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Beginner Seaside Gardener

Posted by Richard392 6b (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 19, 13 at 12:17

I am a beginner gardener directly on the ocean in Hull, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. Full exposure to salty air and winter Nor'easters. I appreciate any advise on appropriate shrubs, grasses and perennials and annuals. Thank you.

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RE: Beginner Seaside Gardener

How far from the water is the most inland portion of your lot? How "hands on" a gardener are you? What is the elevation? Is it the sheltered side of Hull? Is salt spray or erosion an issue?

My parents live on the coast and occasionally lose trees and land during hurricanes.

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management has a great page listing plants that survive salt spray and help with erosion.

For the most coastal side of your land, I like Beach Plums. They are a New England Native, they flower, they produce fruit, they are super salt tolerant. They are one of the few things I can successfully plant and ignore, and which will survive without follow up care. (I have a terrible brown thumb and a habit of planting things in my parent's yard, where I can't water them often) Unfortunately they look a little scrubby and are hard to find, but you can't have everything.

The Plymouth County Soil Conservation District has an annual sale every Spring where they sell cheap Beach Plum saplings and American Beach Grass. Get on their mailing list.

Others have suggested Bayberry, a salt tolerant native that produces berries and fixes nitrogen. Also looks kinda scrubby. Bearberry (different plant) is a low, slow growing, salt tolerant groundcover that has been recommended to me. I've had less luck with those (See brown thumb comment above) but see a lot of Bayberry growing around.

Virginia Rose is super salt tolerant, and produces both fragrant roses and rose hips. Can grow right on the beach. Beware the invasive (but pretty) Rugosa Rose.

Eastern Red Ceder isn't a pretty tree, but is super salt tolerant and has berries birds like. It's a lot like arbor vitae, and can be planted in rows as a privacy fence.

I've had a lot of luck with holly, which is one of the few plants that consistently survives my "plant and abandon" strategy.

White Pine is a fairly pretty tree that is fairly salt tolerant.
Pitch Pine is a somewhat ugly tree that is VERY salt tolerant.

Stay away from Black Pine! All the websites say they are salt tolerant, but turpentine beetles and a disease have killed all of them off in this area. They can only survive around here now with the help of a lot of pesticides. They also drip sap that destroys car paint particularly fast.

Many varieties of Spruce seem to do decently if they have like 50 feet between them and the water.

Rhododendron is fairly salt tolerant and tough as well. Hydrangea and lilacs seem to do decently if you don't plant them right on the water. Trumpet vines do great and *I* like them, but other complain about how they spread.

The closest good plant supply place to you I know of is: Seoane Landscape Design, Inc. and Garden Center

but there is probably some place closer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Massachusetts Office of Coastal Management

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