Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Nitty Gritty II August 14, 2008

I asked the Seattle City Arborist to comment on my original post on city regulations, and apparently I got a few things wrong! Mea culpa. The city does NOT in fact own the parking strip (or planting strip, as they call it), the homeowner does, with an easement for use by the city. There are a number of regulations about height and materials, quoted below, along with the arborist’s contact info in case you have further questions.

"Thanks for your interest in planting strip gardening and sharing
information with the general public. I am attaching a Client
Assistance Memo (CAM) that discusses planting strip regulations.
A list of CAM's published by SDOT is located on the web. Scroll
down to"Urban Forestry" for a list of documents published through
our division, including planting strips.

It sounds like you found the list of suggested plants on the web
(the link is found under the "What's Happening" section). The list
is currently being updated. 

Although the list may not be exhaustive, and gardeners are encouraged
to be creative, they do need to follow some parameters. Plants grown
within the area equal to or less than 30 feet from an intersection
may not exceed 24" (2-feet) in height at maturity. This is so that
visibility is adequately maintained. (cars and pedestrians visible
to each other). When a planting strip is 5-feet wide, or less, plants
may not exceed 36" (3-feet) in height at maturity. This is to help
assure pedestrian safety/visibility as well as to maintain pedestrian
walkways and the roadway clear of overgrowth which may impede travel
on the right-of-way. With wider strips, it is possible to put in scattered,
taller plants, if planted in the middle of the strip. 

There are also regulations about "hardscape" - which may include
planting beds in the strip. Raised beds may be constructed from
timber but rocks or bricks that are easily moved (read here "picked
up and thrown") are not allowed. Permits are required for raised beds.
Permits are also required to plant, prune or remove trees.

Concerning food gardening, while there are no regulations prohibiting
it, SDOT does not recommend growing food in planting strips because
of safety concerns. The concerns include the proximity of gardening
activity to roadways/traffic and unanswered questions regarding soils
and contaminants. I would, at a minimum, recommend a comprehensive
soil test before considering food gardening in planting strips. 

One more thing, I work with the traffic circle stewards and just
recently initiated a LIST SERV as a means of communication for that
group of gardeners. I've included information about signing up."

Linden L. Mead, Certified Arborist
Seattle Department of Transportation
Urban Forestry
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124-4996

Hoo boy, can o' worms. Does anyone get a soil test before putting
in food plants on the street? I sure didn't think to! Maybe I need
to get the next post up soon, on raised beds and soil improvement!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s