When it comes to landscaping, mother nature has her limits. Not all plants can survive in any environment. Every plant is different and requires different types of soil, climate, levels of nutrition, sunlight, and water to grow and survive. The United States Department of Agriculture has identified eleven different regions in the U.S. based on the area’s climate, rainfall, soil, and topography.

Fairhope, Alabama as well as Mobile, Alabama are categorized in Hardiness Zone 8b. Fairhope and Mobile are located in a coastal zone. A coastal zone is the area where land meets the sea, also called the “coastline” or “seashore”. The coastal region, is the whole area affected by the traits of the coastal zone. Such traits include high temperatures, salty air and water, a long growing season, sandy soil, warm climate, dry conditions, and high winds. These traits make landscaping in areas like Fairhope and Mobile different from other regions. It presents its own challenges but also offers unique landscaping designs and plant selections that other environments cannot sustain. 

Areas near the coast, such as Fairhope and Mobile, are subject to a hot, dry, and salty climate and soil that does not support the lives of many plants, so the first challenge is the limited variety of plants available to grow. Then there are topographical issues such as erosion, sloped land, and poor soil. Erosion is common near large bodies of water, and it can drastically affect your lawn and garden. Landscapers suggest a plant screen to help control and prevent erosion in your yard. Plant screens are made of different kinds of plants, trees, or shrubs to act as a buffer and to protect the rest of your garden and lawn. Plant screens are not only for erosion but help protect plants from winds, salt spray, and too much direct sunlight by providing shade.

The soil in coastal regions is lacking in nutrients and organic materials in the entire region, not only in areas near the shore. For this reason, it is necessary in landscaping to add several inches of topsoil for lawns and at least three inches of organic fertilizer for gardens to adequately supply the nutrients plants need to grow.

Due to the dryness of the climate and soil, regular watering of plants is necessary during the first growing season if you want them to return for several years to come.

Despite difficult conditions, the coastal areas provide plenty of beautiful native plants that create a tropical oasis in your own lawn or garden. Plants indigenous to the gulf adapt to the harsh conditions and survive better than non-native flora, and they improve the area’s biodiversity by also providing local animals with food and shelter.

RESOURCES

Check out these websites for more information on landscaping on the coast and for a detailed chart on suitable plants for a coastal region!

Coastal Landscaping and Plant Chart

Gulf Shores Plant List