9 Gorgeous Sidewalk Garden Designs

It’s easy to forget about planting areas that fall outside of what we typically think of as a front yard. However, planting the skinny street-side area beyond the perimeter fence, or the parking strip next to the sidewalk, can both boost your home’s curb appeal and act as a gift to the neighborhood.

If you’re searching for inspiration for sidewalk plantings, take a look at these nine gorgeous gardens that extend all the way to the street, welcoming visitors and greeting neighbors with colorful plantings and seasonal blooms.
1. A Lush Look With Pavers in Oregon

Surrounding pavers with low-growing ground covers and other plants makes a parking strip feel much more like a garden while providing a practical solution for getting from a parked car to the house.

In this Oregon yard, the landscape architects at Stangeland and Associates used creeping thyme between the pavers, along with tufts of grasslike variegated Japanese sedge and mounds of white-flowering sweet alyssum to soften the bed.

Plants in this garden bed include:
  • Variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’, or similar, USDA zones 5 to 9); find your zone
  • Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima, grown as an annual)
  • Mix of creeping thyme varieties (Thymus pseudolanuginosus and T. serpyllum, zones 4 to 8)
Water requirement: Low to moderate
Light requirement: Full sun

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2. Blurred Garden Boundaries in California

For homes with shallow front yards, the parking strip can become an extension of the garden and visually expand your front yard.

Take a cue from landscape architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith, who pulled the same palette of gray-green, gold and yellow plants from the front of this garden in San Luis Obispo, California, down to the parking strip. Plants include drought-tolerant ornamental grasses and perennials, such as yellow yarrow, English lavender and creeping rosemary.

In your own yard, visually tie together a parking strip and front garden by using the same plants in both beds.
Plants in this garden bed include:
  • Nichol’s willow-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus nicholii, zones 8 to 10)
  • New Zealand wind grass (Anemanthele lessoniana, zones 8 to 10)
  • Autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis, zones 5 to 8)
  • Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’, zones 5 to 9)
  • ‘Moonshine’ common yarrow (Achillea millefolium ‘Moonshine’, zones 3 to 9)
  • ‘Boule’ rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Boule’, zones 8 to 10)
Water requirement: Low to moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
3. Banks of Blooms in Boston

While technically a bed bordering a Boston driveway rather than the street, this three-tiered combination by landscape architect Sean Papich featuring perennial purple coneflowers, tawny ornamental grasses and low-growing tufts of day lily foliage would also work as a sidewalk combination. The purple coneflowers are particularly long-blooming and, in combination with the tall ornamental grasses, will carry the garden through fall.

Plants in this garden bed include:
  • ‘Magnus’ purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, zones 3 to 8)
  • ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, zones 4 to 9)
  • ‘Stella de Oro’ day lily (Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’, zones 4 to 9), after blooming
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun

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4. Pocket-Size Meadow in Colorado

A parking strip by Lauren Springer at the Gardens on Spring Creek, in Fort Collins, Colorado, looks like a watercolor painting with swaths of lemon-yellow and lavender-purple blooms.

Choosing a mix of bloom forms — such as the flat tops of yarrow, the flower spikes from a blooming yucca and the round globe thistles — offers more visual interest than planting a single flower form, and it contributes to a meadow-like look.

Plants in this garden bed include:
  • ‘Anthea’ yarrow (Achillea ‘Anthea’, zones 3 to 9)
  • Blue allium (Allium caeruleum, zones 4 to 8)
  • Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa, zones 5 to 10)
  • ‘Munstead’ English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’, zones 5 to 9)
  • ‘Shades of Mango’ pineleaf penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius ‘Shades of Mango’, zones 4 to 9)
Water requirement: Low to moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
5. Dynamic and Drought-Tolerant in Los Angeles

A combination of low-water plants with contrasting foliage colors creates a bold bed in a Los Angeles parking strip. Bronze phormium foliage plays off the silvery dwarf olive leaves and the fleshy blue chalk sticks succulents.

