Rather than fighting against sea spray or saline soils, the trick with salty gardening is to choose plants that have originated in coastal zones around the world.
There is something for everyone’s taste that will not only survive but thrive as well. You may prefer a native feel that will blend in with remnant bushland in your area and provide a wildlife corridor for you to observe and enjoy. Trees such as coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia), Norfolk Island hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonii) and weeping myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) are ideal for providing front line protection while shrubs such as coast rosemary (Westringia fruticosa) and coast tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) will provide a dense storey.
Native ground covers such as fan flower (Scaevola aemula and S. albida), and strawflower (Bracteantha ‘Diamond Head’) will provide colour for most of the year. Some of the best groundcover plants for surviving and thriving in salty environments are the Australian native succulents such as Disphyma and Carpobrotus. They also have good soil stabilising qualities, and large silky flowers in white, pinks and purples.
There are also a host of exotic species that will perform well even in the harshest of coastal conditions. The spectacular New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa) is smothered in bright red around December and January. The Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) is ideal as a shade or screen tree for larger gardens. Colourful shrubs such as hibiscus, oleander (Nerium oleander) and Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis x delacourii) can be complemented by lower growing favourites such as marguerite daisies (Argyranthemum frutescens), agapanthus and pelargoniums in all manner of colours.
The tip to choosing plants for a coastal garden is to look at the foliage. Grey leaf plants, ones with needle shaped or leathery foliage and succulents are built to take wind and salt.
Take a look at my Plant Search page to find a selection of plants suited to surviving and thriving with salinity. The ‘plant environment’ section has a ‘coastal garden’ selection, and the ‘soil type’ box has a ‘saline’ selection, both of which will find great plants for salty spots.