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  • Writer's pictureSweet Pea Specialists

Strip Flip - Nature Strip Make Over

My local Council installed a new footpath recently and it looks amazing. However, they left this horrid mess of a "soil" behind.

It is mostly clay with gravel that compacts like concrete. it is unable support any form of life including micro organisms and is only suitable for weeds to grow in. Which means chemical spraying. Even though I have on my files at Council no spraying, my strip has been recently sprayed.

They have also managed to increase the temperature, up to another 3C! This is known as Urban Heat.

So what do you do?


There are a few important steps you must do before you plant out.

  • Get Council permission. Council will not be able to grant permission without a detailed plan. Your plan must include plants and their location and services like storm water.

Contact Dial Before You Dig to obtain a plan of your services and amenities. Council will also need to know your work plan for the safety of the general public and how you intend to maintain the area.

  • Soil - plants must have healthy soil to grow. It is safe to assume that any nature strip's soil will be in poor condition. So much so that it will more than likely need to be removed. I worked in sections where I removed the soil and immediately filled it with compost. My footpath is very wide and there isn't much foot traffic. However, it is essential that when working you do not leave any equipment on the footpath. This is why you need to submit a work plan to Council. For example in a busy street you may be required to wear high vis clothing.

  • Plants - there is lots to consider!

Visibility - plants must not be higher than 50cm to allow foot traffic and motorists visibility. If you wish to plant trees, consult with your Council.

No toxic or poisonous plants. This is a community area and it needs to be safe. Herbs and edible flowers are an excellent choice. I have lavender, catmint, feverfew and calendula to name just a few.

Select drought hardy and low maintenance plants. I decided on a prairie style for my footpath. And since I had lots of existing plants in warm tones its colour scheme is red, yellow, orange with splashes of purple / blue and some white to break the colours up. Some of the plants I used are: Coresposis, Geum Mrs Bradshaw, Perennial Tall Sedums, Saliva, Achillea (Yarrow) and Eryngium and Echinops.

When designing your planting plan make sure you leave areas for people to access the footpath. I have driveways at either end of my nature strip. I also included three areas for people to park and open car doors. I have flagged these parking spots with Poa labillardiere grass. Grasses are another excellent hardy plant and will add texture and movement to the area.

Poa labillardiere

I also planted Libertia peregrinans for its orange winter foliage.

Another plant I have added to give the appearance of grass are daylilies.

Sisyrinchiums have been added for "mini grasses". The selection below grow to around 20cm and are excellent fillers.

There are a selection of silver foliage plants to compliment the concrete path. One of which is Artemisia arborescens 'Powis Castle'.

And Tanacetum Ptarmiciflorum ‘Silver Lace’ or 'Bishop's Lace'.

Santolinas are excellent plants for dry conditions and I have two growing on the nature strip. Santolina chamaecyparissus Cotton Lavender and Santolina rosmarinifolia ‘Primrose Gem’.

Since a section of my nature strip is part of an existing garden inside my boundary I was also able to include plants that like it more damp. My nature strip beds are more like large pots that retain more moisture than most nature strips. This area is in front of large existing hedge that is set back from the road enough to allow me to plant taller plants (no more than 1m in height and do not grow very wide).

A couple varieties of Veronicas have been added along with some Sanguisorbas.

Plus Rudbeckia and Echinacea. The hedge will allow me to tie any of these plants to it so they do not fall onto the footpath.

Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'

Mulch needs to be heavy enough not to blow away and become a nuisance. I will not use pine bark as it does not add any value to the soil. Instead I have and will continue to use Whoflungdung. Gravel is also another option especially if you are planting out a dry garden using succulents.

Water this needs to be done by hand with a watering can. You will not be able to add a watering system nor can you take your hose out to water the plants.

My nature strip has just been completed, so the photos are not very exciting. However, I have gotten to know so many more people since I started to work out there. My cat, Hugo has claimed the area as his and has become a local celebrity. He is the reason for the catmint and cat grass. He is an indoor cat but loves to work with me in the garden. The feedback has been very positive. In the past five months not one plant or garden bed has been touched by the general public. I placed gutter guard around the small plants to allow them to establish and to make them more visible. It is a community garden and people are more than welcome to pick flowers and take seeds. In this short time I have earthworms and the bees are loving it.

I highly recommend you Flip Your Strip!

We are currently on our break, if you can call it that as we are busy harvesting. As a result the website isn't up to date. If you are interested in any of these plants or seeds, message us. This is not a complete list of what I have growing on my nature strip. Message me if you would like to know more or would like suggestions as to what else you can grow. We have a large selection of suitable plants.

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