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Turn your ‘hell strip’ into a heavenly oasis

Ron Finely garden

Ron Finley and his sidewalk garden in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of www.ronfinely.com

Do you have a hell strip? It’s one of those spots that remains dry, baked and ugly most of the year? It can be the patch of ground between the sidewalk and the curb or the corner where the hose just doesn’t reach; either way, they’re ‘hell strips’ and can be a real challenge to gardeners.
The good news is that with careful soil preparation, design and plant selection, you can transform an eyesore into a heavenly border that rarely needs water. True hell strip gardening success begins at ground level, so this month’s focus is on readying the ground for an attractive garden that will stand the test of time – even in a drought. Grab your shovel and let’s go!

  • Rid the area of weeds and sod. Either dig them out or apply one of our earth-friendly herbicides.
  • To ensure good drainage and future soil health, work in 2-3 inches of quarter 10 crushed basalt gravel and 2-3 inches of compost into the existing soil. The type of gravel is important. You want crushed basalt, not round gravel, because it travels down into the soil and breaks it up better.
  • Curbside beds in urban areas are notorious for having soil that is compacted, contaminated and depleted of nutrients. This issue can be addressed by removing and replacing the soil altogether or by heavily amending it. Another solution is to only include plants that can tolerate these harsh conditions.
  • Because contaminants from paved surfaces are regularly introduced to curbside gardens, there is a good chance the soil may contain high levels of lead and other heavy metals. If that is the case, you can help by growing certain plants like annual sunflowers, which take up heavy metals into their tissues. These plants must then be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  • It is a good idea to test the soil before planting edibles.

Once the soil is plant-ready, you can come to Evergreen to select the best drought-tolerant and native plants to beautify that “hell-strip” to turn it into something heavenly!

Evergreen Landscaping can help turn your trouble spots into heavenly gardens. Contact us today!