If you live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, you probably appreciate the walkable atmosphere and better connection with your neighbors. But sidewalks also present a challenge for your landscaping. What do you do with that strip of yard between the sidewalk and road? How can you make it attractive, without causing any problems?

It’s called the “hellstrip”, a term coined by Evelyn Hadden, author of “”Hellstrip Gardening.” As Evelyn observed, hellstrips tend to collect waste from neighborhood dogs, trash that has been deposited by the curb, and excess foot traffic from those who park on the street. And unfortunately, that little strip of land between pavement and sidewalk tends to dry out. Hellstrips can quickly become eyesores and detract from the curb appeal of your home.

But resist the temptation to sigh, accept the mess, and give up! With a combination of ingenuity and practicality, you can landscape your hellstrip to add beauty to your front yard.

First, remember to work with conditions rather than against them. The nature of hellstrips (dry and frequently traveled) makes them unsuitable candidates for a typical lawn. Instead, you should plant a garden in this spot that will work with those conditions, rather than against them.

Native plantings do well in hellstrips here in Southern California, because they’re evolved to be well suited for a dry environment. Choosing low-water shrubs, decorative grasses, and perennials will also cut down on the need for watering.

Xeriscaping also works well in hellstrips, so investigate the possibilities regarding colored pebbles or rocks as a substrate. Larger boulders can be decorative as well, and discourage those who want to take a detour from the sidewalk.

Do remember to keep plants under three feet in height, and don’t choose something that will put out large roots that disrupt the road, sidewalk, or your own driveway (such as trees that will grow large). Check your local restrictions to ensure you don’t break a rule that results in a fine and the need to remove landscaping.

To learn more about hellstrip landscaping, and to plan a small but impactful garden in your own front yard, give us a call to discuss your ideas.

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