How native does your street garden grow?

22/03/2021 | 2 mins

Not every household has a garden but each one has a street verge and researchers from The University of Western Australia have uncovered the growing popularity of street verge gardening under way in metropolitan Perth.

The findings, published on the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub website, found households gained a variety of benefits from verge gardening, including personal satisfaction, shade and cooling, privacy, connection to nature and social interaction.

Dr Natasha Pauli from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and her team set out to uncover the benefits and challenges of these garden makeovers for local residents, key stakeholders and wildlife.

Dr Pauli said while they may be small in size compared with other sites of urban greening and restoration, verge gardens were highly visible in neighbourhoods dominated by vehicle and foot traffic.

“When you think about street verges or nature strips, you may think there’s not much to be inspired by,” Dr Pauli said.

“But there is a growing number of keen Perth gardeners who see these spaces as blank canvases ready to be transformed.”

Street verge garden

The researchers found a growing trend for residents to transform their verges to native gardens.

A companion report highlighted that almost all of the 31 local councils in Perth now permit native verge gardens, with interest from residents expected to increase.

Dr Pauli said people started verge gardens for a variety of reasons,” Dr Pauli said.

“For some it was a sense of environmental responsibility, others were motivated by incentive programs, such as those run by local councils.”

Insect surveys also found evidence of native bees, flower-visiting wasps and hoverflies visiting flowering native plants in street verge gardens.

Dr Pauli said the research could be used to better target programs to maximise community interest and meet local social and environmental goals.

“Verge gardens have the potential to act as sites of education, socialisation and contemplation for local residents.”

Dr Natasha Pauli

“By providing residents with the means to improve the potential ecological and environmental values of verge gardens, these small sites may also collectively contribute to habitat for wildlife, and to other sustainability goals.”

The research project is supported by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.

Media references

Dr Natasha Pauli (School of Agriculture and Environment), 08 6488 3546

Simone Hewett (UWA Media and PR Manager), 08 6488 3229 / 0432 637 716

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