Parking strip: the area of land between the street and the sidewalk in front of your house.

Remember Rip Your Strip? It’s essentially a program that encourages Utahns (#2 in the nation for water consumption!) and other desert dwellers to get rid of that strip of grass and replace it with water-wise, native desert plants. I think the reason they target the parking strip is because for one thing, it’s a small area that homeowners can tackle, and for another thing the strip ends up guzzling a ton of water because it’s hard to efficiently place a sprinkler on such a narrow strip without watering the sidewalk and street.

Some SLCers are probably laughing at me right now, because we’re experiencing a very rainy wet spring on top higher than average snowfall this year that’s just chomping at the bit to melt and come rushing down into the valley. That’s right folks, we’re looking at some pretty high chances of flooding this year.

But ultimately, Salt Lake sits in a desert valley, and in the long run these plants are perfect.

I have a love/hate relationship with xeriscaping. I think it’s an awesome idea, but a lot of time people think “Hey, if the plants are native, then that means they’ll take care of themselves and I don’t have to do anything!” Those people end up having having yards that look like poo. You still have to weed, nurture, spread mulch, and yes, you may need to water a little bit.

Also, some people’s idea of xeriscaping is this:

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I guess it’s ok to see one of those once in a while, but I certainly wouldn’t like to see a whole neighborhood of that. Also, I think SLC might technically have guidelines about ratio of plants to rocks to avoid strips like this (which seems kind of funny and frivolous to me, but whatevs).

A lot of parking strips are just plain grass, like mine when I bought the house. This isn’t mine, but you get the idea:

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Then we killed the grass with black plastic and dug it out, and it looked like this:

(click photo for source)

(Again, not mine.)

And finally, after some rock laying, plant planting, and mulch spreading, we had this!

My dad said to me “That’s the best it’s ever going to look.” Thanks, dad. Doesn’t he seem like a real charmer based on what I write about him on the blog? Well, he was kinda right. My big beautiful tree starts losing seed pods mid-summer, so I’m raking pretty much constantly until snow starts to fall. And the pods and leaves get down in my mulch and gets it looking right crappy.

However, I’m super excited because the plants are all rapidly growing! I think that will make the mess of seed pods and leaves less noticeable and easier to clean out. It’s hard to see the difference in the pictures, but trust me it’s there. A ton of the plants I got were just starts from this beautiful yard, and they required kind of a lot of attention while they were getting established. Now that they’re feeling at home and growing bigger, I’m excited to see how much (or little) watering I’ll need to do this summer.

And plus, we refreshed the look by weeding, removing fallen sticks, pulling off the dead parts of the plants, and adding $4 worth of mulch.

Mulch is our friend because it looks nice and it’s a good natural weed barrier.

nice butt!

Of course as it’s still early, none of the flowers are out yet. There’s yarrow, catmint, pussytoes, snow-in-summer, lavender, and some other really cool flowers that I can’t remember but should get pretty tall. I’m excited to see what it looks like by the end of the summer!

I’m hoping for this:

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and this:

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Or ya know, half of that.

PS- I could have waited till the end of summer to “revisit” the parking strip, but I wanted to post it now because the next few weeks are the perfect time to get starts if you’re interested in doing something like this, or even if your yard just needs some more perennials. When we’re into the dry, hot summer, it’s less ideal for new plants and harder to keep them moist. Ask a neighbor or friend with a mature yard, and I’m sure they’d be happy to have you come clean up/thin out their plants!