Now’s the time to plant a verge garden

Did you know that Autumn is the best time of the year to start planting?

The warm weather and soil provide the perfect environment for plants to take root and thrive before the cold winter weather arrives.

Now that the weather is cooling, Wollongong City Council is encouraging green-thumbed residents to pick up the challenge, and shovel, to bring greenery to their streets.

Last year, Council released its verge garden guidelines as part of its Urban Greening Strategy to encourage residents to make the most of public land between their property and the street.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said that the verge garden guidelines provide simple advice for residents planting on the verges around their homes.

“When planning your verge garden there’s often a lot of creative and practical thought that goes into choosing the right plants and design for the space,” Cr Bradbery said.

“If you’re not sure where to start with your verge garden, I suggest that you read our guidelines and keep an eye out for the demonstration gardens that are popping up around the city.”

Council’s horticulturalist teams have planted three demonstration gardens at Coledale Community Hall and Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre. Inspiration can also be found at Wollongong Botanic Garden.

“You may also see a number of community-led verge gardens as more residents take up the opportunity to garden on the Council-owned land. Earlier this year, 12 residents received one-off vouchers to fund the purchasing of plants for their verge gardens as part of Council’s recent Connecting Neighbours Grant program,” Cr Bradbery said.

Here are some Council gardening tips to help you make your verge garden a success.

Do your research

Not all plants are suitable for every location, and some types may require more gardening ability than others. Whether you want to plant a native verge garden, a low-maintenance garden, or lots of colourful flowers, it’s important to do your research on the plants you plan to buy.

Council also asks that residents choose plants that grow or can be pruned to no more than 700mm in height to ensure pedestrians’ line of sight to traffic on your street.

Need an expert opinion? Council’s horticulturalists are on hand at every Wollongong Botanic Garden plant sale to prove advice about choosing the right plants for your garden. You can also pick up a printed copy of the Verge Guidelines along with helpful guides on local plant species.

Visit the Wollongong Botanic Garden website for upcoming plant sales. The next plant sale is on Friday May 21.

Talk to your neighbours

It’s always a good idea to have a chat with your neighbours before you start planting on the verge. Verges are public spaces so make sure you share your plans and ask if your neighbours have any concerns or questions. You never know – they may want to get involved!

If you plan to plant edible plants, keep in mind that they might be harvested by neighbours and people walking by.

Check for services – dial before you dig

The verge area outside your property can contain above- and below-ground services such as lighting, powerlines and poles, service access pits, water, sewerage, stormwater, gas, telephone and optic fibre cables.

Dial Before you Dig is a free service that provides you with information about the underground infrastructure on your verge. Go to or call 1100 to get your free dial before you dig into your verge.

Leave room for the postie and car doors

It’s important to remember that verges are public spaces. That means your plants mustn’t impede access for people using the space.

We ask residents to leave a one metre clearance around the letterbox so the postie can reach your letterbox. Your verge garden must also have a 600mm clearance from the edge of the kerb so people can open their car door.

Maintain safe access for pedestrians on your verge

When planning your garden, leave a level grass strip free from hazards so pedestrians can walk along the verge. This pathway must be maintained to at least 1200mm in width.

Don’t install any structures or hard surfaces

Council asks gardeners not to install hard surfaces or structures in their verge garden. Edging, sculptures, compost bins, seating and other items with hard surfaces can be dangerous for pedestrians. Keep these items out of your verge garden.

Ask Council to plant a free tree on your verge

Residents can request free street trees, planted by Council staff, on verges outside their properties. Call Council on (02) 4227 7111 to make a request today.

Stay safe when gardening

Whenever you’re working in the garden, make sure you wear enclosed shoes, gloves and use sun protection. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for vehicles and pedestrians as you work. Never work from on the road itself while planting your verge garden.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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