding plants both day and night.

  • Both Infinity/Mirror Pools are great for highlighting any stunning views of oceanic landscapes beyond them. As well as creating a dramatic echo of the scenery outside should it carry with it a beautiful skyline

    Whatever type of water feature you choose, make sure it complements its surroundings and enhances the overall design of your coastal garden.

Maintenance Tips for Water Features

Water features require regular maintenance to ensure they stay clean and functioning properly. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Regularly clean out debris such as leaves, branches, or dead plants that may clog your water feature’s system.

  • Use non-toxic algaecides if needed to prevent algae growth that occurs naturally but can make water murky & dirty-looking.

  • Inspect parts like nozzles, tubing & basin seals ensuring they dont have leaks that could lead to excessive water loss.

  • Most importantly is proper fabrication which using industry experts who know their craft equally saves repair costs over time while ensuring optimal efficiency during seasonal changes year-round.

Creating an attractive coastal garden is not complete without incorporating one or more beautiful water features able to maintain its charm throughout different times of day.

Creating a Focal Point

Creating a focal point in your coastal garden is crucial to achieve balance and visual interest. It draws the eye, creates depth, and adds personality to any outdoor space. Here are some tips on how to create an attractive focal point in your coastal garden:

Elements of a good focal point

  1. Size: A good focal point should be large enough to attract attention yet not too overwhelming that it takes away from other features of the garden.

  2. Location: Choose a spot where there is already natural traffic flow or somewhere that can be seen from different angles.

  3. Texture: Incorporate varying textures into the focal point, such as different plants with varying leaf shapes or hardscape elements like rocks or driftwood.

  4. Contrast: The focus should stand out from its surroundings both in texture and colour scheme.

  5. Lighting: Proper lighting can highlight the focus at night and make it more inviting for evening entertaining.

  6. Visual Interest: Consider adding unique pieces such as sculptures or fountains for added character.

Examples of focal points

  1. Water Feature – A water feature such as a pond, trickling stream, or bubbling fountain makes for an excellent focal point in any coastal garden.

  2. Outdoor Fireplace – An outdoor fireplace provides warmth during chilly evenings while also creating visual appeal during daytime hours.

  3. Garden Sculpture – Sculptures add elegance to any garden; they come in various materials including bronze, concrete, marble, stone, metal or wood that allows you to choose according to your desired style and budget preferences.

  4. Arbor/Archway – A beautiful arbor or archway marking your entrance walkway assures there is an inviting sense of arrival while framing the landscape beyond draws visitors up towards them giving them the impression they will enter another world”

  5. Raised Planter Box- Planters like raised planter boxes help define spaces whilst being visually appealing utilizing space and adding dimensional interest.

  6. Colorful Garden Shed – Adding a colourful shed or painting one in a bright colour like red or yellow adds visual interest to a garden especially with lush greenery surrounding it.

Incorporating Hardscape Elements

Incorporating hardscape elements is an essential part of creating a coastal garden. While softscape elements like plants and flowers create the ambiance, it’s hardscape that adds structure and visual interest to the landscape. Whether you’re designing a small area or large, hardscape materials should be chosen with care, and installed appropriately in order to help you create the perfect seaside oasis.

Examples of hardscape elements

There are various types of hardscaping materials suitable for coastal gardens, each one offering its benefits and appeal. Here are some examples:


Pavers provide stability, texture, and aesthetic appeal all at once. They come in different sizes and shapes such as travertine, brick pavers, limestone or flagstone. These materials are weather-resistant so that they can handle changing temperatures without breaking down over time.

Gravel Pathways

Gravel pathways offer an effortless beauty that blends nicely with other landscape features like stones or boulders. A naturalistic feel can be obtained if you go for unpaved gravel paths. Pebbles used here come in varying sizes from opalized quartz pebbles to smooth beachy pebbles which should be selected according to your preference.

