Shells for Landscaping

Has your soil been lacking in life? Put the power of the ocean back in your lawn by using shells for landscaping!

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Shells for Landscaping

Benefits of Using the Resources Around You

If you’re looking for something to bring vitality back to your lawn look no further than the shore next door. Shells are a versatile option for your landscaping needs. They can be used in a variety of gardening and decorative applications while also providing needed nutrients to your soil. Once you switch to shells, your lawn will thrive with all the benefits they have to offer.

Improve Soil Quality

Organic matter is vital to healthy soil; however, it isn’t very common in Florida soil. The soil here in Tampa Bay tends to be naturally sandy and lacking in organic matter. By adding sustainable organic matter like shells to your lawn it improves the health of your soil without contaminating water or harming wildlife. Choosing shells to increase soil quality is also an eco-friendly option as it is a viable solution to help reduce the waste from seafood harvesting.

One way shells will increase soil quality is by adding vital nutrients to the soil. As shells breakdown they provide calcium, which helps the structure of soil. Decomposing shells also release chitin, a special kind of nitrogen, that increases plant growth by strengthening their plant cell walls. The chitin also benefits the health of your garden by increasing the amount of chitin-eating bacteria. These bacteria target nematodes and other garden pests as their food source is slowly depleted creating a healthier environment for your plants to thrive in.

The addition of shells for landscaping can also be beneficial to acidic soil. As the breakdown of the shells releases calcium over time, it lowers pH levels and serves as a natural replacement for lime. However, it should be noted that Florida well water has a higher alkaline pH that could make your soil’s pH higher overtime. The addition of shells could make your soil too alkaline for plants as most plants fare better with slightly acidic soil. With that in mind, we recommend a soil test before you add shells into your soil. To get your soil tested, we recommend turning to your local environmental and ecological consultant.

Improve Soil Quality

Other Uses For Shells in Your Landscaping

While using shells for landscaping can be very beneficial to the health of your soil, it can also be useful in other areas of your lawn. Here are other places shells can be a wonderful alternative:
Shells as Mulch
Just like shells can help with your plant’s health as a soil additive, it can also benefit your plants health as mulch! Shells as mulch can improve water retention by allowing water to run through the porous surface of the shell and percolating the ground underneath. Using shells as mulch can also prevent bugs by deterring them with the shells’ sharp edges. The high density of the shells also restrict the amount of sunlight weeds can receive which prevents their growth.

While adding shells to the soil gives it nutrients from the bottom up, you can also add shells as mulch to give your plants nutrients from the top down. As with all organic mulches, be sure to place it directly in the soil to ensure complete nutrient breakdown. Placing shells or any other organic mulch above a weed mat will prevent breakdown from happening.

Shells as Decoration
While improving lawn health, shells can also improve the value and appearance of your home. Depending on the size and shape of your shells, you can use them in a variety of decorative ways for your landscaping. To add a polished appearance, try edging the outline of your flower beds with crushed shells. Combine grout and shells to make artistic statements with shell mosaics. Use various colors to add pops of color to your lawn. However you want to use shells to decorate, they are a natural and economic way to bring that Floridan aesthetic straight from the beach to your lawn.
Shells as Pavement
Ground shells can also be a great natural alternative to gravel, concrete, or asphalt. The porous and breakable nature of shells create low-maintenance and durable pathways that only get more even over time. Their self-leveling nature makes them a cost effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly alternative option than other pavement options. The only cons to note are that using shells for your pathways is not always barefoot friendly, nor are they compatible with steep inclines.

How do Shells Create Even Walkways?

As shelled pathways break down more and more with use the shells chip into smaller pieces and become self-leveling as they naturally fill in gaps or holes to create an even surface. These small pieces of shell flake into a fine sediment called oyster flour which acts as a natural binder for the shells. While gravel uses a chemical binder, the shells’ own natural binder won’t wash away. Because of the oyster flour, pathways, walkways, and driveways become more compact over time. Eventually, a shell pathway or driveway will need to be replenished, but only once every few years or so.

The self-leveling nature of a shelled pathway has other benefits as well. As water runs through the shells, your pathways won’t become muddy, leave footprints, or create ruts. Shelled pathways are also impervious to heat and cold, so they won’t crack over time. Using shells for walkways, driveways, or other paths are a more cost effective and a more sustainable option.

How Do Shells Create Walkways

Consider the Types of Shells for Landscaping

With all the benefits of shells for landscaping listed, you might be wondering which shells are best to use. The sturdy shells of coquinas and oysters make a good alternative to asphalt for driveways. Oysters are also most popular for helping garden soil along with other calcium rich shells like mussel, scallop, conch, and clam, but lobsters and crabs can be used too. When it comes to ground versus crushed shells, ground is best for gardening due to the lime-like fine powder, whereas crushed pieces are best for mulch and other aesthetic landscaping uses.

A Wave of Benefits

Now that you know the benefits in depth, here’s a quick summary for you to remember why using shells for your landscaping needs is an action worth taking:

All natural

Shells are organic matter straight from the beach. It won’t harm plants, wildlife, or your water with unnatural harsh chemicals. Shells are environmentally friendly and can be a way to reduce waste from seafood harvesting.

Aerate soil and improve drainage

Since shells are porous this allows water and air to flow through easily which is great for your plants and the health of your soil.


With all the varying colors and sizes, shells are sure to stand out to any onlooker and make your landscape unique.


Because shells are such an abundant and attainable resource, they are cheaper in cost and won’t break your bank.

Reduce weeds and Bugs

While water may get through the shells, weeds won’t and bugs. Shells can prevent weed growth by inhibiting their space and deterring bugs with their sharp edges.

Provide nutrients

The calcium and nitrogen released from the decomposing shells are great nutrients for any lawn or landscape.
Bring the Florida Shores to Your Home

Bring the Florida Shores to Your Front Lawn

If you think using shells for landscaping is the change you need, don’t clam up now! Our shell installation service is backed by quality guarantee. At Progressive, we care about your lawn looking its best and we do that through our well-trained experts, attention to detail, and excellent customer service that has your lawn lush and healthy.

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On Landscaping Services

Interested in adding life back into your lawn? Email us online or call us on our shellphone to schedule a consultation for all your shell landscaping needs.