Planting Along Roadsides – Tips For Growing Plants Near Roads
By: Amy Grant
Landscaping along roads is a way to blend the concrete roadway into the surroundings as well as a way to manage environmental qualities of the road. Growing plants near roads slows, absorbs, and cleans water runoff. Thus, plants along roadsides reduce soil erosion, control flooding, and result in cleaner water supplies. Plants for roadside landscaping also act as snow fences, keeping the snow from drifting into traffic.
Successful roadside landscaping is better achieved by adhering to some of the following roadside planting tips.
About Landscaping Along Roads
As you travel across the highways of the United States, thereis plenty to note and admire regarding roadside plants. Landscaping next toroads is done primarily when nearing a city or town while the remainder of theplants along roadsides are nativeplants of the region.
Planting with natives is an excellent idea when selectingplants for roadside landscaping. While native plants may be ornamental, theyare not chosen as roadside plants for their beauty but rather for their ease ofmaintenance, adaptability, and hardiness.
Growing native perennial plants near roads gives them abetter chance at surviving often punishing conditions that growing near aroadway may offer. Native plants also have the benefit of hosting habitats fornative animals and insects.
Tips for Growing Plants Near Roadsides
Perhaps you’re looking to createan attractive mailbox garden or wish to add more curb appeal near theroadside portion of your landscape. Several conditions need to be consideredwhen growing plants near roads.
First off, the site will generally be inhospitable. Sincethe soil near the road has been disturbed during construction, it may becompacted with very little topsoil.Wind is often an issue due to the topography of the road and a lack ofvegetation.
Plants will be exposed to vehicle emissions as well as saltspray during winter. Sites along a roadway may or may not be irrigated, sochoosing plants that are droughthardy is a must.
Often, landscaping along roads is made up of trees andshrubs rather than grass or herbaceous ornamental plantings. This is becausetrees and shrubs will generally be a long-term investment with lowermaintenance costs.
Soil may need to be addressed by loosening and restoring thetopsoil. If you’re not interested in doing this project yourself, choose a landscapedesigner that not only knows what plants will thrive in the region but alsohow roadside planting conditions may affect certain species.
Decide on the type of planting you wish to implement. Willit include irrigation? What about maintenance? Is there a budget formaintenance and, if so, how much? Will pruning or fertilization need to beimplemented? What about weed control? Consider the cost and benefits of layingdown a weedbarrier. Is there any reason to be concerned about drainage?
There are many things to consider when creating a roadsidelandscape. Research and seek out the assistance of a landscape professional whospecializes in this type of landscaping and/or contact your state’stransportation department as well as the localextension office for assistance.
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5 Great Ideas For Landscaping On A Busy Street
Living on a busy street has plenty of advantages, such as close proximity to great restaurants and shops. Living on a busy street is convenient and fun one of the only issues is the noise. In fact, one of the greatest concerns regarding living on a busy street is how to block out road noise with landscaping elements.
Noise really impacts the human mind. It is one of the few things we can never actually drown out. Constant noise pollution has many negative impacts on you, ranging to include hearing loss from excessively loud sounds, to insomnia and anxiety. According to architectural designers, the following 5 ideas for landscaping on a busy street will make your property stand out in a good way and also help block out some of the road noise.
1. Install The Right Kind Of Fencing
All fencing is going to help reduce some road noise, but not all options are going to reduce noise equally. A plank fence, for instance, is not substantial enough to completely block out sound waves, as the sound can still escape through the slits in the planks. You need a fencing material that is so solid it actually blocks sound waves from traveling through. The density of a wall impacts how much sound it blocks, hence why solid building materials such as brick, stone, and stucco make for great options on busy roads.
Make sure your fence reaches down to the ground, otherwise you are going to hear the full force of car tires as they pass by all day, and maybe even all night. A fence that is too low is going to allow other noises direct access. The fence should be as tall as the source of the noise to help avoid hearing it. If you have a high balcony or deck attached to your home, even a fence measuring 8 to 10 feet is not going to substantially block out the noise.