Retaining walls

Retaining walls can help break up slope terrain transforming them into flat spaces while adding depth onto your space looks much desirable when done right making it seem bigger than it actually is; using neutral colors alone may result in a dull outlook hence herbaceous & blooming plants installation on retaining wall too would elevate its vivwith liveliness.


Boulders bring character to your garden while providing textural contrast between smoother plantings along with greenery dissimilarities especially when spotted on sandy beaches as they tend ro look natural They can be added individually or incorporated as groups called outcroppings or rock gardens, and they come in different shapes and sizes.

Pros and cons of hardscape elements

While hardscaping can provide varied benefits improve the layout of coastal gardens, it’s Important that one scrutiny on pros & cons likewise to note any potential drawbacks during installation so here are some things to consider:

  • Creates a sense of continuity linking house or space with yard
  • Adds property value by expanding outdoor living spaces
  • Low maintenance especially if using gravel pathways.
  • Hardscape materials can add color, texture, and pattern making garden looks visually appealing.
  • They’re weather-resistant; hence prone to be durable and long-lasting.
  • Higher installation cost compared to softscape due to material costs or labor expenses required for professional installations.

  • Improper installation may lead to erosion or damage surfaces over time thus making it necessary for frequent repairs too which could result in unexpected costs.

    Lack of adjustability: Hard scapes features remain static after being installed changing design layouts frequently might not be possible,

  • Hardscaping tends to retain heat more than softscape which may result in urban heat island effect increasing temperatures more often this should be considered when installing plants around aforementioned elements.

Enhancing Natural Features

If you’re considering creating a coastal garden, it’s important to take inspiration from the natural features of the area. Coastal gardens are unique in that they have to work alongside salt, sand, and wind exposure. However, by embracing these natural characteristics, you can create a beautiful garden space that complements its surroundings.

Making the most of views

One of the most compelling reasons for creating a coastal garden is to make the most of stunning coastal views. If your garden looks out onto the sea, consider how you can enhance this feature with clever planting and design choices:

  • Use plants at varying heights to create layers within your garden. This will help draw the eye towards different parts of your outdoor space.
  • Consider framing your view with shrubs or trees. You’ll still be able to enjoy the outlook without feeling as though it’s overwhelming your garden.
  • Use colors inspired by the sea to create harmony between your garden and its surroundings. Sea blues, teals, greys and greens will work particularly well.

Unfortunately, not every coastal home comes with stunning ocean views. If you’re not lucky enough to live directly on the water’s edge, don’t worry! There are plenty of other natural features in a coastal location that you can use as a base for your outdoor space.

Working with natural landscaping

Coastal landscapes often come with their own challenges – think sandy soil that drains quickly or exposed positions where plants struggle to thrive in windy conditions. However, these challenges don’t necessarily mean you should steer clear of gardening entirely! Instead:

  • Work with what nature has already given you: A rocky outcrop could become an attraction in its own right if planted up properly with trailing greenery or hardy succulents.
  • Pay attention to where sun falls across your plot – some hotter spots might suit Mediterranean planting schemes while cooler areas could be perfect for ferns or shade-loving perennials.
  • Build up your beds with enriching, organic matter like compost or seaweed to help hold moisture around the roots of newly-planted specimens.

Ultimately, coastal gardens are about embracing the natural features around you and finding ways to work with them to create something beautiful. With a little imagination and some hard work, it’s possible for anyone to create a stunning outdoor space that is unique to their home by the sea.

Balancing Function and Aesthetics

Creating the perfect coastal garden requires more than just planting pretty flowers. You need to balance function and aesthetics to make sure your garden is not only beautiful but also practical.

Tips for functional garden design

  1. Prioritize outdoor living spaces: Coastal gardens are meant to be enjoyed, so it’s important to create different areas for outdoor living. Consider adding a seating area or a dining nook so you can fully appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

  2. Choose plants wisely: Coastal weather conditions can be harsh, with plenty of sun, saltwater exposure, and strong winds. Choose plants that are native to the area as they will have evolved to withstand these conditions.

