Coastal Garden Ideas: 10 Ways to Design Oceanside Gardens


The design of the Coastal Gardens includes natural textures, distressed finishes, a loose and relaxed planting style and places to pause and enjoy the ocean views stretching out before you.

While an ocean view can come with harsh conditions, it also presents an opportunity to grow plants that thrive in a salty, windy, and exposed situation, and create a design that is completely unique.

The beach is a place to escape and reconnect with nature, so include some of these key elements in your backyard ideas to create an outdoor space that perfectly complements its surroundings.

Coastal Garden Ideas

The most important aspect of a coastal garden design is to embrace the ocean and the conditions it creates as inspiration. Make the most of the rugged natural beauty of the landscape and work with it.

“If you have a view of the sea from the house, the star of the show will be the water. The task for the garden then is to remain fairly quiet, reduce visual noise in the foreground and allow the eye to be drawn into the water and absorb the view,” advises landscape designer Helen Elks-Smith. .

1. Plant with an environmentally-inspired palette

coastal garden planted with grasses and verbena

(Image credit: Helen Elks-Smith Garden Design)

When it comes to the planting color palette for flower bed ideas in a coastal garden, take inspiration from the ocean side environment. “I like to look at the sky, the sand and the materials and draw color influence from that,” says gardener Jo Thompson.

Include wide stretches of coastal plants that tolerate the prevailing salty, windy and dry conditions, adding color, texture and movement to your garden landscape. Using colors that reflect the ocean theme will help the garden adapt better to its environment.

“Silvers, olive greens, purples, whites, blues and yellows tend to be the colors you find in native coastal plants, but bright, warm splashes of color can also be introduced with kniphofias” , adds the garden designer. Sue Townsend.

2. Use local materials

garden path made of local stone and boulders in the coastal garden

(Image credit: Jo Thompson Garden Design/Photography Rachel Warne)

When planning hard landscaping in a coastal garden, “if possible, use regional stone to increase the connection to the landscape; local materials will come from the same color palette of the floor and settle there quietly. If the budget does not allow it, choose another material but in the same color palette,” suggests Helen Elks-Smith.

Add boulders and other landscaping ideas with rocks to define areas or act as impromptu seating and use local stone for garden path ideas.

Like any other garden, hard landscaping should complement the architecture of the property and integrate with the surrounding landscape. ‘If you are near a rugged, rocky coastline, echo the stone you see around you; or if you’re near a pebble beach, get pebbles or gravel from a local quarry,” adds Sue Townsend.

3. Protect yourself from the elements

coastal garden with grass mound to shelter from the wind

(Image credit: Sue Townsend Garden Design)

A coastal garden can be subject to strong, salt-laden winds, so if you have the space and are able to plant a windbreak of fast-growing shrubs and trees that can withstand these elements, it will help provide shelter.

“If space is limited, a sturdy hedge can help filter and slow the effects of wind, or another option is to create mounds or sunken areas in the garden,” advises Sue Townsend.

The degree of protection needed will depend on whether the garden is directly on the coast or slightly further back. “Protecting the whole garden is likely to compromise views, which is best avoided. Blocking the wind over a coastal garden is likely to cause air turbulence, which can create new problems. Slowing down the wind and concentrating protection on key areas is likely to be more effective and provide more predictable results. Taller plants are very good at slowing down the wind,” says Helen Elks-Smith.

4. Use fences for scouting

garden fence made of oak sleepers in a coastal garden

(Image credit: Helen Elks-Smith Garden Design)

If you’re looking for garden fencing ideas, a slatted windbreak fence can provide some protection from the wind, suggests Sue Townsend.

Hit-and-miss fences – where boards are alternately attached to the front and back of the rails – whether vertical or horizontal shapes, are likely to withstand the wind better than a solid fence and cause less turbulence. Bespoke fencing that plays with ideas of the coastal landscape is also worth exploring,” advises Helen Elks-smith.

5. Build raised beds

grasses planted in raised beds in a coastal gravel garden

(Image credit: Sue Townsend Garden Design)

Raised beds are typical of a coastal style and a solution to coping with the poor soil of many coastal gardens and are also a solution when designing a sloping garden, which many coastal plots are.

