Coastal Gardening: how to choose plants That Thrive in Seaside Environments

Coastal gardening

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The plants you choose must be tough as they cop a beating from many environmental factors, such as salt winds and drought, all while enjoying a fabulous view.

The soil in most seaside gardens is quite poor due to the high sand element. Help your garden by adding organic matter to the soil. Compost and manure are a good idea when planting exotics but go easy on these when planting natives. Mulch is always beneficial as it will break down over time to enrich the soil. It helps to retain moisture and the biggest benefit is it suppresses weeds.

Always plant the right thing in the right spot as this will help the plant (it will thrive) and also the visual appeal (it won’t look half dead) and lessen your maintenance (you won’t have to prune it all the time if you choose a plant that grows to your required height – don’t plant a 5m shrub if you require a 1m hedge).

When I think of coastal plants that thrive in extremes, I think of the natives. Our beautiful coastline is filled with plants that will look good in suburban gardens, such as coastal Banksia integrifolia, white-flowering tea tree Leptospermum laevigatum, low-growing climber Hibbertia volubilis; clumping wind-swept grasses Lomandra and coastal spear-grass, both found all over Bald Hill. Yellow-flowering snake vine is great as a ground cover.

When choosing frontline coastal plants you can’t go wrong with grey foliage beauties. Common lavenders, Convolvulus cneorum, and white-flowering morning glory Westringia are all hardy small shrubs. Snow-in-summer, Cerastium tomentosum, is a grey, soft foliage groundcover. Groundcover plants are great for creating a living mulch; they suppress weeds, look good trailing over walls or embankments and can help with erosion. Top native groundcovers are the green Myoporum parvifolium and pig face Carpobrotus rossii.

Edible plants suitable would be common rosemary, bay tree and sensational Feijoa, a fruiting shrub from New Zealand that is commonly called pineapple guava. It tastes and smells like strawberry, lemon and passion fruit all in one – it flowers and is used as a windbreak or hedge.

For a traditional beachside garden, plant a frangipani tree, climbing mandevillas, with mass-flowering, bright, tubular flowers or a hibiscus. My favourite is native Hibiscus tiliaceus. Hibiscus tiliaceus ‘Rubra’ has the most stunning burgundy, heart-shaped leaves and yellow flowers; it makes a lovely small feature tree.
Succulents do very well by the sea – a carpet of Senecio reminds me of seaweed. Agaves make a bold statement and some cultures believe Jade brings good luck. These plants have made a big fashionable comeback in the garden design industry, so get a little trendy and plant one today.
Happy gardening!

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