Coastal Gardening: Groundcover Plants for the Sea Coast

by Genevieve on May 8, 2010

Post image for Coastal Gardening: Groundcover Plants for the Sea Coast

Using groundcovers in sea coast gardens can give you easy low-maintenance color. I love to use ground-covering plants in masses because the waves of color kind of echo the broad waves of the ocean.

Planting groundcovers also avoids a lot of the issues found when planting individual shrubs or trees. When planted in masses, the wind blows up and over the groundcovers rather than catching the branches and constantly shaking the plants.

These plants can be used as groundcovers in the toughest of sea coast conditions:

Cistus photo by dichohecho on Flickr Ceanothus California Lilac Erigeron
Cistus by Randy Son of Robert on Flickr Golden Ceanothus Calluna 'Velvet Fascination' and 'Dark Beauty'
Calluna Firefly Calluna 'Sister Anne' Golden Oregano and Mavis Simpson Geranium
Helianthemum Spanish Lavender Grevillea lanigera Coastal Gem

(Click on a photo to view larger) Top row, from left: Cistus purpureus ‘Alba’/ White Orchid Rock Rose, Ceanothus/ California Lilac (many groundcover varieties), Erigeron karvinskianus/ Santa Barbara Daisy

Second row, from left: Cistus purpureus/ Orchid Rock Rose, Ceanothus griseus ‘Diamond Heights’/ Variegated Carmel Creeper, Calluna vulgaris ‘Velvet Fascination’ and ‘Dark Beauty’/ Scotch Heather

Third row, from left: Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’/ Scotch Heather, Calluna vulgaris ‘Sister Anne’/ Scotch Heather, Oreganum ‘Aurea’ and Geranium ‘Mavis Simpson’/ Golden Oregano (edible) and Mavis Simpson Hardy Cranesbill

Fourth row, from left: Helianthemum/ Sun Rose (many colors available), Lavandula stoechas/ Spanish Lavender, Grevillea lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’/ Coastal Gem Grevillea

Some other great groundcovers for the sea coast?

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or Kinnikinnick/ Bearberry, a Pacific Northwest native

Rosmarinus prostratus or Creeping Rosemary which attracts honeybees and hummingbirds

Flower Carpet Roses, particularly the Pink or Appleblossom varieties which seem to be the most vigorous

Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’ or Golden Breath of Heaven – the foliage has a pleasant nutmeg scent when brushed against!

Need more tips on which plants will thrive under tough seacoast conditions?

Shade-Loving Sea Coast Plants

Sun-Loving Perennial Flowers for the Sea Coast

Tips on Gardening in Coastal Conditions

Screens and Hedging Plants for the Sea Coast

Photo credits: Pink Rock Rose by Randy Son of Robert on Flickr, White Rock Rose by dichohecho on Flickr

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica the Garden Faerie May 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Remember the Fiskars soil knife I got gratis from your store? I had a chance to use it over the weekend, digging/cutting out some Aegopodium. It was awesome!


Genevieve May 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Oh, wicked cool, Monica!! That is awesome to hear!! Both that you’re enjoying your soil knife and that you’re getting rid of that dratted Aegopodium. Go you!


stevie May 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Great post – I was looking for a list of great growundcovers because we have chafer beetles eating up turf here – bye bye Vancouver lawns! Thanks for the great info :)


Genevieve May 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Yay, Stevie!! I’m glad we don’t have chafer beetles here. Though if it’s an excuse to buy groundcovers and flower-ify the lawn’s space then I am all for them!! LOL.


Nan Ondra May 26, 2010 at 11:02 am

Such a colorful and inspiring idea gallery, Genevieve. Your shot of Calluna ‘Firefly’ is especially breathtaking. No one who saw any of these images could think that groundcovers are boring!


Genevieve May 26, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Thanks, Nan! It’s lovely of you to stop by and comment! I love those Callunas, too. Thanks for coming up with such an awesome idea for the Design Challenge!


Shirley May 31, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Thanks, our contractor for beach house didn’t put soil removal in the bid, so he gave me a huge berm (40 x 15′ footprint & 15′high). It actually will be nice protection from road noise and nice view for back of house. But how to plant it? Now I’ve decided on heathers & heaths and a few grasses. Thank you for the info and pictures.


Genevieve May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Shirley, what wonderful news! It sounds like it all worked out in the end – even if initially unintended, that berm will be lovely for you. Heathers, heaths and grasses will be great. Just make sure you prune your heaths and heathers yearly – they don’t need much care, but Callunas and Daboecias in particular benefit from a quick yearly shear in fall or early winter.


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