Gardening by the seashore
Unlike gardeners who battle road salt for only a few months of the year, coastal gardeners have the year-round challenge of battling windblown salt spray and gardening on excessively fast-draining sand dunes or impermeable rocks. Even foggy weather can carry salt-laden moisture onto plants. In extreme cases, plants are subjected to salt-contaminated groundwater, too.
After a major storm, seaside gardeners should immediately start irrigating their soil and plants for a few minutes to flush away salt. If salt water has flooded the area, deeper leaching is needed; depending on the extent of flooding and the amount of sand present, irrigation may be required for several hours. The sooner sodium is diluted in the groundwater around plants, the better their chances of survival. Watch for signs of distress—wilting or browning leaf edges, which can occur within a few days or weeks.
Building a windbreak or choosing tough, halophytic plants (those adapted to saline conditions) is a good strategy for seaside gardeners. Plant a dense, multi-layered, evergreen and deciduous windbreak (such as blue spruce or Austrian pine) as the first line of defence from the elements. This permeable barrier (often sturdier and longer-lasting than a fence) will slow the wind and trap salt spray before it reaches tender plants farther inland.
Image from istock/Terry Wilson
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