Gardening tips: Creating a coastal garden

Published 8:00am 9 May 2024

Gardening tips: Creating a coastal garden
Words by Sondra Grainger

The salty scent of the ocean, refreshing sea breezes, sand between the toes… these are the essence of coastal living, but they can be a real headache for those who love to garden. Creating a landscape tolerant of these conditions all comes down to soil improvement and plant choice.


Depending on your address, you may have sandy, very well-draining soil, or if you reside in a new development precinct, it’s likely to be heavy and clay-based. Either way, you need to create a more hospitable terrain. Digging in ‘soil improver’ or compost will enhance both soil types adding valuable nutrients, humus, organic biostimulants and organic materials to revitalise the ground and improve the effectiveness of the soil. Adding a layer of mulch after planting will also encourage microbial activity adding nitrogen and provide a protective blanket to prevent the topsoil from drying out too fast.


Australian native and Mediterranean gardens tend to cope with strong wind gusts, salty air, poor soil and sloping sites. Silver-grey foliage deflects scorching sun. Slender leaf grasses allow the wind to whistle through without shredding the leaves. Low-growing ground covers and shrubs won’t snap easily in strong gusts and help stabilise sloping sites. Leaves that are thick, spikey, hairy, silvery, waxy or leathery are more robust and dry out less. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of plants that fit the bill and many of them have names that reflect their ability to live seaside.

Forever flowering – Erigeron Seaside Daisy, Gazania, Pigface, Aptenia, Bougainvillea, Brachyscome, Red-hot poker

Shrubs - Coastal Rosemary (Westringia), Saltbush (Rhagodia), Lavender, Metrosideros (New Zealand Christmas Bush), Indian Hawthorn (Rhapiolepis)

Edibles - Rosemary, Thyme, Olives

Fabulous features - Sea Holly (Eryrigium), Coastal Banksia, Pandanus, Blueberry Ash Tree plus grasses, aloes and succulents


Coastal design embraces natural elements such as rocks, driftwood and gravel to enhance the landscape while weathered timber sleepers are ideal for creating garden edging, rustic bench seating, wind breaks or raised garden beds. So, if you’re seeking a relaxed style of garden that’s tough but full of colour and texture, consider going coastal.


  • Take a drive around the Peninsula and see what’s thriving on neglect
  • Plant in swaths to create a greater visual impact
  • Keep your colour palette simple (think sand/sea/sky)
  • Create a spot to sit in your garden and enjoy it


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