As for what materials to use, “look at salvaged wood from local salvage yards or local stone from quarries. Work with materials that you know work in the area and take an inventory of what pops up locally,” advises gardener Jo Thompson.

Also consider recycled farm feeders or salvaged old boat hulls to enhance the nautical theme.

6. Plant in gravel

gravel planting in a coastal garden

(Image credit: Jo Thompson Garden Design/Photography Rachel Warne)

To recreate the natural feel of plants growing haphazardly from sand and pebbles like you’ll find on the coast, create a gravel garden by planting in locally sourced gravel or pebbles with a selection of rot-resistant plantings. drought. Choose both ornamental grasses to provide height and ground cover choices to scramble stones. The gravel will also act as a mulch to retain moisture in the soil.

“I import compost and mulch to improve the soil under the gravel or cobbles, then I move the gravel back – still working with what’s there,” says Jo Thompson.

‘Plant in weed-free soil, then lay a 40mm depth of gravel or pebbles. Sticking to this depth will make it difficult for weeds to sprout – those that appear over time tend to be airborne and easy to pull out. Planting this way gives you more ease and flexibility to lift and move plants over time, and to add bulbs, rather than struggling with cutting holes and planting in geotextile membranes under gravel” , advises gardener Sue Townsend.

7. Design with decking

patio ideas

(Image credit: Future/Ben Anders)

“Wooden decking works well in a sunny spot in the garden and has a wonderful coastal vibe when left out to weather, so it silvers itself,” says Sue Thompson.

Decking ideas are perfect for a sloping garden and can be placed at different levels to take advantage of different views.

“On a practical basis, make sure metal fixtures and fittings won’t corrode in salt-laden winds – marine-grade stainless steel fixtures, railings and screws will work best,” adds Sue.

“Use hardwood, make sure it’s not slippery and will last,” says Jo Thompson.

8. Paint the beaches

gravel garden with coastal themed features and plantings

(Image credit: Alamy Images)

A coastal garden is dotted with finds from beachcombers, as well as seashells, rocks, lengths of driftwood, and salvaged artifacts.

Add to that old wooden crates and weathered pots as container gardening ideas, filled with plants suited to the conditions, such as succulents including aeonium and sempervivum, which work perfectly in a seaside setting and stand out. behave well in salty winds.

9. Provide a seating area to enjoy the view

coastal garden with bespoke fence and seating area

(Image credit: Jo Thompson Garden Design/Photography Rachel Warne)

Creating a place to sit in the garden to enjoy the ocean view is paramount in designing a coastal garden.

“Once you’ve found the perfect spot with great views of the landscape and sheltered from the winds, the next consideration is how to ensure that same space blends into the landscape,” says Helen Elks-Smith.

Planting to raise the gaze to the landscape and soften the view of the seating area and furniture in the house is essential.

10. Include naturalistic curves

Rock Garden Ideas

(Image credit: Future/Alex Ramsay)

Reflect the natural lines of the surrounding landscape in your coastal garden design so that the garden blends into its surroundings. Just as coastal paths meander along the shoreline, design garden paths and borders to have a carefree feel, freedom and gentle undulations.

What are Coastal Gardens?

Coastal gardens are those that are located next to or near the ocean on the coastline, so they will be exposed to winds, salty air and the often dry, sloping soil conditions associated with the location.

The choice of planting must therefore take these conditions into account to ensure that the plants chosen for the location can cope with them. Coastal garden design can also help protect plants and provide better growing conditions.

“For many coastal gardens, nearby properties and trees will slow prevailing winds, reduce salt spray and provide a wider plant choice,” says Helen Elks-Smith.

How to make a seaside garden?

You can create a seaside garden by incorporating any of the design elements mentioned above. In fact, you don’t have to live by the sea to create a coastal garden design, and even indoor and urban gardeners can still recreate the feel of an ocean location by planting coastal plants that are well-suited to many landscapes. many conditions, and including features, materials and textures associated with the coastline.


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