Tired of mowing your parking strip? Trade your turf for native plants -- easy-care beauties guaranteed to welcome wildlife and wow the neighborhood.
Make a great first impression by dressing up your parking strip -- that stretch of ground between the street and your sidewalk.
Note: Check your municipality's rules for parking-strip plantings. Some areas have restrictions, such as height limits on plants.
A street-smart garden overflowing with colorful native plants is the perfect way to reduce mowing and add beauty to your front yard. Many native plants, such as the ones shown here, require less water, fertilizer, and pest control than their imported counterparts.
Begin by determining if you want to plant the entire parking strip or just a section. If you're not changing the entire area over to plantings, mark the edges of the new beds with spray paint, sand, or flour.
Use a sod kicker or shovel to remove the turf from your planting bed. If you use a shovel or sod remover, you don't need to dig deeply -- just 3-4 inches under the soil should do it.
If you're cursed with clay or another type of hard soil, running a tiller through your new bed will make it easier to dig planting holes. If your soil is relatively loose, you won't need to till the ground.
Get your plants off to a great start by incorporating some compost into the ground. Work it evenly into the soil.
Set your plants where you plan to add them before you start digging any holes. That way you can easily move varieties around.
If your plants are root-bound, meaning the roots are pushing up against the sides of the pot and are growing in circles, use your fingers or a trowel to loosen the root ball. Spread the roots out so they fan away from the plant.
Dig planting holes that are several inches wider than the diameter of the pot and about the same depth. Set plants into the ground so the soil in the pot is at ground level. Then fill in around the plant, covering the top of the root ball soil mass.
Once all your plants are in the ground, take a step back and make sure you're happy with their placement. It's easier to shift plants before you water.
After all plants are in place, add a 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch. Choose an organic mulch such as shredded bark or pine needles to suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture, and enrich the ground as the material decomposes.
Water plants thoroughly after mulching. You may need to water them weekly the first season; even drought-tolerant varieties need ample moisture while becoming established.
If you leave any grass around your bed, install edging to keep the turf from creeping in around your plants. Then, with the exception of an occasional weeding, watering, or deadheading, all you need to is sit back and relax as your parking strip bursts into bloom.