Coastal gardens are high on the list of looks we love in our beach-loving country and it’s a style that suits us for more reasons than one. Loose and laidback, a seaside garden fits with our relaxed, beer-and-barbecues way of living, but it’s also ideally suited to surviving the challenges of any garden within blowing distance of a coastal breeze.
The coastal look
Coastal gardens aren’t just for absolute waterfront properties. Homes quite some distance back from the beach can still feel the salty bite of ocean breezes or be plagued with sandy soil, or the homeowners might just love the look of a seaside garden – and why wouldn’t you? A seaside garden evokes memories of carefree holidays and of chilling with friends on a sunny afternoon. To capture that feeling, our go-to materials are unpretentious and slightly weathered: stone, gravel, greyed timber. Straight lines and regimented hedges are out and sweeping curves are in, while plants are loose and unstructured, with an emphasis on natives and on grasses, which provide a sense of movement as they sway in the wind.
The colour palette is dictated by the plants that grow best here – mostly natives – which means the scene is dominated by silvery greys, blues and white, just the thing to conjure up rolling sand dunes and ocean escapes.
Challenges of a seaside site
The biggest challenge of a coastal garden, particularly one very close to the water, is wind. Salt-laden, blustery breezes are death to delicate plants and can really restrict the enjoyment you get from your garden. Wind breaks are a must, providing protection from the worst winds and saving your summer barbecues. A traditional hedge may not cut it, but certain natives can survive and thrive here. We love banksias, like Banksia integrifolia, which is dense enough to work as a hedge, but still loose and unstructured, which goes with the look of a coastal garden.
Making the most of views
Not every coastal garden has views, but when they do, it’s the dominant feature. Making the most of a stunning outlook is not so simple as just ensuring a clear line of sight – many of our clients assume that they need to eliminate anything that stands between them and the sea, but the best way to appreciate a beautiful view is to frame it. Planting a tree will block a fraction of the view, yes, but it also adds interest to a blank ocean vista, with changing foliage, dancing shadows or the way it bows and sways in the wind.