I have a shop located in a historic urban area in Cincinnati, OH. I have removed the weedy grass in a long strip between sidewalk and curb, dug in some mushroom compost and, for the winter, have covered the soil with mulch. The strip is south-facing, so gets blasted with hot sun all day. In the spring, I'd like to plant a lot of low-growing perennials, herbs and annuals, interspersed with flat rocks (so people can alight from their cars without stepping into mud or plants). Does anyone have suggestions for low-growing plants that could withstand 1) road salt, 2) our wet winters,3) clay soil and 4) blasting hot, HUMID sun all summer long?
The mail-order company High Country Gardens offers a couple excellent pre-planned inferno strip plans, but they are designed for the arid West with its lean, fast-draining soil.
I would be very grateful for any suggestions you all might have.
When we had an area like that in Cincinnati, it was in front of our house but I left grass where people could walk and put in smaller gardens. Those contained small trees or Yucca as focal points with spring flowering bulbs, Salvia, Sempervivum, reblooming dwarf and miniature Iris, Liriope, etc. For extra color, I inter-planted with sun coleus, petunias and other annuals. I rarely had a problem with people stepping in them. People dragging dogs on leads was a different issue. LOL Of course this was in a normal front yard. I'm not sure how much traffic you have in your "shopping" area or if your public is well mannered.