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Andrew’s Garden Blog

Why not plant your front verge?

By June 7, 2017June 21st, 2022No Comments

I’m a big fan of planting our verges. Kalamunda and the surrounding areas would become a much more beautiful place if more verges were planted.

Every year, the City of Kalamunda spends ten of thousands of dollars maintaining the front verges of it’s resident’s properties. This is money that is incorporated into the resident’s rates. If more residents planted and maintained their own verges, then perhaps the money saved could be used elsewhere.

If we all planted and maintained our verges, think how lovely it would look. Plus the birds, bugs and bees would be much happier.

I haven’t touched the verge (apart from maintenance) for a couple of years and I still have some areas to finish off and more plants to be added. I thought I’d also take the opportunity to give some tips and advice about my understanding of verge planting in the City of Kalamunda. 

We purchased the property in 2013 and the verge was weed and various grasses (mowed to create a green lawn) and gravel. It was fine but I wanted to create something a bit more interesting. I had a couple of aims that I wanted to achieve; firstly, to create a 52m long tunnel effect of plant material surrounding the footpath, so as you walk along it, you’re surrounded by plants, and secondly, to play around with different shades of purples and reds.

Before I touched the verge, I went and spoke with the City of Kalamunda and asked them what I was and wasn’t allowed to do with the verge. They gave me the following advice;

* Plants are not to obstruct the footpath or the road.

* Plants are not to restrict the vision of drivers exiting or entering driveways.

* Generally, plants should not be higher than 80cm (with the exception of trees).

* The City of Kalamunda recommended that I didn’t plant edible plants on the verge. This is in-case the food is tampered with, urinated on by dogs or affected by exhaust fumes.

* The City of Kalamunda owns any plants planted on the verge.

* It’s up to you to maintain the verge for visual appeal. The City of Kalamunda can come in any time to maintain the trees (pruning) and they don’t have to notify you or gain your permission.

I chose ornamental trees in particular because I love the autumn colours and I thought they would work well with some of the large trees that were already growing on the property. I haven’t finished working on the verge yet and I might plant natives in some of the remaining areas.   

I started by digging up all the weeds and grasses. Once they were removed, I started to dig some sample holes to get an understanding of what the soil was like. It was some of the driest, compacted, seemingly lifeless soil I’d seen for some time; grey sand, gravel, road base spillage and concrete. So I decided to dig two 52m x 60cm x 60cm trenches by hand, where the two lines of hedges would go. A third hedge trench (where the boundary hedge sits) was also dug, but thankfully the soil was a lot softer there.

The trenches were filled with a premium landscape soil mix, along with charcoal, coconut fibre, pea hay and sheep manure dug into the soil (I like to dig my pea hay into the soil mix). I also raised the entire verge by another 15cm by bordering it with railway sleepers, and the entire top 15cm of the verge was filled with the same soil mix.         

I wanted to celebrate mixed hedging. I really like the look of mixed hedges for it adds so many extra colours, textures and flowering variations. For the main Lilly Pilly hedge, I staggered ‘Big Red’, ‘Orange Twist’ and ‘Winter Lights’. When the new growth appears, the colours are stunning. And when the sun shines on them and lights up the new growth, the colours are electric. 

The next mixed hedge is a staggered combination of Viburnum ‘Anvi’ and Photinia ‘Black Jack’. The mixed hedge closest to the road comprises of Lilly Pilly ‘Big Red’, Photinia ‘Red Robin’ and Metrosideros ‘Fiji’.     

The feature trees include Crab Apple ‘Tom Matthews’ that I turned into standards, Prunus x blireana, Prunus ‘Nigra’, Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ (one of my favourite trees) and ‘Crimson Sentry’ maples. 

Apart from heavily watering the plants throughout their first summer (to encourage deep rooting), I rarely water any of the plants on the verge. I might hand water three or four times a year during summer, but that’s it. The only maintenance I do on the hedges is a prune, maybe half a dozen times a year. I add the clippings from the hedges into the soil and I add organic material which comprises of the shredded autumn leaves from my Liquid Ambers which I compost with sheep manure for about three – four months. 

It is a really easy-care verge. The only problems are I have a massive amount of soft scale that infests the ‘Big Red’ Lilly Pilly plants (the adjacent ‘Orange Twist’ and ‘Winter Lights’ are untouched). And my ‘Crimson Sentry’ maples don’t perform well. I’ve replaced them four times now. I’m either stubborn or stupid but I’m adamant I’m going to get these bloody trees to grow.

I really like the look of the verge and I’m looking forward to finishing it off (hopefully sometime soon).   

So why not plant your own verge? Improve the look of your house and see what beautiful plant combinations you can come up with.