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Landscape Design

Coastal Landscaping

Design ideas for landscaping near the coast

  • Alida Aldrich Landscape Design in Santa Barbara, CA
  • Suzman Design Associates in San Francisco, CA
  • Wood and Partners Inc in Hilton Head Island, SC
  • DC West Construction Inc. in Carlsbad, CA
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Coastal Landscape Style Guide

Use this design sheet to help you create the perfect coastal landscape. You'll get ideas for color, décor, materials, plants and fabric. It is a great starting point for any landscaping project.

Coastal Landscape Style Guide (PDF)

View all Landscape Design Style Guides

Coastal gardens are one of the few that keep their surroundings as the main priority in their design. Coastal landscapes are simple, they flow and their design speaks volumes by enhancing the natural beauty of their location. Coastal gardens vary by area, whether you live on the east or west coast, on or off the water; they always represent a relaxing simple lifestyle. The natural beauty brings inspiration to the design by using mass plantings, grasses and shrubs that move freely in the ocean breeze. Coastal landscapes are meant to look natural and contribute to the overall atmosphere of life close to the sea.

Elements within Coastal gardens:

  • Seagrass furniture
  • Marine artifacts
  • Hammocks
  • Shutters
  • Clapboard
  • Teak
  • Exposed aggregate
  • Steel

Although coastal landscapes have the benefit of the wonderful scenery, landscaping near the ocean does present challenges. Salt, winds and the sandy soil can limit the use of plants and be tough for people to handle. Planting shrubs that act as a wind break but do not block views will assist in making windy days more tolerable. Besides planted wind breaks, stick to drought tolerant, lower growing, mounding shrubs that will be hardy in harsh weather and soil conditions. Planting a mass amount of lower growing shrubs will eventually grow together, look like one, give the illusion of the ocean and accentuate the scenery rather than take away from it. Living the coastal lifestyle is free and relaxing; your landscape should represent the way of life and give guests a taste of what life by the sea is all about.

Common characteristics within a Coastal garden:

  1. Patio - areas are great in coastal gardens; especially when the home has an ocean or coastal view. Most landscapes on the coast will be taken full advantage of in the summer months, so be sure to include a nice entertainment space that will act as an extension of your home.
  2. A Dry creek - curving through native plantings and grasses will not only attract wildlife but contribute to the organic form in the coastal garden.
  3. Seating areas - or benches should be places throughout the landscape where they will be protected from heavy winds.
  4. Movement - is a critical with all elements within the design. Select plants and décor that will move freely on the ocean breezes. Stiff, rugged looking plants will look out of place and take away from the natural scenery.

Use light colors in your hardscape to represent the sandy beaches and make certain areas for entertainment or relaxation pop by using bright colors. A light colored decomposed granite or sand is ideal for walkways. Using décor that further emphasizes seaside living will enhance not only the design but your ideal location. Marine artifacts, a hammock and teak furniture all define the ultimate coastal landscape design. No matter your location, a coastal garden is guaranteed to provide you a peaceful location for entertaining friends or a relaxing area for you to unwind and read a book.

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