What is the best way to plant native plants on a rocky shoreline?


 I have 1,000′ of rocky shore and would like to plant flowering, ground-cover seeds on the spots with soil. Native plants would be best. There are birches and spruce growing in spots.


Lynne Holland, Horticulture Professional

Planting 1000 ft of shoreline is no small project and native plants are the best way to go in my opinion.

There are many ways to approach this but using layers of planting and within those layers, “drifts” of plants will have the most visual impact.  Here is a resource that talks about this technique  (click on the underlined blue text to be taken to the resource)  With a space that large it will be hard to cover quickly so plan on some mulching strategies until things fill in.  Doing a small area well each year is better than doing a large area badly since mistakes are really hard to fix in any garden but at the shore there are so many other factors that impact things

We have a resource Plants for the Maine Landscape which has great plant resources including a listing of plants for a seaside garden. You will have to juggle cost, planting difficulty, and variety.  Planting from seed may be the least expensive but may take the longest and some native plants have very specific specifications.  The Wild Seed Project is a good place to start but our Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification program has additional resources as well under “Step 1” Food for Pollinators.  This can be a fun challenge especially if you plant “spreaders” first and use them to fill in later when you divide them.

Lastly, think about putting in small shrubs and trees.  These plants can serve as a foundation or a winter interest and will hold the ground secure.  Plants all at the same height can be boring. Trees and shrubs also create the structure for vignettes and frame for distant views.