Material is just as important as the actual construction. The fence should be built with attention to detail to prevent the formation of any holes or weak points where sound can slip right through.
The best suggestion is to build as tall of a fence as local regulations permit. In many locations, especially on a busy street, super tall fences are not allowed. If this is the case for your property, know that even a fence measuring 2 ½-foot-high is going to block out more noise than no fence. Also, any size fence helps make your home feel separated from the busy street. (Read here)
2. Add A Water Feature
You can’t make the noise of a busy street go away completely but you can help drown it out with a much more peaceful noise than speeding cars. A water feature provides a soothing, tranquil sound that is continuous and at the same frequency rate as the less desirable noises coming from the street.
Place the water feature as close to your home or patio as possible, the closer it is in proximity the more it will drown out the road noises. Since all of the sounds are going at the same frequency you will hear the sound closest to you, which is the water fountain.
Water features can’t block out a honking horn or other abnormally loud sounds, but for everyday peace of mind water features offer superior distraction. Plus, water elements look great in any yard, adding to the overall landscape design.
3. Plant Tall, Lush Trees
Trees make every landscape look better, and they also offer a lot of privacy if you live on a busy street. Although it is assumed that trees help reduce sound, they actually do little to nothing to absorb any noise. Psychologically though, the old-age saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really does exist. When we can’t see the source of the road noise it is easier to ignore it and forget it’s there. Trees also help absorb pollutants released by passing vehicles, improving your air quality.
A solid, tall wall is going to block out the noise much better than trees, but trees provide the perfect way to soften the look of a large masonry wall. Planting trees in front or behind the fence provides added privacy, beauty, and helps better separate your property from a busy street.
You don’t have to completely wall yourself away, and you don’t have to use trees either. Any rich foliage will act as a great barrier between your home and the street.
4. Keep Vegetable And Fruit Gardens As Far From The Street As Possible
If you plan to add edible elements to your landscaping you should find a place to do so as far away from the street as possible. Auto emissions release high levels of lead, which isn’t good for an edible garden. Keep ornamental plants near the road, and leave the spaces farthest from the street for edible foliage. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but you should also keep your edible garden at least at least 3 feet from the outskirts of your home and porch. The surrounding soil of a building foundation contains the highest levels of lead compared to other parts of the yard.
5. Attract Birds With The Right Plants
Grow trees and shrubs that attract birds and you can help remove some of the street noise in exchange for the sound of beautiful birds. The neighborhood birds will also appreciate your efforts after all it’s not easy to find good sources of seeds and pollen when you are a bird living in a big city or crowded suburb.
TerraCast Products offers the perfect landscaping features for busy streets. Our specially formulated resin landscaping products resist rust, corrosion, graffiti and more.
To Terrace or Not
Terracing, another erosion solution combined with retaining walls, entails cutting into the hill to make flat beds. A Sonoma County Master Gardener built an interconnecting series of raised planting beds and decks on her terraced hillside property to provide areas to sit and enjoy the vista. For a less steep site, hardy native plantings with root systems substantial enough to anchor the soil may be set. Many shrubs are excellent at holding the soil, and they also lend color and texture to the design, without requiring mowing. Artemisia, juniper, manzanita (Arctostaphylos) and California wild lilac (Ceanothus) will all thrive on a slope.
8 Perfect Plants for Sidewalk Landscaping Ideas
One of the most inhospitable areas of your yard is also the most visible: the sidewalk strip. This droughty, compacted, trampled spot offers a harsh environment — but with the right plants, you can upgrade this wasteland to a pretty paradise. Choose low-maintenance, water-wise plants, and the botanical transformation will save you time (less mowing) and money (less watering required), as well as improve your home's curb appeal.
For flowers, feed at time of planting and then repeat every 4 months during the growing season.
For roses, initial feeding in the spring prior to bud break, just after bud break or at time of planting.
For roses, second feeding, 4 months after the initial feeding. Cease feeding 2 months before the first expected frost to allow canes to harden-off and prepare for winter.
New roses, established roses, container roses and flowers.
