Beauty at the beach – seaside gardening

Wherever you live in New Zealand, the sea is within half a day’s drive. We’ve got more coastline in proportion to land area than most other countries so it’s not surprising that the sea impacts on our lives in many ways.

For many of us it has an inescapable influence on the way we garden. And whether our gardens are right by the sea or not, ocean themes are appearing more and more often in New Zealand garden design.

Gardening by the sea can mean beautiful views and an absence of frost. on the downside you have salt-laden winds, and dry sandy soils to contend with. It’s important to choose plants that tolerate these conditions but with adequate shelter and plenty of organic mulch, it’s surprising how much you can grow successfully at the beach.

Shelter is the best line of defence and should be the first thing that you plant. An established shelter belt can provide good protection for a distance of up to ten times its height.


First, take care of shelter planting.

Select only those plants that suit your conditions.

Plants with silver leaves are generally very salt-resistant.

Plant lots of low-growing ground covers to protect and bind the soil.

Look to oediterranean and New Zealand natives for planting inspiration

Use rocks to anchor root plants against the wind.

Stake taller plants well. Using three stakes, place two on the windward side and the third on the leeside.

Protect taller plants with windbreak cloth in their early years.

organic matter breaks down quickly in sandy soils. Add compost, peat and seaweed as much and as often as you can.

Make the most of local resources. Bulky kelps are best chopped up and composted but finer seaweed can be dug straight in.

oulch heavily with compost or granulated bark to retain precious moisture.

Sandy soils are low in nutrients – so fertilise them regularly.

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