Republic of Moreland

May 13, 2007

Revegetating our nature strips

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  • Revegetated nature strip in Rennie Street, Coburg.

Fanged if I can figure why urban councils don’t encourage nature-strip vegetation (other than lawn and maybe a single tree). After all, it’s in their best interests.

The Age reports that “big leafy trees can often add more value to a house than an expensive renovation”, and that “Real estate agents agree that a good streetscape can add 30 per cent to the price of a property.”

There’s nothing to suggest this isn’t true of understory vegetation too. The Age also reports that

Houses in and around Separation Street, Northcote, used to overlook a municipal tip until the council transformed the site into All Nations Park, he says. Not surprisingly, values soared.

“Property values went up overnight by 20 to 30 per cent,” Mr Valentic says.

The reason is obvious. As Michael Pollan has written, it seems we’re hard-wired to enjoy a pastoral sensibility that lies in that comfort zone between nature and culture. (Where in that zone your comfort range falls is probably cultural and generational: my elderly Italian neighbours on one side and my middle-age Lebanese neighbours on the other prioritise pavers, stones and cement over living landscape.)

In light of current urban planning values, lawns are as outmoded as the Cyprus hedge.

  • most residents use fossil fuel to mow lawns
  • lawns are high-maintenance
  • exotic lawn grasses seed competitive weeds on our creek banks
  • you get better stormwater and weed management from a bush garden than a strip of lawn

There are some very inspirational native nature-strips around Westgarth, and some orchard strips as well. I was intrigued by a link provided by Marty in his comment about an earlier post on urban farming. He linked to a site discussing the philosophy and practice of guerrilla gardening (or ‘green graffiti’). I’m scheming a bit of guerrilla gardening myself. My Loquat tree spawned hundreds of baby trees this summer, and I’m nursing them to replanting stage. I’m going to target specific bare nature-strip sites around Coburg and plant them at the end of winter. Hopefully people will leave them to grow and fruit, so Coburg can enjoy the Victory garden philosophy. I shall document my endeavours: watch this space.

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4 Comments »

  1. You go, GoTA! Gimme a yell when you go guerrilla gardening, and I’ll keep nit.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — May 14, 2007 @ 10:34 am | Reply

  2. There are a couple of examples of planted nature strips down in these parts (south of Albion St, Shall I take some fotos for you? ) and then again there’s places like our street where there is one lone, sad, olive in the whole street.

    We’ve made a start, renovating the previous owners baby olive, and I’ve been experimenting with transferring different native grasses we have in the garden to the nature strip. The ‘strip’ is at the moment only 80cms or so long, it’s more of a hole-in-the-asphalt really. I was thinking of extending it once I had something established in the ‘hole’. Moreland CC’s website say they encourage this and they do have guidelines you can download from their web site.

    They also ask that you let them know when you have planted a nature strip. Maybe to make sure they don’t go hurling weed-killer on it?

    Ironically, the lack of vegetation in our street was one factor in it being selected for filming of a TV series by SBS recently, according to the Location Manager. Shots from one house to the other are easier without pesky trees getting in the way. Still, they’re a creative industry, I figure they’ll find a work-around if they ever come back for series 2!

    Comment by faith — May 14, 2007 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks so much, Faith. And I’d LOVE it if you’d take some pics to stick up here! (From your blog, it appears you have a far better camera & photographic skills than I do.)

    I’ve sent you a private email.

    You can actually put low-profile raised beds on your strip as well as putting things in the ‘hole’. I’ve seen it done on bitchumen, and I’ve done it in my own backyard, which once was concrete, but you’d never know. You can just use old redgum fenceposts and the like: you can find them almost anywhere, they’re always being dumped on nature strips (or I may have some spare if you need some).

    So Moreland CC does have guidelines for this: I congratulate it!

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — May 14, 2007 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  4. […] mischief, neighbours, food, gardening, environment — vaguely specific @ 11:11 am As promised, oh so long ago, I took some photos of revegetated nature strips I’ve stumbled across (sometimes literally). […]

    Pingback by The grass is always greener « Republic of Moreland — June 5, 2007 @ 11:17 am | Reply


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