Street verge to become next frontier for city’s gardeners

City of Newcastle

Green-thumbed residents are being given the opportunity to transform Newcastle’s street verges into flourishing road-side gardens.

The new Street Garden Initiative will be launched by City of Newcastle this summer, providing keen gardeners with the guidelines they need to develop attractive, safe and appropriate green spaces on the city’s verges.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen with an existing verge garden in New Lambton.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the city’s verges have long been limited to formal street tree plantings and complicated arrangements with footpath, overhead and underground utilities. However, Novocastrians are increasingly looking to this roadside space as a location for new gardens.

“Newcastle is one of only a handful of local government areas across the nation that have tackled this issue to enable our community to assist in greening the city and enhancing our urban forest,” Cr Clausen said.

“Whilst home during COVID, many within our community have taken a new interest in our local parks and their own gardens, and our city has never looked better. Getting outside in the garden has proven health benefits, improves our local biodiversity and helps make our region more resilient to the effects of urban heat island and storms.

“City of Newcastle’s new Street Garden Initiative provides gardeners with clear guidance on what can be grown in their verge, how to go about approaching neighbours, and registration requirements before gardening commences.

“The City has worked through the challenging parts of this equation – such as mitigating impacts to utilities, road users and pedestrians – and the easy-to-follow guidelines ensure that gardening can be undertaken safely on the verge.”

The best-practice suburban street garden program will begin with a 12-month trial to inform the rollout of a long-term initiative, which will add to the health and vitality of street trees planted in conjunction with the street gardens.

Comprehensive guidelines provide clear direction on every aspect of establishing a verge garden, including information on the positioning of gardens to allow for pedestrian access, a setback from the gutter for garbage truck access and to assist people accessing cars.

Appropriate plant species selections including maximum plant height, a standard planter box design for those wishing to use the space to grow food and registration of gardeners to provide workplace health and safety information for those working near the road reserve also form part of the guidelines and application process.

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