  3. Incorporate hardscaping elements: Balance out soft plantings with hard landscaping elements such as paths or patios made of stone, concrete or shells. These hardscaping elements help define the space and add structure while also being easy to maintain.

  4. Add shade structures: While sunshine is essential for a thriving garden, too much sun in a coastal climate can damage delicate plants and cause diseases like sunscald in fruit trees or leaf scorch in annuals such as begonias or petunias. Thus it is important to provide shading options like pergolas, trellises, umbrellas or shade sails.

  5. Use windbreaks: Strong ocean blasts of wind can make gardening difficult at times by damaging tender foliage and preventing pollinators from doing their job; thus consider using wind-breakers such as bushes, curtains etc around the desired areas.

  6. Create microclimates wherever necessary – certain parts of your coastal garden might receive less sunlight than others which could result in gentle cool breezes allowing ferns, shade-loving annuals to thrive. Similarly salt-laden winds could be kept away around corners with evergreen tall bushes.

  7. Embrace xeriscaping – Coastal regions are prone to drought in the summers, resulting in heat waves and lack of water. Choose plants that require minimal water once established – like native wildflowers or grassesetc.

Aesthetically pleasing design elements

  1. Water features: Infinity-edged pools, fountains or tiny ponds lend a cool and refreshing aura opening up ample opportunities for different varieties of aquatic plants and goldfish swimming among them thus creating an aura of tranquility

  2. Play with colors: Few color combinations capture the essence of a coastal garden more than blues and whites. Bleach-white sand coupled with deep blues reminds us of the ocean meeting the sky in the horizon. Other bright hues such as pinks, yellows, purples among others provide strong pops making it all colorful

  3. Incorporate hardscaping elements: Apart from just augmenting functionality, hardscaping can also add some stylish aesthetics; for example crushed shells trimmed borders alongside lying stones create nautical atmosphere; a pathway created by colourful pebbles snake through foliage or geometric shaped stepping stones adds both originality as well as style.

  4. Introduce sculptures: A unique way to jazz up your costal garden is to integrate art pieces ranging from iconic lighthouses, statues to even creating dunes out of wood chips .

  5. Create seating areas: Transform bare surfaces into serene spaces for relaxing times by placing benches amidst lush plantings along walkways creates cozy little nooks where you can read book under shaded treetops or chat while enjoying a sunset cocktail .

  6. Adorn archways: A rustic wooden gate beneath trees creates an inviting entrance leading to a scenic walkway covered in flowering vines offering breathtaking views

Balancing function and aesthetics in your coastal garden can be challenging, but it’s essential to make sure your garden not only looks beautiful but serves your needs throughout the year. Keep these tips in mind as you plan or refine your coastal oasis!

Choosing the Right Garden Accessories

When it comes to designing a coastal garden, choosing the right accessories can be just as important as selecting the perfect plants. Coastal gardens should reflect the beauty of the surrounding natural environment and incorporate both practical and decorative elements that can withstand harsh ocean weather conditions.

Best garden accessories for coastal gardens

  1. Wind chimes: As sea breezes rustle through them, wind chimes offer a relaxing noise that embodies the peacefulness of seaside living.
  2. Beach-themed décor: Enhance your garden by incorporating beach themes throughout your space. Instead of typical floral arrangements, focus on seashells or sea glass for unique centerpieces.
  3. Outdoor lighting: Living near a body of water typically means high humidity levels, which can make things like electrical wiring particularly challenging. There are many durable materials available which add an aesthetic appeal while also having practical functional benefits.
  4. Water Fountains: Many modern fountains are being produced from tough materials such as Granite stone or resin-based materials they blend in perfectly with any type of landscaping.

