Making a property and a suburb more beautiful begins at the kerb. This is the narrow space between boundary wall and street, also sometimes called a verge. This strip of land is usually owned by the municipality but falls on the homeowner to do the maintenance as municipalities neither have the capacity or the will to do it. In private estates or sectional ownership complexes verges are normally maintained by the body corporate.
Kerb appeal can increase property values for the whole neighbourhood. A suburb is judged on its appearance, whether it is attractive and well maintained or tatty and unsightly. Remember your verge/kerb is the point of entry to your property, this little strip of land can well determine how your property is judged in the eyes of the public. If you can’t enhance the area with attractive plantings, then at least make the effort to keep it free from weeds by mowing it regularly.
Here are some tips for creating a well-tended verge garden:
Kerb side spaces are often heavily trafficked, making them tough to cultivate. The ground is hard-packed, and plants can be crushed underfoot. Rocks might add character to the landscape but will dent car doors if placed too near the kerb. Tall, dense foliage can be a traffic hazard, preventing passing motorists from seeing pets and children. Pedestrian traffic flow is another factor to consider, a hazardous pathway constructed by you may lead to lawsuits.
- Be aware of sight lines, especially at intersections. Drivers may have trouble turning if something tall is in the way.
- Go with perennials rather than annuals, then the soil is only worked once and it’s more secure. Succulents and hardy indigenous plants are an excellent choice. Shrubs should be kept low near the road, no more than 50cm in height, background shrubs can be higher.
- Tree planting is the municipality’s job: people sometimes make bad choices, planting trees like Coral or Plane Trees which have troublesome root systems that are difficult to control, it can do damage roads, sidewalks and boundary walls.
- Be cautious about displaying art, as you don’t want to distract drivers and attract metal thieves! It’s probably better if you put those kinds of things inside your property.
With the help of Rachelle Smith a photo gallery of verge gardens were compiled in the Knysna Heights & Paradise suburbs of Knysna. Many properties were destroyed by the ‘Great Fire of 2017’, now three years later homes were rebuilt and some lovely gardens were created.
This verge is level, making it easy to create a safe walkway of gravel. The planting consists mainly of fynbos with the odd hardy exotic for variation and colour throughout the year.
This verge has a lawned walkway on a slight slope, the area to the back has been contained with rocks. Planting consists of Proteas, Pincushions, succulents and Gazanias.
The steep verge has been contained with remains of a burned Cypress tree. The large stump creates a focal point and a reminder of the fire of 2017. Plantings of various succulents give colour and interest all year.
Another example of a verge on a slope where a walkway is not possible. The embankment is contained with logs and rocks. Foreground plantings of low growing succulents, restios, grasses, and various small growing aloes, the background has a Cape cheesewood and Kei apple tree.
This south facing verge has been landscaped with tree ferns, leopard trees, agapanthus, ligularia, gazanias and topiary eugenias, fillers consist of seasonal annuals.
The extensive verge has been landscaped with topiary Rhapiolepis and Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold, edged with Gazania rigens var. uniflora
Agapanthus, Lavender, Gaura form the backbone of this verge garden
Westringia, Pennisetum, Flax, Aloe arborescens, Portulacaria affra (Spekboom) were planted on this west facing aspect
Du Preez street. Hardy Salvia leucantha gives longlasting colour. Ridge Drive. Pink Sunsation roses, Hydrangea, Wistringia.