Thursday, June 6, 2013

Curb Strip Plantings with Nepeta, Sedum and Iris

Catmint (Nepeta 'Walker's Low') grows low mounds in our curb strip over ground cover Sedum 'Acre'.
Catmint (Nepeta 'Walker's Low') grows low mounds in our curb strip over ground cover Sedum 'Acre'.
The garden is pulling into summer, which make it time for many of my favorite perennials. In our curb strips (known also as parkways, hell strips, etc), we have removed all of our turf and planted beautiful, low-maintenance plants instead. These areas have required some weeding in spring, but with that little time investment (as compared to spending 20 minutes mowing them every week!) we get something that is even nicer to look at, draws pollinators and help make this outlining area part of our garden. Now, we can walk down the sidewalk and enjoy the changing scene every day.

We actually have two large curb areas, and each has a succession of flowers and foliage build into their planting. Earlier this season, we had hundreds of Anemone blanda 'White Splendour' and Muscari aucheri 'Ocean Magic' in the side curb (above and below).  In the front curb, also known as the Front Woodland, we had an early bloom of crocuses, daffodils and forsythia, followed by a shocking bloom of one hundred red Darwin tulips (Tulip 'Red Impression').

The catmint are planted in the first third of this curb strip so far. I have a few other perennials mixed in further down, but I am thinking about dividing a few more catmint for this area.
The catmint are planted in the first third of this curb strip so far. I have a few other perennials mixed in further down, but I am thinking about dividing a few more catmint for this area.
This photo gives you a nice appreciation for how a planted curb can be more interesting than plain old turf (as on the other side of the street) and still look somewhat controlled.
This photo gives you a nice appreciation for how a planted curb can be more interesting than plain old turf (as on the other side of the street) and still look somewhat controlled.
The front curb strip, or Front Woodland, has many more perennials to care it through the seasons. I recently added some catmint divisions here as well. Lamb's ears (Stachys byzantine), daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), Geraniums, Iris siberica and Allium multibulbosum are also planted here.
The front curb strip, or Front Woodland, has many more perennials to carry it through the seasons. I recently added some catmint divisions here as well. Lamb's ears (Stachys byzantine), daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), Geraniums, Iris siberica and Allium multibulbosum are also planted here.
Iris siberica blooming with Nepeta 'Walker's Low' in our curb by the front sidewalk.
Iris siberica blooming with Nepeta 'Walker's Low' in our curb by the front sidewalk.
Curb areas are such a scary area to mess with, but there are also big rewards! I hope more people in the US are willing to be daring and get it a try. We have nothing to lose but our weedy turf. ;)

Read more about our corner, town garden on our garden map.

23 comments:

  1. I LOVE your curb garden! I think it's great that it is low maintenance, and also has such great color :)

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    1. Thanks Emily! Chartreuse and blue/purple is one of my favorite color combinations.
      ~Julie

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  2. Great idea! I've been meaning to work catmint into some weedy areas between my house and drive. Nothing else will grow there, besides weeds, but I think the Catmint will not only hold its own, but take over the existing weeds. And look much prettier to boot! Your succession of blooms has me dripping we covetousness. Brilliant!

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    1. Filling the garden with early emerging foliage is a great way to beat the weeds every year. The Sedum 'Acre' dies back to the roots each year, but the little rosettes remain to cover the ground, which also helps keep out the weeks.
      ~Julie

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  3. What a wonderful job you've done with succession planting and beautifying that hellstrip. My street doesn't have a sidewalk but I garden right to the curb. It's a dry, part sun spot. Not easy to find a variety of plants that work.

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    1. Sedum 'Acre' works really well in very hot, dry conditions. Many other ground sedums do as well. I would love to see your sidewalk planting as well!
      ~Julie

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  4. Your side of the road looks so much better than the other,maybe they don't realise that it is so much less work than cutting the grass. Yours looks really great, its a wonder others aren't copying you.

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    1. Thanks Pauline. It is quite a bit of work up front, but I think it is worth it :)
      ~Julie

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  5. I just wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. Also, I was wondering if the sedum is ever a problem. Do you have to trim it or pull it away from the other plants to keep them from being smothered?
    -Michele

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    1. Thanks Michele! I find this Sedum just right for my needs in these areas. It is vigorous, so it grows quickly to fill in areas that would otherwise be attacked by weeds. But when it sometimes starts to cover other plants a bit in mid-summer, I just pull it out in that area or push it aside. It dies back to the ground, where it has little rosettes, and that is why I think it is not really in danger of eating everything. The cold beats it back and then it starts it fast growth from the ground level each year.

      It also yellow flowers, which you can just see in my photos.
      ~Julie

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  6. I like it - that sounds very interesting - does a car have to drive over the top? I am guessing not as the I sibirica would be a bit put out.

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    1. Catharine,
      The Sedum will take a little abuse, foot traffic and even cars, and pops right back up in a few days time. I have had a large semi-trailer truck drive over our corner curb every few months, and the Sedum keeps regenerating itself.

      The Iris, and the other quash-able perennials, are set back in the bed from the road 2-4 feet (1 m), so they are in no danger. The side curb is about 2 feet wide, and the front curb 10 feet wide (3 m).
      ~Julie

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  7. Brilliant design! I use a lot of Nepeta but I prefer the shorter varieties. That Sedum was a great choice, what is the species? I use wild strawberry as the basic groundcover in the parkways. It holds up very well, but I have to cut it back with the weedwacker ever couple weeks.

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    1. Sedum 'Acre'. I do almost nothing with it throughout the year. It dies back to its rosettes every winter, and looks lovely under crocus and daffodils (which you can see in many of my spring photos).
      ~Julie

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  8. Wow, I love what you've done! I've never heard/seen this curbside garden before and I LOVE it!!! You have such a way with choosing plants that go well together and it's amazing that it's low maintenance too. Does the Sedum 'Acre' do well in shady parts of the garden too?

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    1. Thanks Zabby! Sedum 'Acre' grows quite well in the shade as well as sun. It may not be just as fast, but it has filled in nicely among my ivy while I am waiting for the it to cover our hillside (also by the sidewalk).

      I would not call it "slow" growing in any conditions.... the only thing that it does need is a bit of water when it is first planted to get established.
      ~Julie

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  9. I don't have a curb strip, but your incredibly graceful combination of plants makes me wish I did! Wow! I was reading something the other day about how some communities and neighborhood zoning rules don't allow people to plant anything but grass there. This is an excellent illustration of how allowing it is an improvement. I realize sometimes the municipality owns the land, but even so, it would make sense to allow homeowners to beautify the space--or hire someone to do it. Very nice.

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    1. Thanks Beth! Very sweet of you to say.

      Our municipality has right of way in these area, but the homeowners are responsible to maintaining them of course. And I expect to have foot traffic and vehicles driving over it occasionally, so I just do not plant my expensive or treasured plants there. Most of these I propagated myself. Not a place for lady slippers!!! :)
      ~Julie

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  10. Fabulous low maintenance curbside...wish I had one so I could create something this lovely.

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  11. Love the look and love the concept, but cannot see how I could do it with our narrow street which makes stepping on the curb strip totally mandatory every time the car is used. Any ideas on how to cope with that?

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    1. That would be a good curb to use some more hardscaping... stones, small or large, with ground sedums or other rock garden plants growing in them. Sedums will rebound from quite a bit of foot traffic. But for practicality, you will need to think about a hard, permanent surface so that it works even in winter.
      ~Julie

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  12. Fantastic idea! I am a huge fan of the chartreuse and purple color combination. And I can never get enough of cat mint. And now that I have discovered ground hogs won't eat it, it may just be my favorite plant!

    You've got a very beautiful garden Julie. Thanks for sharing the great photos.
    Susan

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    1. Thanks Susan! Catmint is almost bullet proof I think... the scented foliage is so pleasant and keeps more things from eating it. I have never personally noticed cats eating it... and we probably would have because there are a lot of cats in our neighborhood! Glad it will work for you too. :)
      ~Julie

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