Plan to stop neighbourly disputes about nature strip gardens in Wollongong - Illawarra Greens

Plan to stop neighbourly disputes about nature strip gardens in Wollongong

The nature strip in front of your home is often seen as an annoyance that has to be regularly mowed. But one Wollongong councillor wants to see those patches of lawn transformed into beautiful gardens across the city.

Read the article by Ashleigh Tullis in The Illawarra Mercury, 23 May 2019

Plan to stop neighbourly disputes about nature strip gardens in Wollongong

A Wollongong councillor wants council to develop a policy for nature strip gardens so residents know what can and can not be planted. Picture: File image
A Wollongong councillor wants council to develop a policy for nature strip gardens so residents know what can and can not be planted. Picture: File image

But one Wollongong councillor wants to see those patches of lawn transformed into beautiful gardens across the city.

She wants residents to understand which types of trees, herbs, mulch and raised gardens are permissible so people ensure their verge gardens do not put pedestrians or drivers at risk.

"The guidelines would make sure council has a clear and consistent policy on verge gardens," Cr Blakey said. "Council currently does not have an explicit policy.

"Issues arise when people want to plant on the nature strip but their design needs to consider pedestrian safety, postal service access and powerlines ... as well as line of sight for drivers.

"We don't want residents to be at war with each other so we need to tell them what is and is not allowed."

Some councils across the country have clear guideline on what can and can not be planted in the nature strip. Picture: File image

Some councils across the country have clear guideline on what can and can not be planted in the nature strip. Picture: File image

Cr Blakey cited a neighbourly dispute over a verge garden, reported in the Mercury in April, where a Woonona woman was threatened with a $330 council fine for obstructing the public road reserve when she covered her front yard grass with mulch.

Four neighbours complained.

Cr Blakey said the Woonona incident had been resolved without a penalty and the neighbours and homeowners had reached a compromise. However, she believes the dispute could have been avoided if there had been a clear council policy.

The Greens councillor said council staff were developing the guidelines which would stipulate how wide pedestrian access needed to be and what species of plants were allowed.

She hoped her notice of motion at Monday's council meeting would help fast track the adoption of the policy.

"Nature strip gardens are beautiful," Cr Blakey said. "I would love to see more trees and gardens around the suburbs."

She said any nature strip garden needed to be considerate of neighbours and if a garden did not comply with the guidelines then council staff should work with residents to address their concerns.

Cr Blakey said the policy would also help the council achieve its adopted Urban Greening Strategy outcomes.

Council has a vision for Wollongong of a clean, green city that protects and supports the environment by sustainably managing and caring for the natural environment and resources.