By Shaun Moser
Park strips are one of the hardest areas of our landscapes to keep looking good. They are hot, narrow, and hard to water efficiently—which means if you have lawn planted there, it’s probably struggling! Since park strip lawn is watered with overhead spray, we end up watering the sidewalk and street more than the park strip itself. Rather than fighting a losing battle, “Flip Your Strip” into something more manageable, attractive and water thrifty.
The transition from lawn to waterwise plants in the park strip is easier than you might think. Existing spray heads can be switched to drip irrigation with a conversion kit that is available at most irrigation supply stores. A new drip conversion head replaces one or two of the existing sprinkler heads, and then the rest can be capped or removed. Drip irrigation tubing can now be run through the bed from where the conversion kit was placed, and the whole conversion is made without having to change the underground pipes and valves.
Converting to drip irrigation will not only save water, but will efficiently apply the water that you do use. Once your new plants have established root systems after the first growing season you can typically go one week between waterings in your new park strip.
Here are some of our favorite park strip plants:
- Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walkers Low’– Walker’s Low Catmint
Catmint is a plant that thrives in a waterwise garden. It has periwinkle blue flower spikes that begin to bloom in late spring and if deadheaded, will repeat bloom several times. It excels in park strips because its dense mass of foliage helps keep out weeds.
- Tetraneuris acaulis– Sundancer Daisy
This little plant is a super bloomer. It forms tight mounds of small grass-like foliage with numerous yellow, daisy-like flowers dancing above. It begins blooming as early as February/March in the hotter locations of a landscape and continues to bloom well into fall.
- Berlandiera lyrata– Chocolate Flower
Chocolate Flower smells just like the name says it does and showcases little yellow flowers. It’s something you have to experience to believe.
- Syringa reticulata– Ivory Silk Lilac Tree
This tree sports cream-colored flowers in the late spring after other lilacs have stopped blooming. Ivory Silk is a small tree, only getting 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, which is perfect for most park strips.
- Zelkova serrata ‘JFS-KW1’- City Sprite Zelkova
Zelkovas are great trees for landscapes here in Utah, and ‘City Sprite’ is a great choice for a park strip as the upright branches grow out of the way of pedestrians and cars. 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
In addition to our favorites listed above, we’ve created several free downloadable designs at localscapes.com. If you want to learn more you can also attend one of the park strip classes held at Conservation Garden Park. To sign up and find more information about classes, visit conservationgardenpark.org.