How to Design Coastal Gardens for Australian Climates

Jul 26, 2022

There is no doubt that Australia has some of the most beautiful coasts in the world. Knowing this, you’ll want your coastal garden to fit in with its amazing surroundings. 

When designing your garden and landscaping, you should take a few things into account. Have you thought about what plants suit your climate, or how to plan out a coastal garden bed? 

Whether you’re on the Eastern Sydney cliffs or the majestic Sunshine Coast beaches, this blog can help you. We will cover some beautiful indigenous plants and give you handy design tips to ensure the garden’s style suits its surroundings.

Design tips

When designing your garden you’ll inevitably have to take into account the overall shape and design. Lines and forms are imperative to any coastal garden and will need careful planning to ensure it looks and feels right. 

Feeling spacious without being sparse is one of the key themes. Large covering garden beds allow room for paths, and general social areas are perfect for the more expansive garden. For smaller ones, keep it simple. Go for garden beds that don’t hog up too much room, and that have a few key plants as focus points. 

Keeping to a more open and natural design allows you to admire your beautiful garden, but also lets the surrounding landscape perfectly complement your home. 

Shape and form

Coastal gardens look great with natural flowing designs that follow the landscape. Try to avoid harsh lined gardens, and instead allow them to grow into more curved shapes. Garden beds look great if they have a central piece that grabs attention. Some great ideas include a water feature, a sculpture or even a simple boulder with an attractive shape.

Path lines

Your pathway is as important as the general shape of the garden. To continue with the natural feel of your coastal garden design, use gentle and soft curves for pathways. These curvy shapes will match your garden beds perfectly. You don’t want to have any straight lines throughout that add an unwanted utilitarian feel. 

Mediterranean stone pathways are perfect for almost any coastal garden, as they have an exotic, yet earthy feel to them. The diversity in the stones’ shapes, paradoxically adds uniformity to any coastal garden by tying it all together. 

Visual balance

As with any landscaping project you will want to have visual balance. By this we mean, there should be common features throughout the garden, such as a plant that is in almost every bed. 

A great way to do this is with a ground cover plant. The carpobrotus rossii is a great option. This hardy little native succulent can grow almost anywhere across Australia and has a beautiful white bloom. They work great as a border to a garden or placed as a general ground covering plant. 

Choose the right plants

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There is a lot that goes into picking the right plants to ensure your coastal garden looks great. Australian climates are unique, so it’s generally a good idea to stick to native coastal plants. This doesn’t mean there is no variety, or interesting plants to pick from, as there are numerous native plants in Australia.

Even though all coastal gardens have the seaside in common, you still need to take into account the kind of climate you’re living in. So it’s a good idea to choose suitable native plants that grow in your area. 

Tropical climates

For a tropical garden, fan palms, and kangaroo paws are perfect. Nothing screams Australian tropics quite like these. 

Fan palms have an amazing two-metre coverage that is great as a property bordering plant. They’re an easy-to-grow plant that can reach surprising heights and size, and are perfect for adding that coastal palm feeling typical of the tropics. 

The kangaroo paw is a tropical staple plant that shows off one of the most quirky and unique flower designs. They offer a pop of red colour, to add visual depth to your surroundings. 

Temperate climates

If you’re in the temperate areas of coastal Australia, banksia and bottle brushes should be among your top picks. 

The banksia offers an iconic Australian flower shape, and is also a great source of food for native wildlife. If you want to encourage local birds to visit your home, throw in some banksia plants. 

Bottle brushes do have some visual similarities to the banksia, but offer a softer touch and look. They also have sweet nectar which is very attractive to bees and butterflies. 

Dry climates

Dry climates in Australia are notoriously harsh to plants. It’s a good idea to pick plants that are hardy and designed for the dry Australian weather. 

The correa shrub is a good choice as they’re drought resistant, and have beautiful bell-shaped red flowers. Along with attracting wildlife to your garden, they’re also extremely hardy and disease-proof. 

For visual interest, echeveria are succulents that are made for arid and dry climates. Not only are they fantastic stone flowers, but they also have some interesting properties to them. If you’re in an area that is prone to bushfires, these are a great choice as they are fire retardants. This means that if there’s a bushfire, they’re less likely to let the fire spread past them. 

Hire the experts

Now that you have some design ideas, it’s only right to put your newfound knowledge into action. You may still not know where to begin, and that’s where we come in with our landscaping services. Your coastal garden project needs the right people, and at Waddell Landscape Design & Construction we have years of experience! We will help you every step of the way and turn your coastal garden design into reality.  


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