Transform your verge into an attractive water-wise low maintenance garden with plants that lure a myriad pollinators.
By Kay Montgomery
An attractive verge creates a favourable first impression of your property, but with the needs to save water, this area is often the frst to show neglect. To avoid this, convert it into a water wise garden area.
Rules and regulations.
Where local councils own the land outside your property. Check if there are restrictions or guidelines to planting on your verge. Rules may also apply in gated communities, golf estates and retirement villages.
Ensure that plants on verges do not block the vision of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. if there is foot traffic, the plants should not have thorns or sharp points. Accept that there will inevitably be some damages by careless passers by children playing ball and people walking their dogs. you might even lose plants to light - fingered gardeners.
The most practical way of saving water is to eliminate grass and high maintenance plants and to choose drought -tolerant plants that are local to your area, or plants that grow in similar climatic conditions.
All plants need a good start, so initial soil preparation in important.
Dig a couple of spade depths and improve the soil by incorporating generous amounts of compost.
On sloping verges, prevent soul erosion by growing plants with blinding roots to anchor the soil , such as agapanthus. slopes are ideal for flowers that do not need rich soil, and cannot tolerate wet feet.
Suitable plants include agapanthus, arctotis, Aloe, gazania, mesembryanthemum, protea and leucospermum.
A wealth of indigenous plants is available that are low maintenance water wise and can survive harsh summers.
Low growing plants are achillea arctotis, bulbine, day lily, wild iris, gura,gazania, lambs ear , compact pelargoniums, mesembryanthemum and osteospermum.
Shrubs such as euryops, daisy, felicia, Lavendar, rosemary, santlina, beach salvia , blue sage with blue flowers would be suitable.
where there are no walls, fences or walkways depending on space, trees with interesting shapes such as the wild olive under planted with ape honeysuckle, plumbago, rosemary, westringia, can be gown at street level.
where there are walls and fences disguise them with nectar rich cape honeysuckle and upright lion's ear.
Ivy pelargonium and overlasting with grey felted leaves given some support can be encouraged to climb walls
Create a pollinating strip
Make your verge environmentally firiendly and connect surburbia with nature by providing a corridor of colourful water wise flowers that will attract bees, butterflies, birds, beetles and moths.
Simple flowers with easy access to pollen and nectar are preferable to double flowers, the wild pomegranate has deep green glossy leaves and orange -red flowers
Flat topped red, yellow lavender and pink act as landing platforms for butterflies and weeping sage and sage wood are flavoued for rearing their young. Moth pollinated flowers are generally whote or plae and strongly scented at night.
If space is limited choose blue, yellow and mauve flowers, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary, streltzia, agapanthus.
The honeybell bush also attracts insects and birds.
Maintaining the verge
- Do not use pesticides or herbicides
- cut back any plants encroaching on pavements or road gutters.
- In periods of prolonged heat, water thoroughly so water penetrates to the root area.
- Water early in the morning while it is cool.
- Mulching saves on watering.