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NATURE STRIP GARDENING: TO BOLDLY GARDEN WHERE NO ONE HAS GARDENED BEFORE…

Here's the great post from Jerry Coleby Williams:

and it warrants reading.

I have a 'nature strip garden'. I created it because I passionately hate mowing and my nature strip was big enough to hold a house. There is no path and every pedestrian  here uses the street. The nature strip is only used to park cars or deliver mail. It is wasted urban space that we are expected to maintain gratis.Here an un-mown strip is not maintained by council.

I have been dobbed into council twice by anonymous neighbours but my strip has approval after an officer visited.I just told them, either I do this, or I won't maintain the land at all.

It has taken me years to develop the plantings as the soil and context isn't horticulture friendly.The old roadway is underneath my strip.

But on my strip I grow:

  • lemon grass (which I harvest a couple of times each year for mulch)
  • a coastal leguminous creeper (don't know its name)
  • nasturtiums
  • some native reeds (not very successfully)
  • a mulberry tree
  • a coastal banksia.

I also, now and then,  grow sweet potato and choko as ground covers and have just sown pigeon peas in the hope that they'll take.

Never thought of aloe vera -- but Jerry Coleby Williams has! 

I still have to mow the nature strip but I use an electric whipper snipper to do that. After so much experimentation I gotta say high performance electric snippers are go! 

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Good article by Jerry.

Pretty much describes my nature strip - I have planted the area between the fence and the footpath with Pepino, Aibika, Midyim Berry, Rosemary, Cassava and lately sprinkled lettuce seeds which should come up next autumn/winter. His warnings about testing for heavy metals in these spaces before growing certain food plants is a sensible one.

I don't worry about compaction/digging - if I throw enough compostible material on the area the worms and other wee soil helpers fix that for me no sweat.

My postman seems to hate my plantings. Every now and then he makes a point of repeatedly running over the Pepino bed nearest the letter box. I get the message and go trim it back. Same with my Tibouchina footpath trees. Every now and then someone - probably a bike rider - tears branches off and leaves them for me to find. My hint that it is time to check for any low hanging branches that might cause a passer by grief.

His suggestion of swt potato for the area between the footpath and the road is an interesting one, surely a trip hazard for disembarking drivers? I have left that space as grass though I would love to see something there that doesn't need mowing.

So far no one has actively complained about my nature strip garden. But then neither does it create the discussion starter with passers by that I thought it would. No one seems to pay it any attention except me. Perhaps I should add some Aloe Vera plants as Jerry does. They seem to get some reaction around his way.

I have thought about doing this on many occasions but then reality hits home - the council park maintenance guys ride their mower from one park to the other straight over my nature strip (doesn't happen too often but knowing my luck I would just get it looking decent and down they would come.

Good post. I'm thinking of doing it as well.

Might try sneaking a couple of herbs in one section and see what happens - I certainly don't want to get a fine from BCC, heard they a pretty steep

Perhaps the Moreton Shire is a little more giving than BCC. Or maybe I'm in for a shock one day lol.

I am very fortunate.  This is my nature strip - I've had this planted for 10 years and so far no complaints.  I'm very mindful to keep it neat and tidy and I think everyone enjoys the flowers as they walk to school in the morning.  Occasionally, I'll have kids take flowers but I don't mind as long as they are not destroying them (in my head, I'm hoping they take them home to their mothers).  I wouldn't plant anything else here has there is a school and a daycare right nearby and I think if i went too close to footpath, I would get complaints.  No edibles but as I am fast running out of space INSIDE my yard, it is probably the one place left that I can dedicate to flowers :)

That's such a simple but beautiful  little strip ,and what you've done with it,,Dont forget that fence is a large space you could perhaps grow chokos,passionfruit etc also.

 This is the reply I have received when I asked Jerry how he got around BCC's rules  -  Jerry Coleby-Williams BCC have seen the light and are prepared to negotiate. You can contact Clr Matthew Bourke to start the process, change is in the air 

Do you have the text of the reply, Cheryl? The link led to JC-Ws FB page.

