A parking or park strip is a narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and the street often used as a right of way for public utilities and traditionally planted with street trees and turf. Although the municipality owns the strip, the homeowner is responsible for its upkeep.
Parking strips offer unique, if not challenging, opportunities for water conservation in the landscape. They can be as simple as a strip of low water use turf or gravel or an elaborate display of perennials, edible plants, and shrubs. Trees can be included as well. Check your city ordinances for plant height and placement requirements as well as for species selection.
Narrow strips are more suited to simple landscaping. Many homeowners fill narrow landscape strips with rock or minimal plantings such as a single species of shrub or perennial plant. Note that rock or gravel can increase surface temperature.
Interesting and unique hardscape materials such as tile, rock, or stepping stones combined with low water use plant materials can be used to make creative park strip designs. The neighbors may look twice!
Some Initial Design Considerations:
- How much maintenance will the park strip need? Will it look weedy over time?
- Can the park strip design be easily integrated with the existing landscape design?
- What are the soil, sun and shade, and wind conditions on the site?
- Research appropriate plant and hardscape materials for the particular site
- What type of irrigation will be used?
- How much snow will accumulate on the site? Snow from plows can easily damage woody plants
- Will salt be applied to the streets in winter? Many communities still do not have curb and gutter making salt damage to strip areas more prevalent
- Do people park on the street alongside the parking strip and how will they access the sidewalk?
- Is there a fire hydrant or utilities located in, on, or above the park strip? ALWAYS check with utility companies before you dig. It’s the law. Dial 811
- STOP! Do not proceed to redesign the park strip until you have checked city ordinances to see if modifications to the site are allowed.