Verge Planting

If you were ever in doubt that gardening was political, the issue of verge gardens should set you straight. Lurking in the undergrowth of the debate are issues of shared ownership and responsibility, (non-)conformity, environmental concerns, power relationships between councils and ratepayers, and class. Some even argue about what to call that area between your front property boundary and the road. Is it a verge, footpath, nature strip, or something else?

Brisbane verges, so-called nature strips, are public land yet residents are required to maintain them. They are usually either neat green turf or barren and weedy. Maintaining manicured turf uses water, fertiliser, weedkiller, poluting mowers and other tools, and isn’t the best way to spend your time. The neglected verges often harbour environmental weeds which are spread further by contract mowing.

In 2016, Brisbane City Council finally gave way to community pressure and produced guidelines allowing residents to plant out their verges.

The Shady Lanes ProjectThe Shady Lanes Project has a directory of verge garden policies from councils around Australia.

Attractive, compact, dense shrub with white flowers that attract small birds and native bees. This one is in almost full shade against the back fence under the Leptospermum – Wild May There are two in the front garden, one on the western side near the verge, and one on the eastern end of the verge. Baeckea [...]

Dianella berries (November 2018) on front verge. Rich purple berries follow delicate flowers. Bought as tubestock (3), Kumbartcho, December 2016. Planted on west side of tank. Bought as tubestock (30), Kumbartcho, December 2016. Planted on south side of verge. Label says: Herb to 60 cm High Aspect: Full Sun / Semi-Shade Soil/Conditions: Dry / Well-Drained [...]

Bought as tubestock from Kumbartcho Nursery, December 2016. Planted in south-west corner. Very shaded so plant is quite leggy. Bought a second plant Kumbartcho Nursery, December 2019 for the verge. Shrub to 0.5 Metres High by 1 Metre across Aspect: Full Sun Soil/Conditions: Adaptable / Moist to Sandy Description: Dense Prostrate Habit Evergreen Perennial Grey-Green [...]

Suggested by a volunteer at Kumbartcho Nursery as a more local Myoporum than the finer leaved ones you buy in the shops, and a very hardy low-growing shrub for the front verge. Small white flowers in Autumn followed by berries. Full sun or semi-shade Grows to approx. 50cm with spread of 1 to 2 metres [...]

Westringia is a very hardy, versatile little shrub. You can let it grow wild or trim into neat balls. It’s an ideal plant for the nature strip. Westringia fruticosa has white flowers right through the year Westringia eremicola has slightly finer, greener leaves and purple/lilac flowers. Westringia just needs an occasional trim to keep a ball [...]

The land is public so you need to consider and manage the reactions of neighbours and others affected. Verge gardens can be, but don’t have to be, food gardens. More important than the suggestion of individual plants are the general guidelines which allows you to choose your own plants that fit your location, soil, taste, [...]

On Friday, our new street tree was installed in line with the blue dot by two friendly workmen from the BCC.  They called it a “Lop Con” short for Lophostemon confertus (Queensland Brush Box), and it’s the same as the others in the street. One neighbour who is also missing a tree has already ordered [...]

The Brisbane City Council have finally given in to pressure from green-fingered residents and now has a policy to allow gardening on verges or native strips in front of houses. Their guidelines were announced in August 2016 and updated in March 2017. They can be accessed here and the Brisbane Times article with some interesting [...]

The sunny side of the verge is starting to look more like a garden. The annuals – alyssum, nasturtiums and strawflowers are filling space while the tubestock natives are growing. The alyssum is flowering, attracting bees, keeping weeds down and making the mulch path look like a path – no hard borders are allowed under [...]

It’s two years since the main verge was planted out. The street tree is thriving. The westringia against the road are well establised. Myoporum (in the foreground right) seems to be indestructible and has tiny white flowers. Cuttings strike well.   Pink and white cosmos have come up from seed and brightens the mid-winter garden. The [...]

In debates about the environment, urban planning and development, the need for greenspace is a bit of an accepted wisdom. “Protect our greenspace” is the one argument against a new development that nobody dares argue with. But what do people really mean when they talk about greenspace? Does everyone mean the same thing? Do they [...]

I was among those who lobbied my local councillor about street planting laws and was delighted when the BCC finally came out with their new policy allowing verge gardens in 2016. Admittedly, it could have been better. Jerry Coleby-Willliams offered valid criticism of its shortfalls and the policy could be much improved with his input. [...]

Our street has several street trees but for some reason there are gaps – and there’s a big gap on both sides of the street in front of our house. Did little trees die from neglect?  Did someone remove them?  Where they ever there? So, I phoned the Brisbane City Council call centre 3403 8888 [...]