Coastal Gardening on the Outer Banks, and other Coastal Carolina communities

Gardening on the Outer Banks, or any similar North Carolina coastal environment, is not for the weak of heart.

For such a beautiful lush landscape, barrier island gardeners seem to be presented with every conceivable obstacle before they even get their hands dirty: Salt, sandy soil, floods, deer, heat and wind are all legitimate concerns, and it's easy to get discouraged before you even get your plants in the ground.

For people who are just starting out, and particularly those who are used to planting in a more gentle, and welcoming environment, it can be difficult to know where to start: What grows here? Where should they be planted? What's the best way to deal with nature's little surprises, and ensure that the plants you've invested so much time and effort in will grow?

There's no certainty, and there's always the chance that whatever you plant will find it tricky to get used to the coastal environment, but with a little selective choosing and patience your odds of turning a grassy backyard into a semi-tropical oasis will definitely increase. Above all else, don't get discouraged. "Trial and error" is the key to finding the best plants that will prosper in your little corner of the Outer Banks and Coastal North Carolina.

What to plant:

Google "Saltwater Tolerant Plants" and you'll be presented with a long list of seaweeds, sea-grass, and other species that live underwater. But as any spring or summertime drive around the Outer Banks proves, these aren't the only plants that will survive on the coast, even with the occasional sound or oceanside flooding. There are a couple good general ways to figure out what species you can plant, that will do well in tricky conditions.

Check out your neighbors:

The folks closest to you are clearly gardening in the same conditions. Take a close look at their yards, and what's thriving, and use these facts as a guideline.

When in doubt, ask:

Local plant stores, like Island Garden Center and Seaweeds on Hatteras Island, and Nature's Harmony on Manteo, bordering the Outer Banks, are well aware of what works and what doesn't. If you're not sure, ask before you buy. There's no shame in getting a little guidance.

The Elizabethan Gardens is also an exceptional place to start your research, as it showcases a variety of plants that thrive on the Outer Banks and in maritime forests, and best of all, they feature an adjacent plant shop with locally grown souvenirs to take home. On occasion, they even have plant sales for special holidays, like Mother's and Father's Day, and this is the perfect time to pick up a couple plants to take home.

Go Local:

For barren yards that need a little green, start with the species that are indigenous to Outer Banks and other Coastal North Carolina communities: Yaupon, Cedars, and Live Oaks make lovely and striking additions to any landscape. (Live Oaks can be a little tricky to transplant, but once established, they have a phenomenally high growth rate for the first 15 years.) For color, gorgeous daisy-like red and yellow "Jo-Bells" can brighten up your yard and flourish everywhere on the coast.

More Information:

Terms: Coastal Gardening on the Outer Banks

Coastal Gardening on the Outer Banks

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