The City of Gosnells is a Waterwise Council and, as such, encourages residents to save water. One way to do this is to create a Waterwise verge garden. These guidelines outline how to establish a healthy Waterwise verge garden while complying with the City's verge rules.
What is a verge?
The verge is the piece of land between the road’s edge and your property boundary. This area may include a footpath, street tree, and street lights. The verge is crown land, which means it is under the care, control and management of the City. This is because it can contain important underground services and drainage infrastructure.
Permitted verge treatments, such as a garden, are the responsibility of the owner/occupiers.
Property owners/occupiers will be notified if services in the verge need to be accessed, unless it is an emergency. They may need to dig up your garden to do this. The City may backfill the area with sand but is not liable to replace or restore verge gardens.
The City is responsible for planting, pruning and removal of approved street trees.
What are the benefits?
A Waterwise local native verge garden has many benefits to the community and our environment including:
• Filtration of the air
• Reduction of the Urban Heat Island Effect
• Reduction in water use compared to lawn
• Assists with storm water infiltration
• Provides habitat for wildlife
• Creates a sense of community pride
• Focal point for neighbourly conversation
• Nicer visual amenity.
Permitted Verge Treatments
The City has rules about what is and is not allowed on your verge in order to keep the public safe. Most of these rules are in place to ensure a clear line of sight for motorists and safe pedestrian access. A low growing local native garden is permitted under these guidelines.
Plants - maintained to 600mm
Lawn - maintained to 100mm
Artificial or synthetic lawn
Plants that are thorny, poisonous or hazardous
Any impervious materials such as bitumen, concrete or road base. Water must be able to flow through any treatment
Mowing strips (brick paved edging or kerbing), where they are not flush with the ground level
Any obstructions, other than a temporary enclosure
Rocks, crushed brick, or similar loose materials that can be a tripping hazard
Please refer to the Permissible Verge Treatments Information Sheet for further information.
A verge guideline booklet is due to be published by end then of 2023 to provide more information to residents.
Things to consider
Structures and objects that can pose a hazard to people are not allowed on the verge. This includes
• Star pickets, bollards, and rocks
• Raised garden beds, edging and barriers
• Loose rocks or crushed brick
• Hazardous, thorny and/or poisonous plants.
Bush Fire Prone Areas
The FESA ‘Plant Guide within the Building Protection Zone, for the Swan Coastal Plain of Western Australia’ is an excellent guide to gardening in bushfire prone areas.
Where there is no foot path, an area of 2m wide from the kerb needs to be safe to access by pedestrians.
There must be clear visibility for persons using the thoroughfares at all times. This means all plants must be less than 600mm tall. If you live within 6m of an intersection, the maximum plant height is reduced to 100mm tall.
Creating your Verge Garden
The best time to plant your verge is late Autumn/early Winter. This way winter rains will help your garden to establish and you won’t need to use as much scheme water.
Step 1: Remove lawn or weeds
Your existing lawn or weeds will need to be removed, including roots and runners. This can be done carefully with a shovel or by smothering with a thick covering of newspaper or cardboard and mulch. Use caution when removing lawn around existing street trees. Feeder roots of some trees extend just 30cm below the soil and damaging these roots may harm or kill the tree. Aim to only dig as deep as required to remove the lawn.
Step 2: Soil and Conditioners
Soil is the foundation to a great garden; it supports and holds nutrients for your new plants.
There are three soil types found in the City of Gosnells; central and eastern coastal plain and scarp soils.
Central coastal plain consist of sand based soils. While the eastern and scarp soils are a mixture of sand, loam and clay based soils. You can test your soil yourself by taking a sample and wetting it. If it clumps together, it is clay based. If it is hydrophobic and repels water, it is sand based.
Your garden will use less water and is more likely to thrive if the water holding capacity of sandy soils is improved prior to planting. This can be done by adding bentonite clay or soil improver and soil wetting agent if the soil is water repellent. The Water Corporation website provides this handy guide on soil conditioning.
We recommend limiting the use of fertilisers and herbicides in all gardens. In areas near the Canning River or other open water sources, you should avoid using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers. These fertilisers leach into and pollute ground water and surrounding waterways.
Step 3: Plant Choice
We recommend you choose a mix of local native ground cover and shrubs with a mix of colour to create a beautiful waterwise verge garden. Local native plants are hardy, low maintenance, and suitable for our soil types.
When choosing plants you must keep in mind:
• Your soil type
• The amount of sun\shade
• Plant heights
• Proximity to kerb and paths.
To gain the most benefits for your local wildlife you would choose local native plants that come from as close to your home as possible and from the same soil type.
The City has two brochures on local native species one for the heavier soil in the eastern parts of the City and one for the sandy soils in the western parts of the City.
Please note that these brochures are aimed at home gardeners in general and some species may be too tall for your verge.
Step 4: Mulch
Mulch is a key part of a waterwise verge garden. All gardens should be covered in a layer of coarse mulch 5-10cms thick (keep mulch clear of stems). Choose a chunky coarse mulch, which is better for water saving over soft, fine mulches. Mulch is essential for a waterwise garden and can reduce watering by 60%. The benefits of mulch are:
• Prevents evaporation of surface moisture.
• Prevents spread and suppresses weeds.
• Insulates and regulates soil temperature.
• Adds nutrients and changes structure of soil.
What support can the City provide?
Residents are able to request the planting of a tree for the verge adjoining their property. The species of tree will be in accordance with the City’s Approved Tree List and will be planted, by the City, during the winter season. Any tree enquiries should be referred to Tree Services. Phone 9397 3000.
Local Native Seedlings
Plants native to the area are best suited to our local conditions and have a better chance of survival. For advice on what to plant, please contact the Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group or view these brochures to select your plants.
For more information on establishing a waterwise verge garden see the Water Corporation’s fact sheet “How to create a Waterwise verge – Guidance for Householders”.