You may not have access to crashing surf and seagulls, but you can choose yard plants for a beach look. Salt and drought tolerant grasses, perennials and evergreens are adaptable to most suburban yards and require minimal care and upkeep. Add a few nautically-themed garden accents and you can vacation at home with a beach-inspired landscape plan.
Dune grass (Ammophila breviligulata Fernald), also known as beach grass, takes its name from the Greek words for "sand loving" and is best grown in very sandy soil. Credible substitutes, however, can be found in ornamental grasses such as feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora), plume grass (Erianthus ravennae) and perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides). These species can be grown in a wide range of soil types and climates.
Prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) is a low-growing, flowering and fruiting cactus that can be used to make jam. Its pad-like surfaces are covered in nearly invisible spines, so use caution when handling this plant.
Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a hardy shrub that tolerates drought and salt. Content in full sun or partial shade, the female plant produces aromatic, waxy berries that are used in candle making.
Nothing says beach like a swaying palm tree. Surprisingly, there are some cold-hardy palms for gardeners in the cooler zones. The Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) can reach heights of 40 feet and according to Floridata.com, it will withstand subfreezing temperatures.
Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergiana) are common along both coasts. Shaped by the ocean's winds, these tree often take on a sculptural quality. Black pines grow to a height of 25 feet with a similar spread.
Add some nautical accents to your landscape plan to further the beach theme. Incorporate shells and beach glass into a mosaic stepping stone kit (available at most craft stores). Substitute dune fence (narrow-slatted fencing often sold as "snow fence" in other areas) for more traditional fencing. Use anchors and buoys as garden accents and add a lighthouse-shaped bird feeder to complete the scene.