The Rules for Verge Gardens
Understanding both formal Council policies and the myriad of unwritten social rules that govern this space is the key to avoiding complaints and showdowns with councils.
The obvious rules are your Council policy.
Every Council policy is different and they reflect the different priorities and attitudes of Councils. Remember that Councils are approaching this from a wider viewpoint and will be considering all users of this public space and all verge gardens, not just yours.
Typical policies include:
Only Councils can plant and maintain the street trees
Street trees are the most important plant
Residents can plant low-growing plants usually up to 30cm or 50cm tall
Plants must not get in the way of pedestrians, people getting out of parked cars, and anyone else who uses that space.
Native plants are usually preferred. Some allow food. Most specify no invasive, poisonous or spiky plants.
The less obvious rules
These are the unwritten social rules of your community and neighbours that we touched on above. In many ways verge gardening is challenging the norms of your streetscapes so emotions come into play.
If anyone is so annoyed by your garden that they make a complaint, the Council is obliged to act. Your job is to work out what people in your neighbourhood will accept.
Looking at other verge gardens and monitoring your own reactions is a good way to start thinking about this. It was walking the Urban Food Streets at Buderim that made me decide that I would keep my food gardening inside the fence. (2017 story here)
Find your Council policy.
Listen to comments people make about this shared public space especially contentious issues like parking cars or boats or caravans on the verge.
Start looking at how, and if, many verge gardens comply with the policy when you walk around your neighbourhood. What do you think of your Council policy? How much do you think it matters? Are there things that you object to others doing on your verge or in front of your home? Why?
Council policies: All Council policies we know of are listed in the Shady Lanes Directory. You can list your council if it's missing.
These free articles are part of the Understanding the Space series: bite-sized introductions to gardening in these small but wonderfully complex spaces.