Gardening by the Seaside

Gardening  by the sea side has a number of unique challenges . Although the climate may be milder, less prone to frost and snow, coastal gardens are often in exposed sites and suffer from sea spray heavy with salt. Many are second homes and so the garden must fend for itself for periods.

If it's very exposed, it may be necessary to create a wind break or some shelter. A hedge is better than a wall or a fence which can creates wind eddies and be blown down. A mixed hedge can be formed from many of the shrubs listed below.

If garden pots are unattended for periods, a good tip is to add water gel crystals to the soil. They help to retain water as will a mulch, stones and shells can look attractive.

Gardens near the sea need tough plants - Below is suggestion list depending on your personal preferences; all are suitable for sea side gardens.

Gardening by the sea side

Shrubs for sea side gardens

Rosa Rugosa

As a Rose it  is much more tolerant than other roses of the difficult coastal conditions and is related to the wild rose. Summer flowers are followed by large red or orange hips. It   is easy to grow and can be planted to form a hedge but beware the thorns are lethal.

What about pruning?

Unlike many roses the Rugosa is tolerant and if its not pruned every year it will still flower the following summer.  It grows up to 2 metres and Rosa Rugosa is deciduous so in the winter it will be bare. It is fast growing and very forgiving of growing conditions, its also known as the salt spray rose. The only condition it dislikes it wet soil.

green wheel barrow Rosa Rugosa easy to grow


Cistus (Rock Rose) and Lavandula

Another  tough shrub suitable for a sea side garden and which will flower all summer long and if its dry and sunny that’s fine. It  it dislikes the wet and is a small compact shrub. Lavandula will grow in a seaside setting and - looks great along a path ( for more information about growing lavender)  and is also stunning in pots. Lavender needs very little attention, prune the flower stalks off after flowering and always avoid cutting into the old wood and that’s it. More about growing Cistus

green wheel barrow Cistus is easy  to grow


Photinia fraseri (Red Robin)

Popular easy to grow garden shrub which requires very little attention. The new growth of foliage is red giving great colour to the border, and it produces it’s best colour in sun but will grow anywhere provided there are no cold, drying winds. It is ideal for sea side gardens and grows up to 5m (15ft) and would make a suitable sea side hedge. Photinia is a much more attractive shrub than it is often given credit for as it can appear frequently in landscaping around supermarkets but the red flush of new growth is very attracive and it is reliable in all conditions. 





green wheel barrow  red robin is easy to grow


Potentilla fruiticosa

Very tough deciduous shrub which flowers from late spring on wards. Saucer like flowers commonly  either white, yellows, pinks and red.

Growing up to 1m (3ft) it can form into a low hedge or form part of a mixed border. It needs no attention easy maintenance, it's easy to grow and reliable in  a sea side garden.

green wheel barrow Potentilla is  easy to grow

Fuchsia riccartonii

The hardy Fuchsia seen in many sea side gardens  which is good for growing at the back of a border of for forming a hedge. This should not be confused with the more showy, summer bedding Fuchsia which are not hardy.

This will grow up to 2-3m and this variety has the RHS Garden merit which is always good to look for when buying any plant or shrub.

Very easy to grow, and ideal in a seaside garden  it tolerates the conditions well and needs no maintenance.

green wheel barrow easy to grow Hardy Fushsia


Links to pages with other shrubs suitable for a Seaside Garden

                                             Ceanothus                              Hydrangea                                           Hypericum                                                  





 Lavatera                Rhododendron                 Holly/Ilex


Plants for a Seaside Garden


Eryngium common name Sea Holly

As it's name  suggests is well adapted to sea side gardens. It is a stylish architectural plant different varieties grow between ½ - 1 meter. It flowers a blue/mauve in the summer and the flowers can be cut and dried. It looks fantastic in a seaside garden and because of its lovely mauve and blue colours, stands well against white stones/walls.

green wheel barrow  Sea Holly is easy to grow




Another striking architectural plant with fantastic showy electric blue flowers well suited to a  sea side garden. They grow best in full sun; and congested roots provides the best flowers and thus they are suitable for growing in pots as well as borders. They are not fully frost hardy so even in a coastal spot it would be a good idea to mulch them for the winter.Africannus is a suitable variety for a coastal garden.

Sometimes Agapanthus can be difficult to get started and to keep flowering each year. They need to be in well drained but fertile soil and although they can be tricky are fantastic showy plants once established. More about growing agapanthus

amber wheel barrow Agapanthus are of medium difficulty to grow


Flowering plants suitable for a Seaside Garden

                                      Passionflower                              Achillea                                   Crocosmia                                                      

passionfloraachilleacrocosmia lucifer




 Thalictrum                                     Papaver orientalis