Council verges no longer the Cinderella of urban streetscapes

Households that tend their street verges gain extra shade and cooling, privacy, connection to nature, and social interaction, a Perth study has found.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia led by Dr Natasha Pauli reviewed the online verge policies of 31 Perth local councils and conducted stakeholder interviews to uncover the benefits and challenges of managing these “liminal” spaces more effectively.

Dr Pauli said while they may be small compared with other sites of urban greening and restoration, verge gardens were highly visible in neighbourhoods dominated by vehicle and foot traffic.

The study found a growing trend for residents to transform their verges to native gardens – in line with the 31 councils now permitting native verge gardens.

“When you think about street verges or nature strips, you may think there’s not much to be inspired by,” Dr Pauli said.

“But there is a growing number of keen Perth gardeners who see these spaces as blank canvases ready to be transformed.”

Dr Pauli said people started verge gardens for a variety of reasons.

“For some it was a sense of environmental responsibility, others were motivated by incentive programs, such as those run by local councils.”

Insect surveys also found evidence of native bees, flower-visiting wasps, and hoverflies visiting flowering native plants in street verge gardens.

Dr Pauli said the research could be used to better target programs to maximise community interest and meet local social and environmental goals.

“By providing residents with the means to improve the potential ecological and environmental values of verge gardens, these small sites may also collectively contribute to habitat for wildlife, and to other sustainability goals.”

Click here to learn more about the UWA study.