Landscaping Plants for Mid to South Atlantic Coastal Areas

Plants along the coastal mid-Atlantic states from Delaware south to Florida need tolerance to salt water mist and sandy soil conditions. Choose plants like those listed here that meet the USDA plant hardiness zone map for your area. The USDA map is available here.

Shrubs can be allowed to spread to their full capacity, thus providing a privacy barrier or the shrubs can be pruned to maintain a preferred height. The flowers listed are suitable for clipping to enjoy in floral arrangements.

Evergreen Trees

Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) reaches about 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Planted in a row, Japanese black pine can create dense privacy or block a less-than-pleasant view. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 5 through 10.

Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is a slender evergreen that is capable of reaching a height of height of 40 feet and width of 8 feet. This evergreen can be used as a wind break and is suitable for planting between closely spaced homes to give privacy to second story decks. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 7 through 9.

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is capable of reaching up to 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide. For added impact, this evergreen can be pruned into unique shapes, like a spiral. Use eastern red cedar as a focal point. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 3 through 9.

BEFORE (above): These side-by-side beach homes most certainly have a wonderful view. The landscape could be improved and privacy achieved with trees, shrubs, or flowering plants. AFTER (below): All of the trees and shrubs and some of the perennials listed in the article have been added to this picture to show possibilities.

Deciduous Trees

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) can reach a height of 70 feet and width of 40 feet. Use ginkgo to provide shade in a location where it will not block the view as it grows. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 3 through 8.

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) can reach a height of 70 feet and width of 60 feet. Use American Beech to provide shade in the landscape where it will not block the view as it grows. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 4 through 8.

Shrubs

Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis umbellata ‘Majestic Beauty’) is an evergreen shrub capable of reaching 10 feet tall and wide. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 7 through 11. Japanese euonymus (Euonymus japonicus) is an evergreen suitable for a hedge to keep wayward beach visitors on the right path. Capable of growing up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, Japanese euonymus can be planted in full sun to part shade in USDA map zones 7 through 10. Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) is evergreen in warmer climates. This cane-like shrub produces fragrant blooms in late summer and can grow up to 12 feet tall. Plant in full sun to part shade in USDA map zones 6 through 9.

Ornamental Grasses

Choose pampas (Cortaderia selloeana) or maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) for landscape areas that can handle a plant that could reach 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, like in front of raised deck to block the view of items stored beneath the deck. Short ornamental grasses, like lyme grass (Leymus arenarius), muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) or sand grass (Spartina bakeri) reach a height of 3 to 4 feet and could be used at the entrance to a pathway, along a pathway or as a focal point. Plant in full sun.

Perennial Flowers

Perennial flowers will come back each year. Every three to four years, dig up the plant and split the clump into two or three new plants to expand the planting area. Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) reaches a height and width of about 2 feet. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 5 though 10. Daylily (Hemerocallis), which can reach up to 4 feet tall, tolerates salty and moist areas in full sun to part shade. Plant in USDA map zones 3 through 9. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) prefers a well drained location in full sun. Plant in USDA map zones 3 through 9. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) can reach 4 feet tall and spread 2 to 3 feet wide. Plant in full sun in USDA map zones 3 through 10.

The following perennial plants, which reach a height of 1 foot or less in sun to part shade, can be planted in flower boxes or planters to display on a deck or by the front door: Dwarf Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’) for USDA map zones 8 through 10. Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) for USDA map zones 5 through 9. Verbena (Verbena canadensis) for USDA map zones 6 through 9.