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How to: Seaside gardening tips

Brisk winds and salt spray can enhance the experience of living by the seaside. But the same features of coastal living that attract residents can be unkind to many garden plants.

Sun, salt, a light breeze and some sand may make for a picturesque day at the beach, but they can be anything but favorable to the delicate plants and flowers in a garden. Further, the very warm temperatures and arid, sandy soil that are typical of seaside locales can make planting a lush garden difficult.

Despite the difficulties, coastal living and gardening is possible if you implement some tips for creating a more welcoming environment for plants. Here's how to do just that.

* Set up a windbreak. Whether it's by using native grasses and durable plants that are typically found in coastal areas or an architectural structure, such as a stone wall or fencing, a good windblock will help shelter other plants from blowing sand and salt. Just be sure to plan the windblock to stop most of the oncoming wind in a way that your water views are not compromised.

* Amend the soil. Few things grow well in sandy soil on their own. Unless you're thinking of solely planting cacti and other succulent plants that don't require much water from the soil, it will be necessary to amend the soil to include nutrients and a more hospitable growing base. Sand is good for drainage, but it cannot retain enough moisture to be viable for most plants. Therefore a healthy mix of nutrient-rich soil, compost and fertilizer can provide the right start.

* Consider sun and heat exposure. Select plants that are hardy in warm-weather, full-sun conditions. Drought-tolerant plants are a good idea. Choose among varieties that have waxy leaves to repel salt and sand and low-growing types that will have more protection from the sun. Should you want to plant other flowers and plants, you may have to consider creating shade with moderately-sized bushes or trees. Yucca plants thrive seaside, as does ornamental pampas grass. Brightly colored ice plants and cosmos flowers can add splashes of color.

* Add costal accessories. Typically seaside gardens are enhanced with knicknacks and other items that are specific to coastal living. Pilings with rope, small anchors, sea shells, nautical accents, and much more can be used to fill in bare areas of the garden and create places for birds and other animals to explore.

While there can be some challenges to seaside gardening, it is possible to plant a seaside garden if gardeners choose wisely among heat-, sand- and drought-tolerant plants.