One of the biggest advantages of relying on foliage plants for interest is that they take far less effort to maintain in a parking strip, or anywhere else, than seasonal flowers. And in a mild Southern California climate, they look good year-round.
Plants in this garden bed include:
  • ‘Jack Spratt’ New Zealand flax (Phormium ‘Jack Spratt’, zones 8 to 11)
  • Perez’s sea lavender (Limonium perezii, zones 8 to 10)
  • ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, zones 6 to 9)
  • Blue fescue (Festuca glauca, zones 4 to 8)
  • Breeze mat rush (Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’, Zone 8)
  • Blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae, zones 9 to 12)
  • Silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae, zones 4 to 9)
Water requirement: Low to moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
Contemporary  Contemporary Landscape
6. Bee and Butterfly Magnet in Seattle

Proving that you really don’t need much space to create a beautiful garden that supports pollinators, this Seattle parking strip bed is loaded with bee-, butterfly- and hummingbird-friendly plants, such as lavender, yellow coreopsis, purple coneflowers and coral-colored hyssop.

Plants in this garden bed include:
  • Hyssop (Agastache sp.)
  • ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’, zones 4 to 9)
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, zones 3 to 9)
  • Lavender (Lavandula sp.)
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun

6 Steps to Creating Your Butterfly Garden
7. Cottage-Style in Upstate New York

Bursting with blooms, this romantic perennial garden in Buffalo, New York, overflows onto both sides of the sidewalk, enveloping a passerby with summer flowers. If you embrace a “more is more” attitude toward gardening, re-create this look with a mix of colorful spring- and summer-blooming perennials, and optimize for plant height to create lush layers of flowers.

Plants in this garden bed include:
  • Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia, zones 5 to 9)
  • Day lily (Hemerocallis sp.)
  • Coneflower (Echinacea sp.)
  • Petunia (Petunia sp.)
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
8. Low-Water Desert Drama in Phoenix

A simple combination of structural plants — common sotol, also called desert spoon, on the left and Santa Rita prickly pear on the right — against a colorful accent wall hits it just right for this Phoenix street-side garden.

Cactuses seem to be a magnet for bits of trash and fallen leaves, which can easily blow down a street and into the garden. Pick them out with skinny tongs or — yes, I know this sounds crazy, but it works like a charm — a shop vacuum set on low.

Plants in this garden bed include:
Water requirement: Low
Light requirement: Full sun
9. Citruses and Perennials in the San Francisco Bay Area

This Berkeley, California, street-side planting by Ian Moore features citrus trees, billowing perennials and strappy New Zealand flax , offering far more to neighbors than just the blank face of a fence running along the sidewalk. The latticed wood fence provides some privacy but feels friendly and inviting, allowing colorful flowers to peek through or someone in the front yard to chat with a neighbor.
Plants in this garden bed include:
  • Meyer lemon tree (Citrus x meyeri ‘Improved’, Zone 8)
  • Green lavender cotton (Santolina rosmarinifolia, zones 6 to 11)
  • English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, zones 5 to 9)
  • ‘Tony Tiger’ New Zealand flax (Phormium ‘Tony Tiger’, zones 8 to 11)
  • Barberry (Berberis sp.)
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
Before Getting Started

Check city codes.
Municipalities and neighborhood associations often regulate what you can and cannot plant in parking strips in your area. Some require permits for adding new trees to parking strips, for example, or require trees to be set back a certain number of feet from the street. Check what’s allowed before investing in a new project.
Pick tough plants. Street-side planting spots are not the areas to put fussy plants that need some coaxing to grow. Plants need to be tough to stand up to heat reflected from the sidewalk, stray foot falls and dogs marking their territory. Choose plants at the nursery that thrive in your climate and sun exposure, and then double-check with a well-versed nursery employee to make sure the plants are tough and vigorous.

Prep the planting site. Plants growing in a street-side garden or parking strip will do much better if you put some extra love into the soil prep before planting. Amend soil well since beds along the sidewalk are often compacted and nutrient-poor. Putting parking strip island beds on irrigation can be tricky. Choose drought-tolerant plants, commit to watering by hand or run a drip line (if possible) from your hose hookup.

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Source:Lauren Dunec Hoang/Houzz Contributor/June 10, 2019

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