Across Australia, verge gardens have become an increasingly popular form of community gardening. Verge gardens are gardens that people establish in the strip of council land beside the footpath at the front of their house. Establishing and maintaining verge gardens can be an excellent way of getting to know your neighbours, building a strong sense of community, and adding to the biodiversity and beauty of your local street.
Where to start?
The City of Charles Sturt encourages and supports our residents to rediscover the joy of (non-edible) gardening in our urban landscape. However, before you go ahead and start planting, you should first talk to the Council and to your neighbours.
Obtaining a permit
While we try to keep the process of developing verge gardens as simple as possible, we still need to assess and approve your proposal. We do this by way of a permit system. Before we can issue your permit we will consider:
- whether there are any utilities under the verge that may be affected (such as gas, phone, water, electricity);
- space for placement of bins, safe access to parked vehicles, and clear sight lines for pedestrians and traffic, and no potential trip-hazards such as raised edging and planter boxes.
For your own safety, we cannot allow the cultivation of edible plants for consumption in the verge, as there may be undesirable chemicals in the soil, such as historic deposits of lead from petrol exhaust emissions, or from animal waste (dog and cat droppings, for example).
Talking to neighbours and the home owner
Verge gardens do not require complex management structures, however, if the garden is proposed to extend over someone else’s verge, they should be projects that are supported and jointly planned/developed by adjacent neighbours.
Also, keep in mind that when you leave the property, there is no guarantee that the new occupant will be interested in maintaining the verge garden. There is a possibility that Council may request you, as the departing resident, to return the verge to its previous sate at your own cost. For this reason, if you are renting the property you must gain written permission from your landlord prior to the establishment of a verge garden.
What support can Council offer?
As well as assessing the location of the garden, Council staff may support verge garden projects in the following ways:
- help with design ideas;
- advice on Council policies and requirements;
- provide limited horticultural advice.
The following resources are a good starting place to assist you in developing your ideas for your verge garden, to provide design and management advice, and… to inspire!
Gardening Australia, ABC. In episode 1, series 23 of ABC’s Gardening Australia, presenter Costa Georgiadis takes viewers through his journey to create a verge garden:
Australian City Farms and Community Garden Network. The ACFCGN website provides some excellent information, guidance and examples on verge gardening: