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A New Year's Suggestion: Replace Your Parkway!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Since 2014 is upon us, I thought I might offer a suggestion for the New Year that could save you money, improve your property's "curb appeal" and help bend the curve of Southern California's water usage downwards by just a tad, and given our ever vanishing water supply … every tad does count!
It involves taking a look at one of the most obvious but most overlooked pieces of property on every block—that strip of land that lies between the street and the walkway, known as the "Parkway."
The parkway and walkway together make up the sidewalk, which is part of the public right-of-way. But that doesn't mean it's the city's responsibility for it's maintenance. The adjacent property owner is responsible for maintaining all of the parkway except the street trees, which are maintained by the city: responsible (we hope) for their planting, trimming and removal
WHY ARE PARKWAYS IMPORTANT?
Parkways are important to individual property owner and the city as a whole for the following reasons:
DESIGNING A PARKWAY
Parkways can be designed in a variety of ways, depending on the individual property owner's design objectives and commitment to maintenance. However, all parkways should require relatively little supplemental water, little mowing and little fertilizing to reduce their carbon footprint.
In particular, conventional grass parkways that require high levels of supplemental water and regular mowing and fertilizing should be avoided. Southern California property owners are encouraged to covert their conventional grass parkways and front yards into drought-tolerant, sustainable landscapes.
YOUR GUIDE FOR PARKWAY DESIGN
What follows is a guide for parkway redesign, taken from West Hollywood's Parkway Design Guide.
All parkways should be:
For parkways adjacent to curbside parking, if the parkway planting is not walkable, a means of access from the curb to the walkway should be provided. It may vary with the adjacent use and street characteristics, for example:
Where there is no curbside parking and the parkway is not walkable, a path or stepping-stones shall be provided every 50 feet.
Plants with thorns should not be planted adjacent to any walkway where someone might come in contact with the thorns.
PARKWAY PLANTING GUIDE: to download a PDF of the referenced tables below, photographs of the plants, and examples of parkway plantings, please click: Parkway Planting Guide.
WHAT'S YOUR PARKWAY TYPE?
Type 1 – Low-Maintenance, Walkable Plants
If you want a parkway that requires minimal design and maintenance, install walkable plants. Table 1 lists some examples. Most of the grasses listed do not require mowing. Sedge, Buffalo and Grama Grass can be mowed a few time a year to maintain a lawn-like appearance.
Type 2 – Low-Growing, Low-Maintenance Plants
If you want a parkway that requires a little more design and the addition of a walkway or stepping stones, but still requires minimal maintenance, plant low-growing grasses and/or groundcover. There are many choices; Table 2 lists some of them. Your parkway might be meadow-like in appearance with a mix of grasses and perennials, including some from Table 1 and some from Table 2.
Type 3 – Complement Your Front Yard
If you want a parkway that is an extension of your sustainable, non-lawn front garden, use low- to medium-height grasses, shrubs and perennials. There are many plant choices with this parkway type.
Table 3 lists some reliable drought-tolerant natives that are taller - but still less than 3 feet tall - that can be mixed in with plants in Table 2.
Note: there are many other plants that are suitable for parkways, which you can find in the on-line resources.
Preparing Your Parkway Soil
The most important thing you can do to ensure your parkway's success is to prepare the soil. Soil preparation saves you money in the long run because it reduces the need to replace plants, lowers water use and reduces fertilizer applications.
Watering Your Drought-Tolerant Parkway
Too much water can kill drought-tolerant plants. So, don't over-water, especially in clay soil. The best approach is to water only when the soil is dry at a depth of 3" to 4". Or, turn on your in-line drip irrigation three times a week (45 minutes each time) to establish your parkway (first 3 months); then, once it is established, once a week from October through March and twice a week from April through September.
Use these resources to for plant selection, recommended spacing, and detailed descriptions of these plants and others:
Give The Gift That Will Keep On Giving!
If you're interested in arranging for a Garden of Eva Gift Certificate, please give me a call 323.788.3831 or fill out the Gift Certificate Information Form and I'll be in touch. I take American Express, Master Card, Visa or can invoice you directly.
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