What is a hellstrip?
Hellstrip is a rather evocative word for the area between the street and sidewalk or driveway that is nearly impossible to keep verdant. Plants in a hellstrip, also known as a parking strip garden and boulevard garden, can suffer from drought, excess heat, root competition, salinity from road salting, and car exhaust. A hellstrip is really not a friendly place for plants. People will often struggle for years to keep grass alive; but if you don't want landscaping rocks, what can you do?
For starters, you need to amend the soil. Soil full of organic material will better retain water and nutrients for plants in that desolate location. You could till in compost, make a raised bed, topdress with amendments, or build a lasagna bed. You'll also want to remove weeds and grass from the area to give new roots a fighting chance. If you have street trees planted in the hellstrip, a raised bed is advised.
Once the soil is amenable, you must pick out the right plants. You should look for plants that are drought tolerant or xeric, which can usually survive just about anything. Check out this list for some suggestions:
Plants for your Boulevard Garden
These plants are extremely tough and can thrive through drought, excessive heat, salinity, and just about any other abuse your hellstrip can throw at them.
|Bluebeard 'Dark Knight'||Caryopteris x clandonensis|
|Sand Cherry - 'Pawnee Buttes'||Prunus pumila var. besseyi|
|Prairie Coneflower||Ratibida pinnata|
|Russian Sage||Perovskia atriplicifolia|
|Red Yucca||Hesperaloe parviflorashe|
|Silver Buffaloberry||Shepherdia argentea|
|Snow in summer||Cerastium tomentosum|
|Ice plant||Delosperma nubigenum|
|Hummingbird Trumpet||Zauschneria californica|
|California poppy||Eschscholzia californica|
|Trailing Lantana 'Trailing Lavender'||Lantana montevidensis|
|Pineleaf Penstemon||Penstemon pinifolius|
|Blue Fescue||Festuca trachyphylla|
|Sea holly||Eryngium planum|
|'Tanager' Gazania||Gazania krebsiana|
|Apache Plume||Fallugia paradoxa|
|Lead Plant||Amorpha canescens|
|Creeping Rosemary 'Prostratus'||Rosmarinus officinalis|
|Mojave sage||Salvia pachyphylla|
|Cotoneaster 'Little Gem'||Cotoneaster adpressus|
As you put in drought-tolerant plants, make sure that you mulch to help the soil maintain adequate moisture. Most of the suggested plants will survive with little to no extra water, but moisture preservation with mulch will surely help. You can use commercial mulch or make your own using pine needles, straw or rocks. Be sure not to mulch too closely to the crown of your plants to prevent rotting. Remember that most drought-tolerant plants like well draining soil and do not need to have wet feet.
Before you dig
Some municipalities have restrictions on what homeowners can do with their hellstrip. Often the land is actually city-owned and therefore city-governed. Most places will allow you to landscape, but have strict regulations on plant height for safety reasons. Make sure you have underground utilities marked and consult city ordinances before you dig.
When you begin to successfully use the formerly wasted space of the hellstrip, you can transform your landscape with welcoming curb appeal. Plant the right plants the first time and they (and you) won't languish in the tough conditions any longer. You really can have a colorful and thriving hellstrip planting.
|Tanager Gazania - Alicewho||Manzanita - Grasmussen||Bluebeard - KMAC||Russian Sage - Secludedgardens|
|Pineleaf Penstemon - Altagardener||Hummingbird Trumpet - Growin||Rosemary - Knotimpaired||Cinquefoil - Sneirish|
|Apache Plume - Angele||Mojave Sage - Happenstance||CA Poppy - Mustangman826||Silver Buffaloberry - Trilian15|
|Yarrow 'Paprika' - Colliwobbles||Blue Fescue - Hczone6||Sand Cherry - Plant Select.org||Snow in Summer - Weezingreens|
|Prairie Coneflower - Creekwalker||Ice Plant - JamesCo||Lead Plant - Garbanzito|
Thumbnail of house - morguefile, gracey
|Sea Holly - Gabrielle||Trailing Lantana - Joeswife||Contoneaster - Ron_rothman||Red Yucca - WynnAnderson/Chihuahuan Desert Garden|
|Sidewalk with Cannas - morguefile photojock|