Our Coquina Garden – A Beach Backyard Makeover

This spring our backyard has gotten quite a makeover. When we first moved here in August, there was barely any backyard, and what was there was more or less a mix between a dirt pit and landfill.

coquina for backyard

The first step was getting up a privacy fence, then we got a shed built, and somewhere along the way we even constructed a compost bin out of leftover fence wood.

Take a look at what our backyard used to look like.


It was a great place for snakes. And we do not like snakes.

black racer snake

We needed a plan. We had to address several problems, including the fact that the backyard is tiny with a slope, and that everything flooded after Hurricane Matthew. We are also surrounded by gigantic oak trees, and we have a few big trees in the backyard too, which makes it hard to grow grass. The final thing to consider is that we bought the property with the intention to rent it out, once we find our dream house, so we wanted a low maintenance yard.

After weeks of pondering, the concept we came up with was a rock garden absent any grass that needed to be cut. We made a landscape plan which included several garden beds throughout the garden, but we intended on filling most of the yard with rocks.

After having looked at paver stones for a while, we finally settled on small 12 x 12 red pavers, which were on sale at Lowes at$0.88 a piece. The regular price was $1.53 a piece, so we saved a bundle.

The first step was filling up the backyard with dirt, to even it out, and to avoid having it flood again. We paid $80 for a huge truck load of black dirt from a dirt pit in the outskirts of our neighborhood. Since it was so close we got it delivered for free. It took us a day to bring it all to the back of the yard with the help of a rented wheel barrow and our buckets – it was a family event, and everyone chipped in.

Then came the patio construction. It was quite a project,and it took several days. We finished it off with PermaSand, which is a special concrete sand to put in between the pavers, which seals and prevents weeds to come through the cracks.

As we were putting the patio together, we tried to get estimates for rocks from the surrounding dirt yards, but we quickly discovered that the rocks we wanted were out of our budget. We drove all over the area, and visited places we would otherwise never see. At one dirt yard, the owner suggested that we used coquina, which was one of the cheapest options he had. coquina is a mix of sand and seashells, and we’ve seen it in several places around town. This guy wanted $400 for a truckload of coquina, which is about 5 tons.


This price was still way over our budget, so we went back to our neighborhood dirt guy, and he offered us the same truckload for $70 delivered.

seashell backyard decor

Before we got the coquina delivered we bought 20 bags of white marble chips on sale at around $2.35 per bag. (Regular price $3.53)

We framed the patio with these white marble rocks.

coquina for backyard

We also created a walk way in front of our house as well as from our front stairs to the gate. This has been a problem area, whenever we had rain, because it turned into a mud pile.

coquina shells

coquina sand for backyard

Once the coquina arrived, the entire family once again began with our buckets. It took us four days, but we now have a transformed backyard. The coquina becomes firm to walk on, and once it gets wet, the sand sinks down a bit leaving the seashells more visible. We have not had any rain, since we put the coquina down, but in areas close to the garden beds where I water, you can see a difference.

coquina shells


coquina conch shell mix


The coquina had the most beautiful shells, huge shells and we even found a few conchs among the shells too. We’ve used the big shells to decorate around the yard, and it has really added a beachy touch.


2 thoughts on “Our Coquina Garden – A Beach Backyard Makeover”

  1. I love the family working together. We, too, have many memories of us and the kids doing things very similar. They are much better memories than any vacation we ever took. Lovely yard.

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