Wednesday, April 11th, 2012...6:41 am

Creative Gardening to Deal with Problems – Part II

Curbside flower bed by anarchitect

In the last post, TheGardenLady talked about creative ways of dealing with problems when gardening.  TheGardenLady mentioned “limbing up” of the trees on your property.  This means to cut the lower branches of your trees to see if enough light will now get to your plants.  If limbing up doesn’t work, find out if planting that strip is legal where you live. Some areas have outdoor restrictions.

If you are allowed to plant on the strip, the most important thing to do before planting on the strip or even on your front lawn is to utilize Safe Excavation Practices. Each state has a place where you can phone to know what is below where you are digging. This is your state’s Underground Damage Prevention Program. Most states have an 811 number. It is the law. Call them before you do any digging to be safe. Most flowering plants are fairly shallow-rooted, so there should be no problem. Still you cannot assume that underground facilities are at a certain depth.

Know if there any rights of way that are on your property. I know that I have a right of way on my property that is on my plot diagram and because there is a sewer drain near one area of the curb near the strip. That right of way has never been used in all the years that I have lived here. But that doesn’t mean that one day it won’t be used. So the things that I have planted in that area are plants that I won’t mind losing should that day come when the township has to open that drain. I also make it a point to try to keep the grate cleaned of debris that washes on top of it after a heavy rain storm, in the hopes that it will not get stopped up.

Another problem might occur if the township decides to put in new curbing, as mine did. I had to dig up everything I had planted and hold the plants in pots while they did the work of putting in the new curbs. Then I had to redo the soil and replant everything. This was backbreaking work, but that is one of the risks of planting on that strip. When the workers finished, I was upset that they used concrete instead of the newer and more permanent Belgian block that was used in other parts of my town. This means that I know that one day, the township will be back to redo the curbs. It is one of the risks I am willing to take to have flowers. (I was also upset that the people who did the work threw trash in the soil, trash, like old curbing, that I had to dig up and get rid of.)

Know that some plants become too tall or too wide and can become a driving hazard if they obstruct visibility. People pulling out of driveways may not be able to see around your plants and you might not see people walking near your driveway when you have to pull out. So in choosing your plants for that area, they shouldn’t be over two feet tall when mature.

Trees are more difficult to plant than small plants because as they age, their root balls get larger and may cause problems with utilities and the sidewalk blocks. Also, if they are not sited properly they might cause problems for drivers. If you want trees and have checked to see if you can plant them in the space, before you go to the expense of buying and planting the trees yourself, see if your town or city has a tree commission that will plant the trees for you.

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