The perfect plants for coastal areas

plants for coastal conditionsYour trees and hedging plants survive a myriad of hardships thrown at them by our UK weather conditions.  But, when planting in coastal areas, you have a whole host of other considerations to expect, too.  Don’t be put off though, we’ve got the perfect plants to help!

Coastal areas suffer from air laden with salt, torrential rain, howling gales and much higher light levels than inland, as well as heightened temperatures.  Throw in shallow, dry soil and shale and rocks beneath the surface and you’d think you’d be asking a lot from your planting projects.

BUT! Although coastal conditions can seem harsh and unforgiving, you can create a shelter belt for softer species by planting a tough layer of salt and wind-tolerant shrubs and trees.  This way, you get a double helping of plants as your more exotic and tender species get a sturdy barrier of greenery to fend off the elements.  The coastal weather does its worst in the spring just as new growth is emerging so it’s vitally important to have healthy, vigorous plants that can recover this spring shock and equally important to carry out plenty of staking.

We’ve selected some of our best coastal companions from our range of trees and hedging:


Common Alder – Alnus glutinosa

A fast-growing, medium-sized native tree found all over Britain, especially in wet places. Very hardy and coping with a wide range of soil types, Alder is particularly useful for preventing soil erosion, and for establishing plantings in waterlogged areas. Young plants are seldom attacked by rabbits or stock, so makes a good choice where this could be a problem.


Norway Maple – Acer platanoides

This handsome, fast-growing tree has attractive sharply pointed leaves which turn deep golden yellow in autumn.  It is commonly planted as a specimen tree and in shelter-belts all over the country.  It’s another tough plant which thrives on most sites, is good in exposed areas and in acid soils.


Common Dogwood – Cornus sanguinea

The dogwood, a British native, is a very upright suckering shrub with good autumn colour and reddish stems in winter.  It will grow in almost any soil and is particularly useful for damp sites and is ideal in mixed wildlife hedges, making an effective barrier along watersides and coastal sites.

Hazel - Corylus avellana

Hazel – Corylus avellana

Hazel is an attractive, fast-growing multi-stemmed shrub or small tree with their tell-tale Spring-is-on-its-way large yellow catkins in February. With a good rounded shape and gorgeous leaves with yellow autumn colour, it tolerates shade and copes well with coastal conditions, too.


Common Hawthorn – Crataegus monogyna

A familiar favourite across Britain,it’s best known as a country hedge but also makes an excellent small garden tree with good wildlife value. It quickly makes a very effective, dense and thorny stock-proof hedge and is very tough and hardy, coping well with strong winds on exposed hillsides and coastal sites.

Sea Buckthorn - Hippophae rhamnoides

Sea Buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides

A very attractive, tall, suckering shrub, found growing wild on sand dunes and coastal sites. With narrow, silvery leaves and striking orange berries in autumn, remaining all winter, it has a long season of interest.  It will grow in almost any soil, but is particularly tolerant of very sandy, dry conditions.  It copes well with strong winds on exposed sites, and with salt spray.

Purple Osier Willow - Salix purpurea

Purple Osier Willow – Salix purpurea

Sturdy enough for the coastal weather conditions, this is an attractive, fast-growing native deciduous shrub with a spreading, bushy habit.  Its arching reddish-purple stems and slender glossy green leaves give your planting year-round interest and brings life and movement in windy situations. It also makes for excellent waterside planting.

Osier Willow - Salix viminalis

Osier Willow – Salix viminalis

This fast-growing native shrub is often found in wet or damp situations in the countryside. The young stems are yellow in spring, and the yellow-green catkins attract a variety of insects.  It is a strong performer on wet and boggy soils as well as in chalk and coastal areas.

Rowan - Sorbus aucuparia

Rowan/Mountain Ash – Sorbus aucuparia

One of our prettiest native trees with delicate leaves, the Rowan creates a light canopy, clusters of creamy flowers, scarlet-orange berries and good autumn leaf colour. Thoroughly hardy and trouble-free to grow, it has excellent wildlife value and is good at high altitudes and in exposed conditions.

You can search our full range or use our plant filter to find trees, shrubs and hedging by height, growth rate, soil type and other  characteristics.  Alternatively, there’s always an A-Z plant index to help you, too.

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