By creating a native buffer of plants between your house and the shore, you can reduce lawn area, conserve water, reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, filter sediments and pollutants, stabilize soils, and help preserve wildlife values. The coastal bank landscape profile below shows a coastal bank viewed from the water that has been landscaped according to the coastal bank landscape plan that follows. The plant list at the bottom of the page gives a complete list of all of the species used within the plan (as indicated by the appropriate plant icon).

The plants in this design are well adapted to sunny areas and are resistant to dry conditions, wind, and salt spray. Some of the shrubs chosen, such as beach plum, will remain fairly small due the severity of the environment, yet if grown in high-nutrient soils, these shrubs can grow much taller (as much as 10-12 feet). Because most homeowners want to preserve coastal views, the smaller size of the shrubs is advantageous. Most of the plants included are native species, but those that are non-natives are noted as "not native."

The design provides for a pervious-paver driveway and an irregular flagstone walkway, which allow rain water to infiltrate into the ground, preventing runoff that may otherwise cause erosion of the bank. Because coastal homeowners often want to maintain some lawn area, a lawn is included in this plan. However, lawn grasses provide very little storm-damage protection and wildlife benefit. In addition, maintaining a lawn may actually worsen erosion problems when excess water from irrigation systems drains towards the bank or causes groundwater seepages to undermine bank stability. Lawn areas should therefore be kept as small as possible and permanent irrigation systems should not be used.

Coastal Bank Landscape Profile

Sample Landscape Plan for a Coastal Bank

Coastal Bank Landscape Profile by Betsy Rickards

Coastal Bank Landscape Plan

Sample Landscape Plan for a Coastal Bank

Coastal Bank Landscape Plan by Betsy Rickards

Plant List for Coastal Bank Landscape Plan

Plant iconBotanical nameCommon nameHeightValue
Perennials and grasses
American BeachgrassAmmophila breviligulataAmerican Beachgrass2-3'Ideal grass for coastal stabilization due to deep spreading roots, quick colonization, and salt tolerance. (native)
Big BluestemAndropogon gerardiiBig Bluestem4-8'Hardy upright grass with interesting seed heads that resemble a turkey’s foot and leaves that change colors throughout the seasons. (native)
Pink TickseedCoreopsis roseaPink Tickseed1-2'Low-maintenance, small, flowering perennial with attractive pink, daisy-like flowers. It can spread by rhizomes or self-seeding. (native)
Purple LovegrassEragrostis spectabalisPurple Lovegrass1-3'Versatile and low-maintenance ornamental grass that grows in an open cluster with attractive reddish-purple blooms. (native)
Eastern Showy AsterEurybia spectabilisEastern Showy Aster1-2'Easy-to-grow, drought- and salt-tolerant perennial with showy clusters of violet flowers that bloom from August to October. (native)
Switch GrassPanicum virgatumSwitchgrass3-6'Perennial, clump-forming, warm-season grass with open lacy sprays, reddish-purple seedheads, and deep roots that make it an ideal soil stabilizer. (native)
Little BluestemSchizachyrium scopariumLittle Bluestem18”-3’Adaptable grass that is useful for re-vegetation, soil stability, food for birds, and cover for wildlife. (native)
imageSolidago odoraSweet Goldenrod2-5'Adaptable and hardy perennial with aromatic leaves and attractive bright yellow clusters of flowers that bloom from late summer to mid fall. (native)
Salt Meadow CordgrassSpartina patensSaltmeadow Cordgrass1-3'Perennial grass that tolerates regular inundations of saltwater and spreads by long slender rhizomes. (native)
Shrubs and groundcovers
BearberryArctostaphylos uva-ursiBearberry6-12”Hardy, low-growing evergreen groundcover/shrub that is a good soil stabilizer and has attractive bright red berries that are readily eaten by birds. (native)
Big Leaf HydrangeaHydrangea macrophyllaBigleaf Hydrangea3-6’Fast-growing, deciduous shrub that is tolerant of salt and shade and has attractive, large, colorful flowers. (not native; native to Japan)
Common JuniperJuniperus communis var. depressaCommon Juniper4’Dense, spreading, evergreen groundcover/shrub that is useful for erosion control and often found on gravelly slopes and rocky seaside locations. (native)
Northern BayberryMyrica pensylvanicaNorthern Bayberry2-6’Salt-tolerant, semi-evergreen shrub with berries that are eaten by birds. (native)
Beach PlumPrunus maritimaBeach Plum7-14’Salt-tolerant, deciduous shrub with deep roots, white flowers, and edible fruits. (native)
Arrowwood ViburnumViburnum dentatumArrowwood Viburnum5-9’Hardy shrub that is adaptable to a variety of conditions and has fruit valuable for birds. (native)
NannyberryViburnum lentagoNannyberry10-18’Deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that blooms early in the summer and has attractive fall foliage. (native)
Trees
Red MapleAcer rubrum ‘Red Sunset’Red Maple40-70’Fast-growing, deciduous tree with brilliant fall color. (native)
Eastern Red CedarJuniperus virginianaEastern Red Cedar10-40’Large evergreen tree that is drought- and salt-tolerant, with berries valuable to wildlife. (native)
Black CherryPrunus serotinaBlack Cherry60-90’Rapid growing tree that is drought- and salt-tolerant, with pendulous branches, fragrant flowers, and berries for wildlife. (native)

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