Summers in the Outer Banks can be absolutely stunning, but summer landscaping can be a bit of a challenge. Enthusiasts want plants, shrubs and flowers that are sturdy enough to stand up to the barrier island’s summer extremes, but they don’t want to spend all their time working on landscaping when there is so much to enjoy. Similar to beach areas in the southeastern United States, gardens off North Carolina’s mainland have to tolerate the region’s sun, summer rains, humidity, sandy soil, salt and wind exposure.

The OBX is in USDA Hardiness Zones 8a, 8b and 9a.  Most gardens, yards, patios, or beachside getaways start with basic plants such as seaweeds and sea-grasses that are saltwater tolerant. Barrier island plants that do well in all conditions include Hawthorne, Russian Olive, Oleander, False Petunia, Pampas Grass, bamboo, lemongrass and Crepe Myrtle.

Take a peek around local parks or accommodating neighbors’ yards to see what plants do well in your particular zone. Indigenous species such as Yaupon, Cedars, and Live Oaks can bring a little shade, while radiantly colored “Jo-Bells” flourish easily and brighten up any area. Here are some of the latest summer landscaping trends to take your Outer Banks yard over the top:

Bright colors everywhere
Fill sunny areas with Coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans, Verbena, and Sage. Plant the native Schweinitz’s Sunflower, with its brilliant yellow petals, in lighter sun areas. For a stunning splash of color in shady areas, try Monrovia’s new Seaside Serenade® Outer Banks Hydrangea. It’s an excellent repeat bloomer that makes the perfect accent. Other options for shady areas include Woodsmoke, Fireworks with its dazzling orange burst, Coleus, and the sentimental favorite Begonia. An increasingly popular ground cover option is the Red Bud variety Forest Pansy.

In erosion- or flood-sensitive areas consider using raised beds, potted plants that can be moved easily, or interesting containers with a dash of color. Native plant species tend to be robust, with many specifically adapted to withstand salt spray, for landscapes that are closer to the ocean waters. Plants that grow well in all of North Carolina’s regions include Wood-Anemone, Carolina Lupine, Northern Maidenhair Fern, Dwarf Crested Iris, Eastern Blue Star, and Swamp Milkweed.

Lap of luxury
With pool landscaping, don’t just plop a few chaise lounges by the water. Create a welcoming environment for fun and relaxation. Offer areas where you can surprise guests with interesting plantings and lots of shade for cooling off on lazy summer days. Cozy, hygge garden ideas for the beach or patio include a cabana, fire pit, comfy seating, and soft lighting, surrounded by gently swaying and aromatic vegetation. For the full effect, install gently meandering paths that connect your water features, plants and seating areas to enhance enjoyment.

For more ideas on how to make your Outer Banks landscaping sizzle this summer, check out a few of our favorite locals like Central Garden Center & Nursery, Kitty Hawk Garden Center, Sandscapes Inc. or consult with other professionals who can help you get exactly what you need.