Coastal Gardens Need A Different Approach
Seaside Gardening needs a different approach. Learn to deal with wind and salt spray, create shelter and choose the right seaside plants to create a great and exotic looking coastal garden.
Coastal gardening means thinking about shelter from wind and seaside plants that will withstand the maritime climate.
Having a garden in a coastal location will make gardening different. If you approach it like an inland garden you are more than likely going to fail.
Cordylines and Senecio are great seaside plants
Photo Credit: ozzadavies
Of course you have to think about soil, drainage, sun or shade like in any other garden. The most important thing for a seaside garden however is shelter. This is the starting point for creating coastal gardens and for successful seaside gardening.
Without sufficient shelter you won't be able to grow the more delicate plants. The salt-laden winds would just destroy them. The day after the first serious gale you will find them very sad looking with burned and blackened leaves.
In a coastal garden you need hedges, trees and shrubs that can tolerate these conditions or artificial structures like walls, fences or banks that will act as a windbreak. These will reduce wind speeds and protect the more delicate plants.
You have to think about the main wind directions and establish trees and hedges to break and reduce the wind. If you want to shelter a big garden you can combine trees, shrubs and hedges to a shelter belt with varying heights. The more height the bigger the area behind the shelter belt that will be protected from the wind.
Evergreen plants provide their shelter of course all year round and should form most of your shelter belts.
I often see people in the garden center who want the instant, colorful garden. I think that is not possible in any garden (unless you spend lots of money) particularly not in a seaside garden. Shelter in the form of trees, shrubs and hedges need to grow and establish. This takes time! These plants are often not the prettiest or most exciting but they grow in seaside conditions and provide shelter for other plants.
Young hedges, shrubs or flower beds can be helped along with windbreak netting. This will provide temporary shelter that can be removed when the plants are established.
Good seaside plants are able to withstand salt spray, wind and sand that comes with the breeze. Their foliage is tougher and often protected with a waxy layer or tiny hairs.
Some plants that cope well with seaside conditions loose their leaves during the winter months or hibernate under the ground.
Evergreen hedges sheltering a flower bed
in Mount Usher Gardens in Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Photo Credit: Ivan Walsh
You also have to know your garden. Some parts might get hit more by the wind than others.
Wind tunnels can be a difficult problem. They often develop between two buildings or a building and a hedge. The wind gains in speed when forced through those narrow spaces and has a detrimental effect on plants or garden structures. Fences or gates can easily be blown to pieces in those spots during a bad storm if they are not secured well.
Seaside Garden Center, Renard Rd, Caherciveen, Co. Kerry, Ireland