Thats where I got the info from - he had posted about his natu re strip garden and I asked him how he got around the BCC rules - the above was what he replied.  Don't have a link for Clr Matthew Bourke - will have to look into it, only saw his reply this morning

While I'm sure there are regulations specific to 'nature strips' in built up areas -- and I'm with councils in regard to protecting pedestrians  and line of sight for reversing vehicles -- the phenomenon of these spaces has them cornered by practicality. 

Unless they want to mow every other strip it is a bit patronizing to regulate their upkeep in brutal detail. A 'nature strip' should be composed of 'nature'. To argue that it must be grass is absurd. And if 'grass' why not bamboo?

There are all these tree regulations -- again for good reasons, but only up until a point, as there are utility services on the nature strip and line of sight or storm damage issues.

You'll note what councils plant in verges and roundabouts in way of height and spread...and water conservation. So contained creeper/ground covers should be kosher and practical.

My neighbour opposite does not mow his strip at all -- nor does the council for him. I think it looks OK. 

Then there are some of the water retention and run off issues that Coleby-Williams touches on. This prospect is developed keenly by Brad Lancaster. 

Now I'm not saying that planting vegetation will prevent a flood but redesigning streetscape can ameliorate its impact and slow down water volume and flow. Indeed our city is a terrible design for withstanding flooding -- either the relentless engorgement or the horrific flash flood.

Roads, freeways, roof runoff, gutters and such are engineered to move water quickly into the one place. As soon as the ubiquitous drains' are chokers then the water builds up on the surface above.

The fact is that a deluge is moved too quickly across the urban surface of Brisbane. And it moves so fast because of the regulations and builds we have been ruled by. 

If we redesign the consciously 'calm' that flow -- and harness it --  then we are protecting ourselves. What that should means is that as much as possible what falls on your property stays there.

Here on porous sand the only water that more or less rushes from our patch is that which falls on the unharvested section of the roof then down the spouting and away. Everything else is absorbed by seepage to the aquifers below.

The flash flood our region experienced on May 1st this year is a real wake up call. Our soil more or less absorbed the impact of the torrent from above, but for those in its path, obviously earthworks and swales are sure to help stem its impact. 

I reckon nature strips can play a role in re-engineering this approach, especially as Brisbane is the least foot-pathed capital I've lived in.  

We have the fastest growing grasses for most of the year and we allocate a huge part of our landscape to growing, mowing and maintaining them.

How absurd is that!

If roads take up roughly one third of the urban surface area, council grass verges --which we are sentenced to maintaining -- must make up maybe 2-3%. Think of that in terms of mower fuel usage, carbon imprint, and energy consumption -- and personal or council budgetary cost -- for a space no one uses  nor does 'nature' own-- aside for transit of x number foot steps of passers by or the posties' motor bike.

This isn't an easy remake. On our western  12 km road in,  the council cuts the verges along the farmlets. The contractor does a great job getting the grass down. If it isn't trimmed, aside from being a fire hazard, any animal  -- kangaroo, cow, sheep or sheep,can break from the grass into the path of oncoming traffic. Loose cattle happen all the time. 

So the same issues apply in built up areas...although there we are talking domestic dogs and cats, young children and reversing vehicles.

In that mix is the fact that if anyone falls over on your nature strip they get to sue the local council and not you because they are responsible for the area.

Hi all,Ive always been a firm advocate of this for a long time.Wouldnt it be also  great if all public parks and gardens were planted out with some simple , stuff like lemon myrtle ,bay laurel,Ibeka,other edible hedges etcetc just simple stuff that uneducated people could not complain about like rotted fruit etc.Everyone could use them and the world would be a little better.In saying all this beware,I was in a bogi meeting one night and a lady spoke of a nature strip she planted out with edibles and she had it growing for quite a while till the council came and sprayed it with roundup as well the rest of the footpaths beware!

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