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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Parking strips, Urban horticulture, Vegetable gardening

I want to plant my parking strip for a vegetable garden. Do I need a permit from the city? And if so where do I get a permit?


You do not need a Street Use permit for gardening activities in the planting strip. Here are the City of Seattle's current guidelines for parking strip gardening.

Linden Mead, a Seattle Department of Transportation arborist, addresses one of the concerns I would have about planting edible crops next to a street:
"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 also required to plant, prune or remove trees."

Seattle Department of Transportation has specific information about growing food in the planting or parking strip. There are some concerns as well as a few restrictions, described here:
"SDOT prohibits fruit trees because of the slipping hazard for pedestrians from fallen fruit. For some residents, it's their only sunny area to grow vegetables. But the planting strip is a public space, part of the public right-of-way, so it's hard to control what pets or people do there. It can be harder to reach with water, and there may be concerns with the soil." It is also a good idea to test the soil for contaminants before planting edible crops.

Date 2018-06-22
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Seedlings, Tree planting, Urban horticulture

We are planning to have a 'green' wedding, and thought about giving baby trees to our guests as favors, as a way of giving a gift that will leave an environmental legacy. Do you know of any sources?


I have had several questions like yours in the past, and I usually recommend substituting flower or vegetable seed packets, or perennials (including edible plants like herbs) for saplings. Many of the saplings available are conifers which mature into large trees--often too large for smaller home gardens, unless the residents intend to make them into bonsai specimens. Summer is probably the most labor-intensive time to plant a tree, because of the greater need for irrigation. That being said, there are numerous companies which market 'baby trees' (seedlings) as gifts. Here are just two examples:
Tree in a Box
Green World Project

If you want a green gift which is sustainable, I recommend giving low-maintenance perennial plants which have a high likelihood of survival even in a small home garden or apartment balcony. Another alternative is to donate an amount to an organization that reforests or restores natural areas, and then provide a certificate to each guest saying that a tree has been planted to mark the occasion of your wedding. See links to various organizations that take donations below:
American Forests
Arbor Day Foundation
The Heifer Project

Date 2017-05-26
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Reviewed by: Tracy Mehlin on 2013-02-19

A good book to help those of us living on tiny urban lots, or in the even smaller spaces of condominiums and townhouses is Big Ideas for Northwest Small Gardens by Marty Wingate. It guides the city gardener through design consideration and appropriate plant selection. One chapter answers common questions city gardeners have, such as "Can I have a wildlife garden?" Color photography by Jacqueline Koch helps make this informative book a pleasure to read.

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May 31 2018 13:14:08