Transforming your verge – making the most of the land you have and saving water

When it comes to adding value to your property look no further than your verge. Although it’s technically not owned by you, a good-looking verge can add dollars to your real estate. But why settle for just a grassed or paved area? Why not add that extra wow factor and make your neighbours jealous and taking that patch of grass to new heights by crafting your very own water-wise garden abundant with colour and form that changes constantly throughout the year.

Firstly, before you begin your water-wise garden, it is suggested you check with your local council about plant size restrictions and recommended varieties. In some instance, your local council may also offer free or discounted plants, mulch and even an initial clean-up of the verge area, so it’s good to check first.

Once you’ve checked with the council, it’s time to start designing with plants. Perhaps the best example of a Landscape Designer who works extensively with plants is a Dutch designer by the name of Piet Oudolph. Piet works primarily with perennial plant varieties with a naturalistic approach to gardening and chooses plants based on their structural characteristics and form as it goes through its various stages of flowering and regeneration. Piet works typically with block-type groupings of plants 70% of which are ‘structure’ plants and the other 30% as ‘filler’ plants. The structure plants are usually repeat bloomers, long season perennials and grasses while filler plants are only used for flower or foliage colour.

By using this design philosophy, and planting in no more than two to three layers, you can create a garden of ever-changing interest. Layers should be arranged with robust taller plants towards the house and lower hardy perennial species towards the road. Try and add as many native species as you can that have attractive floral activity and foliage – there’s plenty out there! By using natives, you can create biodiverse scheme that supports wildlife and will survive harsh conditions.

Although it may look bare to start off with, by three to five years your verge will really start to take shape. Colours and form will begin to blend and intermingle, and birds and butterflies will frequent your verge. Best of all you won’t need to worry about mowing the lawn every couple of weeks! Try even adding in some hardy herbs such as thyme, sage and parsley and make it a productive garden too. Or even scatter handfuls of everlastings during winter and watch as a flurry of colour begins to surface in spring.

Above all, do the right thing and start planning your very own attractive water-wise garden now so that you and your local community can benefit and save water.

*For further inspiration check out the magnificent botanical gardens located at Kings Park, Western Australia.