You know the no man’s land between the sidewalk and the street? It’s the publicly owned space called the hellstrip, and it’s ripe for planting a garden.
People call this space the hellstrip because this often neglected space weathers some of the most extreme conditions, such as weather, foot and paw traffic, heat from the pavement, accidental tire marks and road salt in winter in some parts of the country.
Before you jump in, be sure your neighborhood allows hellstrip gardens and that your city, town or municipality enforces no restrictions.
Steer clear of utilities and stick to plants less than 4 feet tall or keep them trimmed for safety reasons.
While homeowners plant everything from flowering trees (such as the redbud pictured above) to shade-loving mondo grass in hellstrips, there’s more you can do to create a colorful garden there.
Here are our suggestions on how to give your curb more appeal in this unique space.
1. Coneflower. You can’t have enough heat-loving coneflower (echinacea) in a garden. Not only is it colorful, it also works perfectly in your curbside creation because it feeds off the heat and keeps blooming strong even when the weather cools.
2. Veronica. These purple spiked flowers add more dimension in your hellstrip garden. Veronica can take part shade if your hellstrip is only party sunny. For contrast, carefully arrange white marble chips around your plants to help keep weeds down.
3. Coreopsis. Also known as tickseed, these hardy flowers like to soak up the sun and can take dry spells. Try two-toned blooms for more color that lasts well into fall in your hellstrip garden.
4. Iris. Hardy iris is a perfect flowering plant for a hellstrip garden. They spread easily, so the curbside garden is a fitting container. Place mulch or wood chips to help plants retain water during hot spells. If you need to thin out and divide your plants, give some to neighbors for their hellstrips.
5. Rosemary. Pungent rosemary can survive some of the harshest conditions and thrives in hellstrip gardens. Plant around a mailbox or in the middle of a strip. It can also grow into a shrub. Couple your rosemary with blooms on this list and accent with other herbs such as creeping thyme, if desired.
6. Sunflowers. Sunflowers may seem unconventional for a hellstrip garden, but these work really well if you’ve got a mega-sunny location. These tall beauties can be paired with other blooms and shrubs, such as loropetalum, for a filled out look.
For other ideas for your curbside garden, check out this Hellstrip Gardening book.