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Hellstrip Gardening: Transforming Neglected Terrain into Vibrant Gardens

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Dedicated gardeners embrace the challenge of coaxing life from inhospitable terrain. Here's how you can, too.

description (anonymous): a beautifully landscaped hellstrip garden filled with colorful flowers, ornamental grasses, and neatly trimmed shrubs. the vibrant greenery creates a visual delight as the garden stretches along the sidewalk, forming a picturesque scene.

Hellstrip gardening, also known as curbside gardening or verge gardening, is a rising trend where homeowners creatively utilize the strip of land between the street and the sidewalk. Traditionally neglected, this space is now being transformed into vibrant gardens that not only beautify the neighborhood but also provide various environmental benefits. With some planning and careful plant selection, anyone can turn their hellstrip into a stunning garden oasis.

But homeowners are increasingly using their imaginations to make use of the “hellstrip” by encouraging native flowers and clover, leaving fairy rings in the grass, or planting small trees that won’t interfere with power lines or sidewalks. The result can be a vibrant strip of color and texture for passersby to enjoy.

To successfully garden in a hellstrip, it's crucial to choose plants that can withstand the unique challenges of this area. The soil is often compacted, dry, and receives excessive heat from the pavement. Native plants are an excellent choice as they are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance. Some of the best hellstrip plants include sedums, ornamental grasses, yarrow, and daylilies.

Other great hellstrip conifers include ground-huggers like blue rug juniper, and compact shrubs like dwarf blue globe spruce, mugo pine, and yew. These plants not only add visual appeal but also help reduce noise and air pollution. The effect is an 'allée' for pedestrians, as two sets of tree limbs reach towards one another, forming an arch over the sidewalk.

Gardeners get irked when plants refuse to step up and overcome challenging situations. But plants themselves often face more than just a lack of water or sunlight. Hellstrip plants need to withstand foot traffic, road salt, dog urine, and occasional car bumper encounters. Therefore, it's crucial to choose resilient plants that can thrive amidst these stressors.

When selecting plants for a hellstrip, consider their adaptability, drought tolerance, and ability to tolerate compacted soil. Perennials like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and salvia are excellent choices. Groundcovers such as creeping thyme and creeping Jenny can provide a lush carpet of foliage, while drought-tolerant grasses like feather reed grass and switchgrass add height and texture.

Making a yard and a community more beautiful begins at the curb. But that narrow space between the sidewalk and the street, sometimes called a hellstrip, is often underutilized. By transforming this overlooked area into a garden, you can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home while also contributing to a greener environment.

Urban vegetable gardening is not always pretty. If picture-perfect curb appeal is crucial to you, a “hellstrip” veggie plot probably isn't the right choice. However, if you are passionate about sustainable living and want to make the most of every available space, growing vegetables in your hellstrip can be a rewarding experience. Just make sure to choose compact and low-growing varieties, and consider using raised beds or containers to keep the area tidy and organized.

You know that boring strip of grass—or weeds—between the street and the sidewalk that technically belongs to your city or town but whose maintenance falls on you? That's the hellstrip. But instead of letting it go to waste, why not transform it into a beautiful garden that brings joy to both yourself and your community? Hellstrip gardening allows you to reclaim this forgotten space and turn it into a thriving oasis of flowers, greenery, and even vegetables.

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