Planting perennials in a parking strip

Asked June 1, 2020, 8:04 PM EDT

I am trying to do my part to spruce up the cul-de-sac by planting in my parking strip. It is in the full sun between two driveways. The shape is a trapezoid, 3' on curb side, 9' on sidewalk side, 5' deep (30 square '). There is a water meter towards the middle. I want a low maintenance, drought resistant ground cover and something of interest a little taller, also. Across the sidewalk I have a maroon Japanese maple as a backdrop. I like cotoneaster dammeri for its seasonal interest as the ground cover, and I am thinking of a sedum for the taller specimen...maybe two. I welcome your advice on my choices as well. I removed some rotted weed cloth that must have had bark on it at one time. It was bare with just the cloth visible. (ugly!) I turned the soil to the depth of 4-6". It is clay and rock. Could you please provide me with some guidance on the following questions: (1) what kind of soil amendment should I use given my choice of plants? (2) how would you recommend I space my plants? I found some cotoneaster dammeri in 4" pots and a 1# potted sedum (e.g. Autumn Charm 10-15" tall and wide). Should the sedum be in the middle or to the sidewalk side? (3) do I need to mulch and keep the soil damp while the plants are getting established, and then let them settle into our dry, hot summers naturally as they mature? Thank you.

Washington County Oregon

3 Responses

Cotoneaster is a reasonable choice, but might I suggest you consider kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) It will have a similar look, but it is also a native plant so once established will be quite carefree. It's in the manzanita family so it can definitely withstand the dry summers. You could likely do a combination of the two. My concern about having something taller is that folks may be parking next to it so the plants may have to withstand some foot traffic. I would probably plant the sedum where it can easily be avoided by car doors and foot traffic. It really comes down to your aesthetic.

You will want to add compost to the soil, about two inches and work it in by turning as you have already done. Any plants will need supplemental water for at least the next two years and maybe three. Of course if there is a long dry stretch you may need to provide some water especially if the plants look stressed.

Thank you! Foot traffic is not an issue as we are at the tightest corner of the curve in the cul-de-sac and there are two driveways 3' apart.
I will follow these ideas. Yes--I have interplanted kinnikinnick and cotoneaster in my last garden (it was a hillside) to good affect. Actually--it was an accidental mix up, but worked!
Follow up: how many cubic feet would that be of compost? @ 30 sq' of "garden" X 2" of amendment?

30 * (2/12) = 5 cubic ft of compost At retail, most large bags are 1 cubic ft.