New Roses: sprinkle 1/2 cup fertilizer on the soil surface around the base of the rose bush.
Established Roses: sprinkle evenly 1/2 cup fertilizer on the soil surface around the base of the rose bush.
Container Roses: Sprinkle evenly recommended amount of fertilizer around the base of the rose bush. (1 gallon container= 1 teaspoon. 3 gallon container= 1 tablespoon. 5 gallon container= 2 tablespoons, 1/8 cup).
Flowers: sprinkle 3/4 cup fertilizer evenly over a 5 foot x 5 foot area. May be worked into top 1/4-inch of soil if desired
To treat an existing disease. To prevent and protect against future diseases.
Roses, flowers, azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, landscape trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines & houseplants.
Add 3/4 fluid ounces (1+1/2 tablespoons) to 1 gallon of water.
To learn which plants withstand the challenging conditions of the sidewalk strip, keep reading.
Attributes of Successful Sidewalk Strip Plants
Stocking a sidewalk strip planting area requires focusing on carefree plants with a tough constitution. These plants should boast rugged good looks, along with the following traits:
- Short stature (under 36 inches)
- Low-maintenance (little pruning required)
- Not picky about soil
- Robust and able to stake their claim in the harsh setting
- Perennial (not needing frequent replacement)
Get started on your sidewalk garden by considering a few of these never-say-die plants.
Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii)
This deer-resistant perennial presents strong three-season interest with blue spring blooms, fine-textured summer foliage, and stunning gold fall color. USDA Zones 4-10.
Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
Growing tip: After flowering, cut stems back to 6-8 inches to spur well-branched, fuller plants.
Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina var. glauca "Elijah Blue")
This compact ornamental grass forms neat clumps of blue-green foliage. Wheat-colored seedpods appear in summer. USDA Zones: 5-11.
Size: 6-18 inches tall by 6-9 inches wide
Growing tip: This charmer pairs well with purple bloomers and silver foliage. Space tightly to use as a ground cover.
Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Lavender-blue blossom spikes unfurl in late spring to early summer atop bluish-green foliage. Dark seedpods add winter interest. USDA Zones 3-10.
Size: 3-4 feet tall and wide
Growing tip: Plants emerge late in spring. Mark the spot so you don't disturb the crown.
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote")
Deep-purple flower wands top silvery gray foliage. Plants are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Both blooms and foliage boast the favored lavender scent. USDA Zones 5-11.
Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
Growing tip: Use gravel for mulch, especially in regions with humid summers. Lavender prefers a lean, low-fertility soil.
New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax)
This New Zealand native features eye-catching linear leaves edged or striped in a variety of hues, including pink, purple, red or orange. Look for varieties with bronze or burgundy-purple leaves. USDA Zones 9-11 roots survive in USDA Zones 7-8 in protected locations.
Size: 1-6 feet tall by 1-3 feet wide. Look for dwarf types in regions where plants are hardy.
Growing tip: Different varieties offer varying degrees of winter hardiness. Check with local garden centers to discover what options will survive winter in your region.
Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
This native grass forms arching mounds of emerald foliage that burnish gold as autumn ends. Flowers smell like caramel seedpods open and drop seeds (hence the name). USDA Zones 3-10.
Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
Growing tip: This grass slowly naturalizes and forms spreading clumps but doesn't self-seed. Birds gobble the seeds, especially juncos and sparrows.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Pink petals surround bristly cone centers. Plants self-seed and spread to form a pleasant clump. Look for new varieties with different flower hues, including orange, gold and raspberry. USDA Zones 3-11.
Size: 24-36 inches tall by 18-24 inches wide
Growing tip: In late summer, stop removing spent blooms and allow seed heads to ripen. The seeds attract goldfinches and pine siskins.
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Purple blooms float among scented, fernlike, silver leaves from midsummer to fall. The effect in the garden is airy. Plant with purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan for a pleasing combination. USDA Zones 5-11.
Size: 36-60 inches tall by 24-48 inches wide
Growing tip: Clip stems by two-thirds in early spring to encourage well-branched plants.