Farmers of the urban footpath – design guidelines for street verge gardens
FARMING THE FOOTPATH—it’s been going on for some time in our cities but the last few years have brought an upsurge of interest. It’s one of those ideas that is now capturing the public imagination and we are starting to see more and more street verge gardens, many of them growing food.
Most verge plantings have so far been created by gardeners who know what they are doing, but the recent burst of popularity suggests that a little thought before acting might be a good thing. There is concern in local government, which is responsible for public footpaths, that street verge gardens might be planted to inappropriate species and could interfere with underground services such as water, gas and sewage pipes or block easy access to and from the street.
There are design solutions to these reservations.
It can be confusing for local government when they are approached by people wanting to make a verge garden or who have already turned their nature strip to citrus and cabbage, nuts or natives. Rather than think how this could be done well, there have been incidents where councils have ordered the removal of verge gardens or removed them themselves. However, for councils willing to creatively engage with citizens in this new use of public land, a little design thinking can ensure that planted street verges—edible and otherwise—are made to a high standard of safety, access and finish. Where councils decide to go with the flow of public interest and enable street verge plantings, publication of a set of design and planting guidelines can be a great help.
This article introduces current thinking on street verge gardening. Read the full article.