How to guide

So you want to set up a vegie garden on your nature strip and want to know how to go about it, then this is the post for you. Note that the method below is specific to City of Greater Bendigo and was completed in mid 2012.

  1. Having reviewed the Nature Strip Policy (2006) it was evident that vegetables were outside the listed “alternatives”. Having had a discussion with the engineering department it was determined that I would need to make a specific application.
  2. I submitted a simple email (see below) to council on 24 July 2012 with a Sketch Plan of the proposed layout. At the time of making the application there was an existing ornamental plum tree which was ageing and splitting apart.

    I wish to make an application to make a change to the current nature strip adjacent to our property. This application is for an alternative not listed in the current Nature Strip Policy approved by council October 4 2006.

    This application is to plant a combination of plant species listed in Appendix 1 of the Nature Strip Policy in combination with vegetable plants abiding to the maximum height restriction of 1 metre. As per the Nature Strip Policy the soil will not be built up more than 40 millimetres relative to the footpath or existing kerb. There are no distances listed in the Nature Strip Policy relating to offsetting vegetation from roadsides (to allow exit/entry to vehicles) or footpaths (to reduce vegetation overhang). If you could provide minimum offset distances it would be appreciated.

    The attached sketch shows the area of the proposed nature strip development. The existing tree in the middle of the treatment area has substantial damage and rot and has been referred to council for assessment. If the tree is to be removed I am more than willing to cut down the tree and stack the materials for collection by the council.

  3. I hadn’t had a response from council at the end of August so I sent another email asking for an update. The relevant person (Landscape Architect) had been on leave and responded 4 September stating they would look at it in the “next few days”. I did receive a phone call from the person that same day and had a general discussion about the proposal around the lack of defined council policy and potential risks. This was all summarised in an email which stated the council “generally supported” the idea and in addition to the Nature Strip Guidelines approval was subject to the following constraints;

    – A clear, level and safe area 80cm wide should be maintained between the kerb and the edge of the planting. This can be surfaced in mulch.

    – An access path between the kerb and the footpath should be provided every 12m along the garden bed.

    – No retaining wall, stakes or other obstacles should be placed in this area.

    – Any vegetable planting should be maintained to not attract vermin or produce odours.

    – Vegetable plants should be removed after harvest, or if the area is not to be used productively any further.

    – completion of a Works Within Road Reserves application (no charge)

    – in addition the council was going to have an arborist check the suspect tree

  4. I emailed the completed Works Within Road Reserves application to council on 7 September and received a response confirming approval on 5 October.
  5. The council did end up removing the ornamental plum tree along with a few trees in the street. The amusing thing is they planted 2 more of the exact same tree in its place. The council must have a “like for like” policy but from my perspective the plums trees are pointless and simply make a mess – something we will have to live with.
  6. While having the best intentions to begin the vegie patch prior to the end of 2012 life seemed to get in the way. The project was physically started in May 2013.

Take home messages;

  • Take a look at Gardening Australia’s high level step-by-step guide
  • Do your homework on the existing policies of your council
  • Get on the phone or make a visit to determine whether the council is amenable to the idea of a vegie patch on the verge
  • There are hoops that need to be jumped through so be patient
  • Once someone has “broken the ice” it will be easier for those that follow so make sure you document the process for your council and share it accordingly.
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