Our hellstrip design

Anenome  ©Janet Allen
Canada anemone

What is a hellstrip? The no-man's-land area between the sidewalk and the road, technically belonging to our town, though we, as the homeowners, are responsible for its upkeep.

We initially dug up some of the lawn so we could plant a few plants that we like, but which might be too much of a thug to tolerate in a bed with other plants. In this case, it's Canada anemone—beautiful, but aggressive.

It works well for this purpose.

Second garden in the strip  ©Janet Allen
The first fall of our second garden

When the power company dug up some of our hellstrip to replace their underground pipes, we saw an opportunity. Before they could reseed, we dug it up (the soil wasn't the best) and planted some plants that are pretty robust: sedum and spiderwort.

The sedum aren't native, but they're benign and great for pollinators. Equally important is that they don't seem to be affected by road salt. We use a lot of road salt here in snowy Central New York.

Both sections  ©Janet Allen
Both sections

Some of the design principles we're using for our hellstrip are:

  • Choose plants that are salt-tolerant!
  • Choose plants that are fairly low-growing and fairly uniform height
  • Choose a mix of plants
  • Keep a neat, curved edge on each section.
  • Leave some strips of lawn as paths from the road to the sidewalk so people don't have to travel a great distance if they park on the street and want to get to the sidewalk.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to grow some things that might be too thuggish if grown with other plants.