By enhancing the natural plantings of a dune and creating a buffer between your house and the dune, you will work in harmony with the natural sedimentary processes of the coastal environment, stabilize sandy soils, reduce lawn area and its accompanying maintenance needs, conserve water, filter sediments and pollutants, and help preserve wildlife values. The dune landscape profile below shows a coastal dune as viewed from the house looking toward the sea that has been landscaped according to the dune landscape plan that follows. This plan incorporates a variety of native grasses, perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, and a few trees that are well suited for a coastal dune environment. The plant list at the bottom of the page gives a complete list of all of the species used within the plan. Most of the plants included are native species, but those that are non-natives are indicated.

The plants in this design are well-adapted to sunny areas and are resistant to dry conditions, wind, salt spray, and sand-overtopping. 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, and are therefore not recommended in dune environments and should be kept as small as possible.

Coastal Dune Landscape Profile

Sample Landscape Plan for a Coastal Dune

Coastal Dune Landscape Profile by Betsy Rickards

Coastal Dune Landscape Plan

Sample Landscape Plan for a Coastal Dune

Coastal Dune Landscape Plan by Betsy Rickards

Plant List for Coastal Dune Landscape Plan

Plant iconBotanical nameCommon nameHeightValue
Perennials and grasses
image Ammophila breviligulataAmerican Beachgrass 2-3'Ideal grass for coastal stabilization due to deep spreading roots, quick colonization, and salt tolerance. (native)
image Cakile edentulaSea Rocket 6-20”Low-growing perennial with fleshy stems and leaves and pale lavender to white flowers that bloom in the summer and are pollinated by bees, flies, beetles, moths, and butterflies. (native)
image Distichlis spicataSpike Grass 1-3'Salt- and drought-tolerant perennial grass that can form dense mats that provides good groundcover and habitat for small animals. (native)
image Lathyrus japonicusBeach Pea sprawlingSprawling perennial vine with showy purple or pink flowers and pods that contain small peas that are eaten by animals, such as deer, mice, and birds. (native)
image Leymus mollisAmerican Dunegrass 4-6’Erosion-control grass with green foliage and inconspicuous yellow flowers and brown seeds, which forms clumps on coastal dunes and beaches. (native)
image Panicum amarumCoastal Panic Grass 3-6’Long-lived grass with an upright and hedge-like form and a deep fibrous root system that stabilizes more sheltered sand dunes—useful for creating wind barriers and wildlife cover. (not native)
image Solidago sempervirensSeaside Goldenrod 3-5’Hardy perennial with fleshy, waxy leaves and bright yellow flowers that provide a striking contrast to the green vegetation. (native)
Shrubs and groundcovers
image Arctostaphylos uva-ursiBearberry 6-12”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)
image Aronia arbutifoliaRed Chokeberry 6-10’Suckering, spreading, colonizing, deciduous shrub with summer flowers, persistent fruit, and colorful fall foliage. (native)
image Hudsonia tomentosaBeach Heather <1’Low-growing perennial/shrub with bright yellow flowers, a carpet-like surface area of scaly leaves that protects the plant from moisture loss and holds the sand in place, and a network of roots that binds the sediments. (native)
image Myrica pensylvanicaNorthern Bayberry 5-7’Salt-tolerant, semi-evergreen shrub with berries that are eaten by birds. (native)
image Prunus maritimaBeach Plum 4-7’Salt-tolerant, deciduous shrub with deep roots, white flowers, and edible fruits. (native)
image Pinus rigidaPitch Pine 20-80’Hardy evergreen tree with persistent cones that mature in the fall. Its tolerance for poor soil conditions makes it useful for reforestation or stabilization where few other trees will grow. (native)

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