Planting Guidance

Go Wild!

A guide to plants commonly used in living shorelines along the Texas coast

Native vegetation is often the backbone of a living shoreline project. A wide variety of native plants can be used to promote habitat diversity and create a more varied and attractive landscape. Native trees, shrubs, and grasses can also be used to hold soil in place, slow erosion, and add critical wildlife habitat, as well as beauty and value to your property.

This guide highlights plants commonly used in Texas living shoreline projects, along with the habitats that plants are most adapted to as well as their National Wetland Indicator Status, described below:

  • Obligate (OBL) plants almost always occur in wetlands. With few exceptions, these plants (herbaceous or woody) are found in standing water or seasonally saturated soils (14 or more consecutive days) near the surface.
  • Facultative wetland (FACW) plants generally occur in wetlands more than 67 percent of the time. These plants predominately occur with hydric soils, often in geomorphic settings where water saturates the soils or floods the soil surface at least seasonally.
  • Facultative (FAC) plants occur equally in wetlands and uplands. The occurrence of these plants in different habitats represents responses to a variety of environmental variables other than just hydrology, such as shade tolerance, soil pH, and elevation, and they have a wide tolerance of soil moisture conditions.
  • Facultative upland (FACU) plants usually occur more than 67 percent of the time only on upland sites. These plants predominately occur on drier or more mesic sites in geomorphic settings where water rarely saturates the soils or floods the soil surface seasonally.
beach sunflower

Native Plant Species List

Grasses, Sedges and Rushes
Forbs and Wildflowers
Trees and Shrubs

Planting Considerations

For plant survival, it is important to educate yourself and to instruct contractors on proper planting strategy and spacing.

  • Planting during the proper season is important to avoid temperature extremes to ensure plants thrive.
  • In the coastal marsh environment, individual grass sprigs or plugs are typically planted approximately three feet apart.
  • The root structure must be covered. Wave energy can dislodge the plants, so it is important to compact soil around the base of the stem.
  • Plant as densely as one to two feet apart in higher energy environments. The higher the wave energy, the closer the plantings should be.
grass on coastline

Where can I get plants for my shoreline project?

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Plant Materials Program provides technical resources and information on plants useful for coastal stabilization, technical documents from the Plant Materials Program, links to Plant Materials Centers working on coastal issues, and other resources that will give your community access to the tools necessary to create, restore, and protect vital coastal wetlands that are a first defense against severe storm activity. Learn more