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Outdoor Nautical Landscaping Ideas

By Jennifer Blair ; Updated September 21, 2017
In a nautical yard, authentic boating accessories make better garden decorations than the usual gnome.

You don't have to live near the beach to have an ocean-inspired landscape. Adding a little nautical flair to the yard can give the outside of your home plenty of charm. Pulling off the look means focusing on a few key elements that evoke the sea, but don't go overboard with the theme or you'll run the risk of going more kitschy than classy.

Add Accessories

Include a few seafaring accessories in landscaping to boost the yard's nautical appeal. Transform an old rowboat or canoe into a planter or decorate a garden wall with a few antique ship's wheels or anchors. Instead of traditional garden fencing, press a series of old oars into the soil to separate flower beds. Buoys also make whimsical landscape decor; brighten up a bare garage or deck wall by hanging a few across it. Just don’t overload the yard with nautical accessories or it may look too busy -- pick one or two styles for a subtle look.

Incorporate Seashells

Give the yard an ocean-front feel by adding seashells to the landscape. Whole shells make eye-catching decorations for a garden – use them as a border around flower beds or fill a large pot to create a centerpiece. Crushed seashells can also make an effective mulch for the garden while adding maritime charm to the setting. Put down crushed shells in place of gravel or wood chips for garden paths, walkways or even the driveway.

Use Coastal Plants

Incorporating plants typically found in coastal areas can help give the landscape a more nautical look. Ornamental grasses work well because they mimic the look of grasses you might find in dunes near the shore. Switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’), which is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 to 9, and eulalia (Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'), also hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, are just two examples. Planting a beach plum (Prunus maritima), hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7, can also add a seaside feeling to the landscape; these plants not only produce blooms but fruit that can be made into jams and jellies.

Choose Boating Materials

When you're choosing materials for the landscape, opt for items that might be found on or around a boat. Instead of picket or wrought iron garden fencing, mark off flower beds or walkways with rope fencing. Opt for a single rope style connected by piling-like posts every few feet or solid net fencing that only has a few posts. Or edge garden beds and paths with weathered wood or pieces of driftwood to add a little seafaring character to the yard. If you want to cover a patio or deck, forget a traditional vinyl awning and go with a shade sail instead. It is designed to look like the sails on a boat.

 

About the Author

 

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.