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Down By The Seashore -- 4 Challenges For A Coastal Yard And How To Beat Them

by Dan Mckinney

Whether it's the warm Gulf waters or the dramatic Pacific Northwest coast, living by the shoreline is a dream come true for many people. And, while it's certain to bring a lifetime of happy memories, seaside life can have some unique challenges for your outdoor landscape and hardscape.

What are these challenges, and how you can you meet them? Here are 4 of the most common.


Between the wind, the rain, and the saltwater lapping at your shores, coastal environments can erode quickly and steadily. Form a barrier between any sandy areas and your yard by planting a buffer of native plants, shrubs, and trees. Native species are the best choice because they will be the most likely to thrive and require little maintenance. 

In addition, be sure you direct any water runoff away from your yard and away from any elevation changes or slopes leading to it. You may need to work with a qualified landscape professional, such as the ones found at, to determine how to direct the water from rain and storm drains. 


Many coastal areas have soil that's less than desirable for planting. You may find that the soil contains a lot of sand, limestone, rock, or clay (depending on your local climate), and that you'll need to adjust it in order to have healthy plants.

You may want to do a soil test before deciding on a landscape design. At the very least, it's probably a good idea to augment sandy soil with compost, especially if you'll be planting non-native species.


Hardscaping, or anything in your landscape design that's not organic, is a good way to both enjoy the outdoor coastal views and to deal with landscape challenges. However, the salt and wind along the edge of the sea can present its own problems.

Metal, for example, may rust easily. It's often better to opt for naturally-water resistant materials like teak or vinyl. Cast aluminum can give the look of metal without the rusting concerns. 

Be sure to rinse off outdoor hardscaping regularly to avoid saltwater buildup. Glass, in particular, should be regularly cleaned with soap and water to avoid a "foggy" appearance due to salt debris. 


There are several ways to deal with the regular winds that often affect beach areas. One method is to plant a windbreak using one or two rows of evergreens, such as blue spruce or Oriental arborvitae. Vary the height of each row so that you provide a solid -- but not impenetrable -- barrier on the windward side of your property.

You may also be able to build your entertainment space in such a way as to use the house's wall as a windbreak or add a second, solid wall to break up winds. 

In addition, be sure to have your trees regularly trimmed and inspected by a professional landscape service that specializes in tree servicing. Keeping trees healthy and removing weak branches will help prevent limb breakage and toppling during high winds. 

Planning for the main challenges of having a coastal home will help you create a true haven that you can enjoy for years to come--no matter what the weather.