Landscaping Your Coastal Florida Property

Landscape MaintenancePlants

Coastal landscapes are unique and require special care. Sandy soil has a high pH; properties face constant wind; and salt is in the air, water, and soil. Choose plants that are native and salt-tolerant; support plant growth with wind protection and soil amendments.

There is a plethora of general landscaping advice out there, but coastal landscapes require a unique approach to planting and soil care. In this blog, we guide you through the features of coastal properties, how to choose the right coastal plants, and how to help them thrive.

Features of Coastal Properties

Understanding the conditions that coastal properties face is crucial in planning and maintaining lush, healthy landscaping. Pay attention to these distinctions:

  1. Sandy soil is not unique to coastal properties in Florida, but it is a constant among them, and it must be taken into consideration when choosing plants.
  2. Coastal soil has a higher pH-level than what is optimum for most plants. Native plants will do best here, or soil amendment will be necessary.
  3. Coastal properties receive constant wind. Strong wind can uproot or break plants, and the salt it carries collects on leaves and can dry them out or burn them. 
  4. Salt is everywhere. Coastal gardens must be able to withstand salt spray in the air, on the soil and plant surfaces, and in the groundwater.  

Plants for Coastal Growing

Choose Native When Possible

The first step in planning your landscaping is to assess the plants already on your property. Keep and protect any native plants since they have already adapted to saltwater, high-pH soil, and wind. Consider native plants first when choosing additions to your yard and garden.

Salt Tolerance is Key

Any coastal property owner should use salt-tolerant plants, especially in locations within an eighth of a mile of the ocean. The following are a few native, salt-tolerant plants.

Small Trees: Chickasaw plum, red buckeye

Large Shrubs: Wax myrtle, yaupon holly

Compact Shrubs: Agave, coontie, muhly grass, sand cordgrass, saw palmetto, yucca

Groundcovers and Vines: Bougainvillea, sunshine mimosa, coral honeysuckle, native wisteria

Flowers: Coreopsis, dune sunflower, firebush, hibiscus, gaillardia, Louisiana iris

Help Your Plants Thrive

Give your plants a hand by improving the soil and providing wind protection.

Amend the Soil

Native plants will grow best here because they are adapted to the environment. However, if you want to cultivate non-native annuals, perennials, or a vegetable garden, work in soil amendments to help these plants thrive. 

Sandy soil does not retain water or nutrients well. Amending this soil with plenty of compost will improve its water-retaining capability, fertility, and structure.

Provide Wind Protection

Windbreaks and screens will protect your garden beds from damaging winds, allowing plants to thrive and offering privacy to your yard.

For a living windbreak, choose sturdy, highly salt-tolerant plants. Start with a low shrub or grass on the outside and taller shrubs or small trees on the inside. This placement will guide the wind up and over the garden.

Install a fence or vine-covered lattice as a windscreen, but make sure that the screen is permeable. A little air flow will prevent the screen from being blown over by a strong gust.

Thanks to the following sites for information used in this article: Tallahassee Nurseries, University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions, and Coastal Illustrated.

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