Home FAQ Why do we have to obey council’s restrictive policy?

Why do we have to obey council’s restrictive policy?

The Shady Lanes Project aims for collaborations and an essential part of that is working with Councils and staying within their guidelines. When you’ve built positive relationships then you can work with them to ease restrictions.

The main cause of conflict is a mismatch in viewpoint.

Gardener’s viewpoint

Some gardeners see the verge as an extension of their internal garden. Others only think of it in terms of what you see when you drive past or stand opposite and look at it. We certainly see that one garden as the focus, if not the only garden of relevance. (This focus can be a positive – see Council versus Resident-planted Verge Gardens)

It is when several gardeners get together using verge gardens as part of a bigger vision like urban food growing or pollinator strips that major disputes tend to arise. While the aims are worthy, they tend to focus on one role of this land to the exclusion of others. See Can Councils and Residents Collaborate to Create Green Streets?

Council’s viewpoint

Councils have to look at it from many aspects and within legislative frameworks – as a public place, as a pedestrian thoroughfare and part of the transport network, as the site for street trees to increase tree canopy, as the place for services and trades – all with many standards for safety and equity.

Your garden to the Council is just one of many and their broad guidelines are attempts for standard rules covering many different verges.

Council also have to deal with any complaints from neighbours who take exception to your garden and deal with the worst-case gardeners (not you or me, of course) who plant silly things like invasive species and spiky plants or who don’t maintain it.

Within Councils there might also be several departments affected – not all of whom support the idea. The arborists might worry about people harming the street trees; others will worry about mulch blocking the waterways or invasive plants spreading into bushland, and so on.

Is it any wonder that for so long, Councils have taken the easiest option of banning planting anything but grass?

So our job as residents and gardeners is to build positive experiences for neighbours and Council staff to reassure them that the verge gardening is for the benefit of all.

Avoiding Disputes

There are two ways to avoid disputes.

The first is to make sure you interpret the rules correctly and begrudgingly obey them. If anyone makes a complaint but you are following the rules, you should be ok.

The second is to understand the issues and opportunities of this space and work with your council to transform our streets for the better. Within that you can focus on your own priorities and causes. This way it is more like respecting their rules rather than being obedient.

To help build this understanding, we’ve created a free mini-course – Verge Garden Basics – Understanding the Space