Hellstrip gardening is quickly becoming a much-needed trend with city and suburban gardeners. In those hot, dry spaces between the sidewalk and the street, these spaces are also called inferno strip gardens, parking strip gardens, or simply sidewalk gardens. No matter the name, planting these often-overlooked areas is a great idea! It’s a fantastic way to add curb appeal to your home, easily add a new space for more plants, and eliminate the need to mow. Plus, it's a great conversation starter, and a garden that will create a space your community can enjoy.
What Is Hellstrip Gardening?
But first things first: what is a hellstrip? A hellstrip is the planting strip between the sidewalk and the road in front of a property, often found in cities and suburban areas. It’s usually planted with high-maintenance grass, a task that often falls upon the homeowner to keep up with. But recently, gardeners are realizing this space can be much more than that. It can be a colorful, low-maintenance garden filled with wildflowers, bulbs and perennials.
In the third season, my partner built a stone frame around the wildflowers in one of the hellstrips to let people know they should walk around the seedlings.
Even before I had heard of the term “hellstrip gardening,” I was practicing it at my city home out of sheer necessity. Nestled on the corner of a heavily foot-trafficked street, my two hellstrips were large, full of weeds, and unsightly. It become a daunting task to weed-whack every week and even when it was manicured, I wasn’t happy with how it looked. Because I was working at American Meadows, my first thought went to — of course — wildflowers. My partner and I rototilled the two hellstrips in early spring and spread our Northeast Wildflower Mixture. I picked this mix because I knew it would burst with blooms that season, offering up easy color through the fall, and it would come back year after year.
Hellstrip Gardening: Go With The Flow
Although at the time I thought this would be a “one and done” type of planting, of course this wasn’t the case. Come to think of it, this is never the case in gardening. It turned out that winter, the city plows pushed dirty snow on to my hellstrip gardens full of salt and who knows what else. This made it hard for my wildflowers to survive the winter. But, like every gardener who faces a challenge, I took it as an opportunity to give more to the space the next season. My partner happily (so he said) rototilled the areas again and this time I planted our All Annual Mixture, knowing I’d have to re-seed the next year.