The Shady Lanes Project extends verge gardening from the realm of gardening enthusiasts to make verge gardens like this “the new normal”, cooling our cities and suburbs, creating walkable streets, building community.
How it could be
Shaded streets reduce the urban heat island effect (and air-con bills)
Streets lined with shade trees with an understory of native shrubs and flowers provide habitat and pollinator corridors. The trees in the gardens thrive without having to compete with grass and whipper-snippers. Streets are cooler for pedestrians and cyclists, so encourage active transport and reduce car use.
Walkable streets have physical and mental health benefits.
Paths with trees and nature strips make streets walkable – cooler and more interesting. Connecting with nature, and their neighbours, as they go about their lives is beneficial to the mental health of both adults and children. Children walk or cycle to school with associated benefits to health and independence.
Local, meaningful jobs.
As well as individual gardens created by volunteer residents, creation of verge gardens can be done by local social enterprises, local micro-businesses, or local organisations. Creating jobs close to where people live means there is no lengthy commuting and extra traffic on the roads. Hours are flexible. Workers become an integral part of the community.
Community pride and participation.
Whole street projects involve residents and the local community working together. Residents are included in the choice of understory and provide ongoing maintenance. Indigenous leaders and workers are encouraged to be involved and share their knowledge.
A Network of Projects
Each local project can connect with others as part of the Shady Lanes Project while maintaining their own independence. This allows sharing of information, experience, data, and resources, without losing the ability to adapt to local situations.
What Are We Waiting For?
Many councils have already got the policies in place to allow ratepayers and residents to convert their verges. A few councils are proactively encouraging residents to adopt verges and transform them to help cool our cities.
All that has to change is the way we think about it.
Individual verge gardens + funded verge gardens + sponsored verge gardens = maximum coverage in the shortest time