Do you have a hellstrip in your front yard? The not-so-affectionately named hellstrip primarily refers to the strip of landscape between the street and the sidewalk in an urban setting. However, it can refer to any similar strip of dirt between hardscape structures (such as a driveway and walkway).
The hellstrip is notoriously difficult to landscape for many reasons — including its proximity to the busy street, potential for snow and water overflow, lack of high-quality soil, and small size. But you can enjoy landscape success even here. How? Here are a few dos and don'ts any property owner can try.
Do Include Pathways. Hellstrips often become trampled due to pedestrians and residents taking shortcuts across them. One of the best ways to prevent this is to give pedestrians paths across the landscape. Given convenient crossing locations, most people will use them. How many pathways you need depends on how the area is used and its size.
Don't Fight Nature. Embrace and work with the nature of the hellstrip in question. If snowplows regularly pile up snow on the plot, consider planting bulbs that come up in the spring but which are protected underground during winter. A lot of sun and too little irrigation? Choose sun-loving plants, such as hardy alpine flowers.
Do Mix Hardscape and Softscape. Many owners either spend all their time trying to fill the hellstrip with grass and flowers or they give up and cover it with hardscape. You don't need to go to either extreme, though. Feel free to mix plants, rocks, grass, concrete, trees, and other elements in ways that maximize the good and minimize trouble spots.
Don't Forget the Soil. Many hellstrips suffer because the soil isn't of good quality. Before you begin with its makeover, start by testing the soil and determining how you can make it the best canvas for all your plantings. Common soil problems include incorrect pH levels for desired plants, compaction from overuse, and unbalanced nutrients and minerals due to road exposure. Solve these issues before landscaping.
Do Add a Barrier. Subtle barriers help protect hellstrips from trampling, neighborhood pets, vehicle compaction, and kids playing. That barrier could be literal, such as a very low picket fence around the perimeter, or it may be either larger rocks or shrubs planted along the border. A natural barrier doesn't have to feel unwelcoming but can instead be made to seem organic and part of the design.
Want more tips for managing, landscaping, and improving your hellstrip? Start by meeting with an experienced landscaping service such as Ranch On 6 in your region today. With their expertise and these do's and don'ts, you'll have a beautiful front yard feature in no time.