The most popular sidewalk gardens are those of the Ile de Ré. This place is where hollyhocks growing at the junction of the façades and alleys beautify the Rhetian villages. From now on, the pavements gardened, or vegetated are in full development. This happens not only in the countryside, where they always existed but to the heart of the cities. If you and your neighbors want to create a sidewalk garden, this handy sheet is for you.
Zoom on sidewalk gardens
In general, initiatives to green the city and garden in urban areas have increased in recent years. Examples are vegetable gardens, or even more wild initiatives, such as seed bombs or moss graffiti.
Legally, sidewalks belong to the public space, and no individual can dispose of them freely. However, a growing number of municipalities allow, and even encourage sidewalk gardens. They also permit residents to plant a strip about 15 cm wide. This is mostly at the junction between the sidewalk and the wall of buildings.
You create associations to defend this type of project with municipalities. Also to advise residents on the choice of plants to grow to make the city more pleasant. Moreover, to reintroduce biodiversity in urban areas. If you are considering the creation of a sidewalk garden, get closer to these associations. They will be able to advise you
1. Contact other residents
A real sidewalk garden requires some work like cutting the sidewalk, evacuation of rubble, disbursement, and topsoil. You can not do all these without the agreement of your municipality. You will get this agreement easily when there is a will expressed by a group of residents.
Start by contacting other residents to assess their interest in this project. If necessary, form yourself in an association.
2. Ask the mayor about the possibility of creating a sidewalk garden
If a common desire to create a sidewalk garden exists in your street, inquire at the town hall to know:
- if you grant the permission to create this garden;
- if the town hall is ready to finance the necessary works.
Currently, many municipalities are in favor of such initiatives. This, for a minimal cost, helps to reintroduce nature in the city. It also helps to mitigate pollution by absorbing specific atmospheric dust and gases. This is while promoting links, exchanges, and services between residents.
3. In the absence of a sidewalk garden, consider planters
The creation of a real sidewalk garden is not possible if your municipality does not permit you. Can you then consider having flowery planters along the wall of your home?
Again, start by requesting permission from your municipality, because legally, you do not have the right. This authorization will very rarely be denied if you agree not to interfere with curbside traffic. This is not only by pedestrians but also strollers and wheelchairs.
- Avoid pots of flowers that a gust of wind can spill, break and spread on the sidewalk.
- Instead, install planters :
- rather narrow (15 to 17 cm wide) so nobody blames you too much to encroach on the sidewalk;
- provided with drainage holes ;
- And very stable: opt for terracotta planters which, when weighted with earth. These will be too heavy to knock down and not easy for a malicious passer-by to steal.
- Finally, make sure to prune any plant that threatens to encroach on the public space or to impede traffic.
Note: When watering your planters, be careful not to spill too much water on the sidewalk. For this, place a thick layer of draining clay balls in the farm. Also, water slowly, to let the earth imbibe little by little.
4. Install trellises to hoist climbers
You will certainly want to grow climbing on your small piece of garden sidewalk. Avoid climbing climbers (ivy, vine-virgin, climbing hydrangea), which would be problematic at the time of the facelift. You have all the other climbers, which you should trellis on support covering the facade.
- As support, use wooden or plastic trellises: some are extensible to fit the size of your wall panel.
- Don’t directly lay the lattice on the wall, but leave a space of at least 5 cm between the support and the wall. This is to allow the circulation of air around the plants.
Note: If you plant in planters, you can also install trellises planted in the planter. And preferably also attached to the facade (a simple double-sided adhesive can do the trick).
5. Choose plants adapted to the sidewalk garden
Take into account the duration of sunshine
As for all the plantations, choose your plants according to the sunlight. You should do this while always checking the pictogram which indicates the constant sunlight (sun, partial shade, shadow).
Note: In a street, the sun is usually under limit because of the height of the buildings opposite. For example, your sidewalk may be facing south and yet not suitable for full sun plants.
To find out precisely the number of hours of sunshine in the day :
- At least 4 hours a day: you can plant plants in full sun.
- 2 to 3 hours of sun a day: opt for plants of partial shade.
- Less than 2 hours a day: plant only shade plants.
Bet on different kinds of plants
- Trellises covered with climbers, perennials of various heights and some annuals growing from seedlings … Here is your portion of pavement for beautiful flowering!
- Lighten up your compositions with small grasses that bring a bit of wild air to the heart of the city. For example Stipa tenuifolia
- Consider integrating your planting with some plants attractive in autumn and winter. This is so that the overall look remains cozy even in the winter months with colorful foliage throughout the year. For example (‘Caramel’, ‘Palace Purple’), evergreen grasses (green sedges or bronze, blue fescue…), small round boxwood, rosemary, thyme …
Flower a sidewalk in the shade or the shade
Take inspiration from the recommended plants for a north-facing balcony. As for the climbers, the honeysuckle likes half shade and some small climbing roses. For example, the delightful ‘ Nutty Blush ‘ with small pink pearl pompoms.
Flower a sidewalk in the sun or relatively sunny
This case expands the range of plants that you allow.
- Think of perennial climbers (passionflower, jasmine officinale). And annual climbers with bright colors (Volubilis, Suzanne with black eyes, cobée, sweet peas …) Climbing roses of small size are as well useful (‘Narrow Water,’ ‘Garland d ‘love’…).
- Bet on the robust and straightforward perennials. For example, anthemis, valerian, nepétas, lavender, sage, lupine … or on small perennials of rock, like the sedums.
- Complete with annuals or biennials: hollyhocks, marigolds, California poppies …