Accessories to avoid

  1. Wooden furniture: While wood may look nice initially, it just doesn’t last long enough in coastal environments when it’s exposed to daily elements over time such as saltwater sprays shine fade or lose its structural integrity quicker than other alternatives like plastic or metal making them less appealing (and often times impractical) options if you don’t want furniture pieces that need constant replacing.
  2. Too many ornaments: Although garden ornaments can be very pretty in small numbers, too much decoration could potentially create a cluttered look that would detract from your plantings and hardscaping elements instead let greenery take center stage
  3. . Delicate Flowers – The wind patterns are anything but predictable so strong winds and sea sprays won’t be kind to delicate flowers that would struggle to thrive under such conditions. Ideal plants and flowers for coastal gardens have sturdy tolerant leaves, stems and root systems that can bear up against sea breezes, salt sprays, sandy soils, too hot and too dry weather conditions.

Remember when designing your coastal garden staying true to the environment from which it is inspired is key – researching natural geological features of nearby coastlines or even consulting with local experts proves invaluable in developing an action plan for a stunning garden space. Adding personality through creative use of accents is great but also remember to always maintain balance between trends and remaining practical given the unique environmental challenges!

Designing the right garden in a costal area may seem challenging – but having botanical knowledge combined with aesthetic creativity able people truly create their own hallmarks… on par with the natural surrounding beauty.

Maintenance Tips for a Flourishing Coastal Garden

Maintaining a coastal garden comes with its own set of challenges. From salt sprays to high winds, the plants in your garden can be exposed to harsh conditions that make their growth and survival difficult. However, by following some maintenance tips, you can keep your coastal garden healthy and thriving all year round.

Soil maintenance

The soil in a coastal garden is vital for the health of your plants. Here are some ways to maintain healthy soil:

  • Amending soil: Over time, coastal soils may lose nutrients due to erosion, salt exposure or any other reason. Therefore, amending the soil every couple of months with compost or organic matter helps replenish the nutrients content.

  • Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around plants helps retain moisture hence reducing evaporation rate from the topsoil as well as suppressing weed growth.

  • Watering: Water is scarce in arid coastal regions hence it’s prudent only to water when necessary but also ensuring deep watering at least once per week instead of frequent shallow waterings.

  • Aeration:

    • The primary objective of aerating is ensuring tired-looking soils bounce back into shape by increasing air flow and water retention ability
  • As tides come and go, salt levels continually–over time–build up leading to soil compaction which ultimately creates hardpan which needs loosening through drainage; this encourages appropriate levels of oxygen to reach plant roots.

  • Frequent removal/trimming weedy or excessively vigorous plants before they go limp covering big spaces on ground ensures smaller foliage provides adequate penetration of light and air down to other parts.

Pest and disease control

Coastal gardens attract pests that are specific due to nutrient-deficient soils especially on existing chloride/magnesium/sodium imbalances that lead folks seeking pesticides solutions without looking into fertilizer mitigation. By studying pest mitigations strategies early on, here are some types of pest and diseases that are rampant in coastal gardens;

  • Slugs and snails: These garden pests feed mainly at dawn and dusk while groups themselves under leaves to breed. They move slowly but capable of decimating any garden in just days when not controlled.

    • To counter: Block them by laying a barrier that they can’t crawl over e.g., copper tape around pots or surrounding stones, crystals or gravel surrounding plant stem-root areas but also limiting the number of hiding places for these pests defoliants such as helleberries have been effective due to poisonous sap at foliage base (be careful highly toxic).
  • Aphids: These sap-sucking insects infest most plants even those considered “pest-resistant.”

    • To control: Introducing ladybirds and lacewings beneficial insects that prey on aphid populations or pluck infected plants sections so that it does not damage adjacent buds.
  • Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease which thrives in damp conditions affecting roses, phlox and hydrangeas(especially mid-Summer). Feeds on top surfaces leading to leave curling turning yellow-brown drying off.

    – To counter: Mild cases of powdery mildew can be treated by spraying with copper-based fungicide soap solution. However, severe cases need complete removal from site if necessary.

By incorporating these maintenance tips into your coastal garden care routine, you’re sure to enjoy its beautiful views all year round. Healthy soil promotes healthy growth likewise biodiversity helps minimize pests/diseases occurrence ultimately reducing pollution risks.

Scroll to Top