This article describes a very attractive but low maintenance planting and hardscape design for a parking strip in NE Portland.
Making great access across a strip for dry, non-muddy feet is practical and provides an attractive low maintenance landscape that adds tons of curb appeal to your home. This is effectively demonstrated by my design at NE 35th and Stanton.
The strip faces west and people rarely park there. The strip, which has mature suckering ornamental pear trees, creates some cool for my client’s house in the summer, but are difficult to plant under because of root mass. The trees also don’t share water or nutrients and have small but abundant leaf drop in the fall. Selecting under plantings that don’t have to have every pear leaf removed prior to winter is simply smart and pays back every year in less work.
After creating a soft shape of practical hardscape, I selected a combination of plants that will create interest for the entire year. My client doesn’t have to think much about the plants because they are automatically irrigated with a drilled emitter tube system that is underground. The irrigation also helps the plants compete with the pear tree roots. Over time, even in difficult conditions, the plants will need less and less water. My client takes her weeding seriously, so even in the very first year, this planting is already filling in. The style is very Northwest – natural and serene and adds to the curb appeal of the entire landscape. By the third year, the weeding should be quite minimal as the plants have already spread and thickened, discouraging weeds effectively.
There are several things that need to be considered prior to designing an attractive solution for that difficult parking strip in front of your home. On the top of the list are: 1) the sun direction; 2) whether you have trees in your strip and; 3) whether people often park near the strip. Other things that are equally important to consider are the utilities near the strip – such as water meters, downspout connection to the street, electric and gas lines, fireplugs, and lastly, the rights of people, especially that of your neighbors to park and access the sidewalk. Remember that the parking strip actually belongs to the city or county.
Typical design issues such as soil preparation, irrigation and what style of planting that will look best with your home also figures in. A parking strip is the foreground view of your home, so it matters what it looks like year round. And last, but most important, is how it will look in the internet photo when it is time to sell your home.
For more on parking strip gardens – check out Kym Pokorny’s article by clicking on the link below. The featured designs don’t seem to be low maintenance. However, they are quite beautiful and fun. Click on the following link to read her article. http://blog.oregonlive.com/kympokorny/2010/08/design_parking_strips_for_beau.html