Landscaping for the coast offers some unique design opportunities as well as challenges. The salty winds can be tough on plants and people, yet the breeze brings a sense of anticipation and motion to the landscape and should be thought of as an opportunity to bring the garden alive with flowing grasses and other loosely textured plants.

The ocean itself is a fantastic source of inspiration for the landscape. The open vistas and natural beauty seem to ask for broad swathes of plants, naturalistic curves and colors that don’t overwhelm the light colors of sand and sea. Yet the seaside also evokes a childlike sense of play, so don’t be shy about playing with bolder colors either in planting or decor. Brighter colors like orange, coral and gold can call to mind glorious sunsets and enliven your outdoor living space.

Let these six designer landscapes inspire your own seaside escape.


Debora Carl Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz?

Enjoy Your Yard With a New Fire Pit


When designing for the coast, using elements that reflect the theme of the ocean can help your landscape fit into the surroundings. In this garden, the flowing carpet of blue succulents echoes the calming ripples of the sea. Bonus: Succulents perform well in often-sandy coastal soils and tolerate salt winds with ease.

Debora Carl Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz


Pale hardscape colors just feel right among the sunshine and sand of coastal communities. Not only do lighter paving colors echo the white sands of the beach, but they don’t soak up so much heat from all the sunshine, so they’re more comfortable to walk on.

Lankford Associates Landscape Architects, original photo on Houzz


This curvaceous walkway brings to mind the meandering path of a small river flowing into the bay. The ornamental grasses and thyme make a natural accompaniment, as they both have a sense of flow and movement.

The weathered wood of this Adirondack chair fits in beautifully with the muted tones of this windswept coastal garden.

Of course, you needn’t tone down your personal style just because you live on the coast. For many people, the seaside is associated with holidays and happy times as a child, so why not incorporate that festive spirit into your landscaping? These chairs have a sense of fun, yet their swooping shape still fits in with the curving lines of the water’s edge.

The craggy boulders here double as seating and give a nod to the rocky hillside around. Creeping thyme softens the flagstone patio and makes it an inviting place to sit by the fire.

Randy Thueme Design Inc. – Landscape Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Revamp Your Outdoor Space With a Local Landscape Contractor


While many coastal gardens are designed to reflect the natural lines of the surrounding landscape, this is a gorgeous example of a contemporary approach. The olive trees have a cloudlike appearance that softens the architecture, and the motion of the grasses as they sway in the wind brings a lively feeling to the home.


See more of this coastal garden

Debora Carl Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz

Learn more about ornamental grasses


The vistas on the coast are so majestic that the landscaping should follow suit. Mass plantings are a great way to elevate a single species into a real theme. Here, Mexican feather grass has a softly textured appearance and moves with the breeze.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture, original photo on Houzz

See the rest of this Back Bay retreat


Above all, your coastal garden should have a comfortable place to gather and enjoy the view. This patio and firepit area is nestled into the landscape for wind protection and a harmonious look.