Found predominantly along sea coasts or tidal rivers and estuaries, salty soils occur when sodium builds up in the soil. In most areas where rainfall is above 20 inches per year, salt accumulation is rare because the sodium is quickly leached from the soil. However, even in some of these areas, runoff from winter salted roads and sidewalks and salt spray from passing vehicles can create a microclimate in need of salt resistant gardens.
Growing Salt Resistant Gardens
If you have coastal garden where sea salt will be a problem, don’t despair. There are ways to combine gardening with salt water soil. Salt tolerant shrubs can be used to form wind or splash breaks that will protect less tolerant plants. Trees that tolerate salty soil should be planted closely to protect each other and the soil beneath. Mulch your garden of plants that tolerate salty soil and spray them regularly and thoroughly, particularly after storms.
Plants That Tolerate Salty Soil
Trees That Tolerate Salty Soil
The following is only a partial list of trees that tolerate salty soil. Check with your nursery for size at maturity and sun requirements.
Thornless Honey Locust
Eastern Red Cedar
Sand Live Oak
Japanese Black Pine
Shrubs for Salt Resistant Gardens
These shrubs are ideal for gardening with salt water conditions. There are many others with moderate tolerance.
Perennial Plants That Tolerate Salty Soil
There are very few small garden plants that tolerate salty soil in high concentrations.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Moderately Salt Tolerant Perennial Plants
These plants may do well in your garden and sea salt or salt spray will not be a problem if they are well protected.
Hardy Ice Plant
Cheddar Pinks (Dianthus)
Hens and Chicks
Gardening with saltwater conditions can be a problem, but with thought and planning, the gardener will be rewarded with an amazing special place as unique as its surroundings.