If you live anywhere along the coast and are planning a major garden project, the most important thing to remember is to choose plants that can withstand high levels of salt, moisture and harsh coastal winds, while thriving in your local climate. Accent your garden with themed decorations to bring the whole landscape together while adding a touch of whimsy and creativity.
New England Garden
You don't have to live in New England to give your seaside garden a classic New England look, because most of the plants that grow on the northeastern coast can grow in most locales. Use cypress, ceanothus and coastal pine trees to demarcate property lines. These species grow fairly tall and offer privacy, as well as provide a barrier against harsh coastal winds. For borders along the side of your house or for walkways, plant evergreen shrubs, such as Mugho Pines, or flowering coastal shrubs, such as escallonia or azalea mollis. Fill in your walkways with sand or gravel. Plant rosemary or blueberries for ground cover--you can harvest and eat these during their respective seasons. Decorate your garden with nautically-themed objects, such as old anchors, miniature lighthouses, brass bells and captain's wheels. An old wooden rowboat can be a quirky planter for flowers.
Tropical seaside gardens, unlike New England gardens, must be planted in tropical climates, or you will end up with dead plants in your landscape. For windscreens and privacy barriers, plant palm trees along your property lines. Firethorn makes an ornamental landscaping plant, with its white blooms and red berries. Likewise, arbutus unedo, also known as the "strawberry tree," produces strawberry-like berries and has broad leaves. Create ground cover with purple fountain grass and sea lavender; purple fountain grass will grow tall and create a pleasant, wavy effect on windy days. Accent the garden with seashells, coral, sea glass and oyster shells. If you have a gazebo, give it a thatched roof made of woven palm fronds for a classic tropical look.
Mediterranean gardens can be planted in moderate climates that lean toward warmer weather. Cyprus trees are ideal for creating privacy screens and wind barriers; additionally, their texture blends well with other plants recommended for this type of landscape. You can also use palm trees that grow in moderate climates for the same purpose. Cover the ground with plants such as bluestem grass, beach amaranth and sandwort. Shrubs that produce greyish foliage, such as senecio greyi and dusty miller, make nice additions to Mediterranean style gardens. Create walkways or border garden beds with crushed limestone and accent the garden with stone columns to give the impression of a Greek or Roman ruin. Plants such as juniper, thyme and oleander will make your garden fragrant and can be planted throughout the grounds to give your landscape a wild, natural look.