Sunday, 14 October 2012

Try growing: a native verge

Verges in suburban areas generally belong to the local council, but their upkeep is managed by the owner of the adjacent property. So your verge is a great area to grow native and indigenous plants - doing so means saying good-bye to mowing extra lawn, and provides habitat for local animal species. You can even grow edibles like bush tucker plants on a verge.
 
Here's where we're at with our verge space, about 18 months after planting:
Verge garden (the trees down the slope
are provided courtesy of our neighbour!)
We have gone for a mix of low plants that can be walked on by people parking in the road beside the verge, and shrubs that grow up to around a metre in height. There is a clear bark mulch path down the middle. This design factors in the all-important '3 Ps': power-lines, pedestrians and posties.
A low plant like this boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium)
is excellent for verge areas where people may want to walk
 Different councils have different regulations on what you can plant on your verge. Some will come round and plant a tree for you; others will allow you to plant your own tree; others again encourage shrubs rather than trees. It's important to check the local government regulations in your area when planning a verge design. It's also a good idea to talk with your neighbours about what you are planning before you start.

At present, Wollongong City Council does not have regulations governing what you can or can't do with your verge. But as long as you look out for the '3 Ps', you should be OK. Another tip is to plant hardy local plants - this will keep down the amount of watering needed in dry periods.
Coastal rosemary (Westringia fruticosa) is a very tough
local plant - cultivars that grow to 1 metre are available
Other super-hardy plants: pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens - right)
and native geranium (Geranium solanderi - left).
What plants work best on a verge will depend on lots of factors: whether you have power-lines overhead, whether there's already a footpath in place, whether you're high on a hill or down by a creek-line. But wherever you are, there will be lots of plants that are easier to maintain than a grassy lawn!

Have you 'gone native' on your verge?

PS If you're interested in growing veges on your verge, rather than natives, Green Lifestyle magazine has published a useful article on this subject.

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