Do you like to be beside the seaside?
If, like us, your answer is yes, then this article is for you.
We’ve rounded up eleven fantastic tips and tricks to make your garden feel a little bit more seaside-y.
These ideas range from big to small, meaning that there should be something here for everyone. The list is designed to intrigue and inspire, and to hopefully plant the creative seeds that will blossom into your very own garden design projects.
Let’s get started…
1. Use driftwood
There’s something really special about finding a piece of wood on the beach, smoothed and worn by its time drifting amongst the waves. It’s definitely wood you’re holding, but the look and feel is different enough to tell a very distinct story.
These strong evocative properties are a great way to bring a seaside atmosphere into your garden, by playing with themes that people expect to see (wood) but with a very clear reference point to the sea and beachside scenery.
The image above shows vertical pieces of worn driftwood used as a boundary for a path and flowerbeds, but you’ve got tons of options. You could go for a functional use like in this picture, or a more decorative one; for example, scattering bits of driftwood amongst flowers in a bed, or even hanging them on a wall so they function something like a piece of art.
2. Use seashells
Here’s a less subtle way of bringing seaside themes into your garden: cover a section of the space with shells, either intact or broken up. This is an acquired taste and doesn’t work well in all settings, but done right, it’s a great way to subvert expectations. Where someone would usually see gravel, stone, or some other non-grass surface, instead they’ll see something distinctly beachy.
We recommend buying shells in bulk rather than taking them from the beach, both because of the convenience and to protect the environment.
3. Use pebbles
If you want a beachy surface but don’t fancy the look of shells (or the thought of walking on them!) then pebbles could be a good way to go. Head to any stony beach in the UK and you’ll see the familiar view of thousands upon thousands of loose pebbles nestled on top of each other, the result of millennia of geological upheaval.
Replicating this aesthetic in your garden is another reliable way to anchor the mind in a more beachy place than a well-kempt lawn would.
4. Get some rattan
If you’ve ever been to a beachside cafe in Greece, Thailand, or somewhere equally exotic, odds are high that you’ll have seen some rattan furniture. We don’t know whether it’s because of the way it looks, the competitive price, or some other factor, but we do know that rattan is a good way to build on beachy themes.
Whether it’s an end table like the image above or a full suite of rattan furniture, your garden is guaranteed to feel that little bit more seaside-y.
5. Sun loungers!
You’re probably wondering why it’s taken us this long to get to sun loungers, considering they’re perhaps the most quintessentially British seaside furniture imaginable. From Camber Sands to Southend-on-Sea, the humble sun lounger has supported many a British sunbathers’ buttocks and back as they soak in the sunny rays. Bringing this experience into your garden will definitely create a seaside atmosphere.
Just make sure to put on sun cream before you get down to the important business of lounging!
Continuing the theme of quintessential places to sit at the beach, here’s something a little more exotic. While you probably won’t see many hammocks in the British seaside resort towns we’ve just mentioned, you’re almost guaranteed to see them in Greece, Thailand, and those other more exotic places.
So, depending on the seaside vibe you’re looking to create, you may prefer to erect a hammock rather than a sun lounger. Both are comfortable, but each contributes to an undeniably different aesthetic!
If you’ve not got two trees in your garden, fear not: hammocks can be anchored on walls and other surface. Just make sure they’re securely attached, and that you follow any installation directions – we don’t want to be held responsible for any injuries caused by collapsing hammocks!
7. Nautical flowerbeds
Another way to create a seaside theme is to play with shapes and forms you’d expect to see at the beach. Boats are a perfect example of this, and while the image above shows a concrete flower bed in the shape of a boat, you could even consider getting hold of an actual rowboat – ideally worn by years at sea – and repurposing it as a flower bed in your garden.
This upcycling approach can also be applied to buckets, buoys, and anything else nautical themed that you can get your hands on.
8. Incorporate a sandpit
Here’s one for the kids, and especially those who live too far from the seaside to make regular visits possible.
As a youngster, playing in the sand is the unparalleled best bit of a day at the beach. Building sandcastles, burying things, and generally getting sand all over the place are all games with a lot to offer. And if you don’t get to go to the beach often, adding a sandpit to your garden is an excellent way to make these games more readily available.
While this isn’t likely to do much for the grownups, vicariously experiencing the fun your kids are having is a close approximation to a day at the beach.
9. Paint things white
We’re not sure why, but using a lot of white paint creates an atmosphere very evocative of the seaside. Perhaps it reminds us of beach huts, or maybe it’s something more general, but liberal use of the colour is a sure-fire way to strengthen your beachy theme.
The picture above shows a shed, a chair, a fence, and a trellis in white, and all of them together don’t overwhelm the senses. We’ll leave it up to you to decide how much white paint you want to use, but take our word for it that it will make things feel more seaside-y. Especially when used in tandem with some of the suggestions above.
10. Choose beachy plants
While a beach might not feel like the best place for plants to thrive, there are certain species that can do perfectly well in a dry, sandy environment. And if you’re trying to get a seaside look and feel in your garden, these are the plants you’ll want to include.
Whether you go for the odd seaside plant here and there, or decide to put together a giant seaside display, you’ve got a lot of options. We recommend taking a look at the plants on the Royal Horticultural Society’s plant finder tool that can thrive in sandy soil.
11. Display items from the beach
Whatever your motivation for choosing a seaside aesthetic in your garden, it’s likely that you’ll want to display bits and bobs you’ve found at the beach. Depending on your tastes this could include shells, starfish, bits of wood, interesting pieces of plastic, seaweed, and more. Combining these individual finds into mobiles or other displays is a fantastic way to evoke the seaside, and the only limit here is your creativity.
We’ve seen artists make beautiful compositions from pieces of plastic they’ve found washed up on their local beach, and we’ve seen mirrors framed with fascinating medleys of driftwood and seashells. Follow your creative vision and you’ll be able to create some lovely pieces to really cement that beach theme in your garden.
Be beside the seaside from the comfort of your own garden
Going to the beach is lovely, sure. But for a lot of us it’s a long drive to get there, giving a certain appeal to bringing some of the most captivating aesthetic elements of the seaside to your own garden. That way you can enjoy the ambience without having to sit in the car for several hours, and without the hordes of tourists all trying to do the same thing.
The ideas in this list should give you a jump-off point for making your garden that little bit more seaside-y. We hope you’re feeling inspired, and we’d love to see what you come up with when you get to work!