Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Parkways in the Block

Today, on my evening walk around the block, I took some pictures of some of the parkways on my block.

Parkways are the strips of land in front of our residences, located between the curb and the sidewalk.  They maybe called by another name in other areas.  The City owns the land and plant street trees on them, but the homeowners are responsible for maintaining them.  The homeowners are also liable for any accidents or mishaps anyone might have while walking on the parkway to access their vehicles, etc., especially if non-permitted materials have been used!

Our city has a document called "Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines" and I downloaded a copy from the city's website, today.  According to the Guidelines, one is supposed to get a permit before doing any landscaping, unless one qualifies for an exemption as a homeowner planting  drought resistant turf or drought resistant turf substitutes (and there is a list of which plants qualify) or edible plants!  That last item was added after a law suit was filed and the city permitted the planting of edible landscaping in the parkway.  Landscaping with non-living material such as paving stones, pebbles, bark mulch, etc., require a permit.  Permit fees vary, starting at $450 for very basic landscaping and going up to $2,000 for more complicated work, depending on what is involved.

Traditionally, parkways are supposed to be planted with grass, with or without a city planted street tree.  On my block, only one neighbor has maintained the grass with regular watering:

Green, Grassy Parkway
Many others used to have grass, but have allowed the grass to die:

Parkway with Dead Grass
Some have paved over with bricks or paving stones:

Paved Parkway

Others have cemented over theirs:

Cemented Over Parkway

At least one has grown a hedge of succulents:

Succulents in Parkway
(According to the Parkway Landscaping Guidelines, plants can't be over a certain height (36") and there needs to be a minimum of 18" between the curb and the plants for ease of exiting and entering parked vehicles.)

At least one neighbor recently landscaped her parkway:

Landscaped Parkway
I meant to take a close up, but didn't, for some reason or another.  I love how it looks, though.  A lot of the parkways in the block look like the parkway in the foreground of this picture!

In the next block, there is one parkway that has artificial turf!  It did look nice and green, especially from a distance!  Another has cemented over the parkway with an inlaid design of a flower pot and three flowers set in bricks!  People are creative!

According to an article I read on-line, though, the City is bemoaning the resulting "patchwork" of parkways that have sprung up due to the drought and incentives to replace grass with drought tolerant landscaping.  The original idea was to provide long vistas of green belts along suburban streets, suggestive of parkland and country estates.

I also did an on-line search for pictures of parkway landscaping and found much which I liked.  I will spend a little more time contemplating what I want to do.  In the meantime, I'll find another spot in the garden for the uprooted succulents.

Do you have a parkway in front of your residence?  If so, what do you have growing there?


  1. I guessed that parkways were something like you described. I've never had a parkway in front of my house, so no immediate suggestions come to mind. Thanks for the look around your neighborhood. I found it interesting.

    1. You are welcome, Live and Learn. It's a fairly typical suburban neighborhood, I think. Nothing fancy (I couldn't have afforded a house in a more expensive neighborhood). When I first moved in, almost nobody had walls or fences around their garden. Since then, several have put up walls and fences.

  2. I admit we just have grass growing there. There aren't a lot of them in our neighbourhood just by houses that have the pavement (sidewalk) on them and there isn't pavement everywhere. We don't park on the street as we have a driveway. Parking on street isn't allowed in winter as snow plough needs to be able to get through. To be honest I hadn't thought of doing too much with it.

    1. Ideally, they are supposed to look like an extension of the front lawn, with grass growing in them. There are fewer parkways and sidewalks in some of the adjoining blocks. As for the street parking, it seems like just about every household has several cars and people park in the driveways and the street, as well. One neighbor and I are about the only people who actually use our garages to park our cars!

  3. Very interesting to see the various parkways in your neighborhood. A couple of streets over there are parkways and they all seem to be grass, some much better kept than others.

    I wonder how strict the city is with enforcing the rules? I can certainly understand with the drought and the expense of water why people let them go. Those permit fees are high and would not encourage people to apply. I hadn't thought of artificial turf but it would fit the bill and easy maintenance.

    Oh pleased that your daughter got safely home.


    1. Sandy, I really don't think the city is very strict with enforcing the landscaping rules. From what I understand, it is more of a complaint-driven process - if neighbors complain enough, then, they'll come out to check. Otherwise, they sort of look the other way. :)

      The artificial turf will work, provided people who walk their dogs will be considerate and pick up after their dogs!

  4. I'm a bit stunned (if I've understood you correctly), that you're expected to look after the parkway but have to pay for a permit to do so?

    I don't think we have anything like that over here. Our boundaries and responsibilities tend to stop at the end of our garden and then whether it's a pavement or grass verge it becomes the responsibility of the Council to maintain. They're pretty good at cutting grass were we live but pavement upkeep is another matter and don't even get me started on the roads which are full of potholes! xx

    1. Suzanne, one has to pay for a permit only if one wants to landscape it with material other than what is specified in the guidelines, which are drought resistant grass and substitutes (there's a list of acceptable plants).

      They are pretty good about resurfacing the streets in my neighborhood, but there are many roads with potholes all over the city!

  5. Around here there are no parkways in small residential streets, but there are some along wider streets and they are public property, taken care of by the city gardeners.

    Im recent years the city gardners have begun growing wildflowers on them between the trees and they have become a refuge for insects. They get mowed only a few times a year. Often the plants are about 2 ft high. One parkway near my home has big rose bush with lots of red blossoms for several months a year.


    1. There are median strips here, which are like parkways in the middle of big streets, dividing the lanes going in opposite directions, which are maintained by the city. But the parkways in the residential areas are maintained by the residents.

      I like the idea of growing wildflowers along the parkways and medians. I've a soft spot for wild flowers and plants. They support a whole ecosystem of insects and small birds, etc.

  6. Thanks for sharing the pictures, Bless! In our area, they are called easements and are filled only with grass - as you mentioned, an extension of the lawn - and the homeowner maintains it. We live in the country now and no longer have one, but as I recall when we did live in the city, the grassy area served as easy access for city public works crews when they needed to dig to reach utilities located beneath the sidewalk. Loved seeing all the interesting ways your neighbors personalize their spaces.

    1. You are welcome, Carolyn. I am going to take a little time to decide what is best, but I think I'll plant more succulents and see what happens.


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