Coastal landscapes face additional pressures from things like high winds, floods, salty air and so forth. In order to overcome coastal landscape challenges, certain precautions must be taken during the installation process.
Super storms are bigger than ever before. Recent super storms have caused a shift of attention towards building structures near hazardous coastal environments that can actually withstand these challenges. Even on a good day, coastal properties face a variety of challenges from the salty air and intense sun. Add assaulting winds, hurricanes, floods, tropical storms and storm surges on top of daily wear and tear.
Failing to use the appropriate landscaping materials will result in quick degradation of landscaping and costly repairs and replacement. It’s so important for architects and landscape designers to pick the right types of plants and installation techniques in order to ensure the long-term survival of coastal landscaping.
#1. Use Native Coastal Plants
First and foremost, you want to select native coastal plants that are naturally capable of surviving harsh winds, salty air and all of the other extremes faced by coastal plants. Native vegetation lowers the cost of maintenance and irrigation, plus native plants are more likely to bounce back following a storm or even a hurricane. Utilizing native plants also encourages local wildlife to flourish.
An LAF Case Study Investigation included site analysis of several coastal properties in South Florida, all of which were found to incur big time benefits from native plants. One of the properties included in the study was 1100 Block Streetscape of Lincoln Road Mall. This property faced coastal issues as well as challenges associated with heavy urban environments. The redesign involved adding 30-40 foot native canopy trees that were transplanted directly on site. The trees provided immediate shade to the public plaza because they were full-grown at the time they were transplanted. The fact that they are a native species (live oaks and bald cypresses) continues to help ensure their survival no matter what Florida’s wild coastal weather throws their way.
Beach sand is not the most fertile soil and doesn’t retain moisture very well, making it rather undesirable for most plant types. The goal is to find plants with multiple tolerances. According to Meg Whitmer, CEO of Meg Whitmer Landscape Architecture located in Tampa, Florida, “I use hardy plants that can withstand high winds, salt spray (if applicable), flooding, drought, sandy alkaline soil and cold tolerant.” She adds, “Most of these plants are native, but several ornamentals are also hardy enough for coastal location if planted in the right place.”
Depending on where you are located, different plants do better than others. For instance, in the Pacific Northwest, succulents and grasses such as Miscanthus and Mexican Feather Grass do very well in coastal environments. While red mother of thyme makes a hardy ground covering. If you aren’t a huge fan of how hardy plants look, use them as a protective barrier surrounding more ornamental plants closer to the home or building.
#2. Be Familiar With Coastal Lighting Regulations
Coastal lighting is regulated in regards to the creatures we share the land with. Bright lights that shine all night can distract coastal marine animals and even jeopardize their survival. For instance, in the Hamptons local regulations against lighting prevent home owners and business owners from putting lights too far from their home or building, and never near the dunes. While in Florida, there are similar regulations in place, largely revolving around sea turtles.
Lighting fixtures should be strategically placed close to the structure to prevent interference with nature as much as possible.
#3. Use Hardy Hardscapes
If waves repeatedly crash down on your property, it will wash away your hardscapes within a relatively short amount of time. 2-inch gravel walkways are a great solution because they are not easily displaced. Plus, since they are not set into place it’s much easier to make repairs and replace as needed. Try using large stones with an aggregate to help hold everything together.
#4. Make The Switch To Resin-Based Materials
Avoid metals because they are quick to rust and corrode from the salty moist air. Our resin-based materials are incredibly durable and non-permeable, which means no salt or water is able to seep within materials and cause damage. Everything from planters to site furnishings to lampposts lasts a lot longer when made from our unique resin-based material.
Learn more about the benefits of our resin-based products: https://www.terracastproducts.com/why-resin/
#5. Invest In Structures That Can Survive High Powered Winds
One of the biggest challenges is creating structures capable of standing up to the dramatic winds that pick up during hurricanes and other large-scale storms. When winds can easily reach over 100 miles per hour, sheds, buildings and any other structures must be reinforced with a steel moment frame.
High forced winds come with high-flying debris capable of shattering windows and letting the storm inside. Windows should be equipped with easy to use storm shutters, or other approved measures, in order to protect against windborne debris. An impact-rated glazing may be suitable to windows that are less prone to damage, while motorized roll-down shutters are a great way to protect windows at greater risk for damage.
It’s important that all of your structures, site furnishings and landscaping materials are able to withstand getting pummeled by sand, chairs or anything else that gets caught up in the wind. The majority of commercial and residential lighting fixtures, planters and site furnishings are not capable of withstanding these types of forces. TerraCast Products are highly durable, making them ideal in some of the toughest environments.
#6. Work With The Breeze For Unexpected Benefits
While wind can be viewed as a negative factor, you can actually use it to your advantage. Incorporate plants that flow with the wind, such as long grasses and other loosely textured plants. As a result, your landscape will flow with the wind and create a lot of natural movement.
Should You Build On The Coast?
Some argue that homes and other buildings shouldn’t be built in risky coastal areas. Others argue the key is to position structures so that they respect the native landscape and ensure structural resilience and longevity.
TerraCast Products are built to withstand just about anything, including extreme coastal weather. Let us help you create winning coastal landscapes that last for many years to come, no matter how many storms blow onto shore.