ACT News


Nature strip vegetable garden draft guidelines published by ACT government

Draft new rules for Canberra's nature strips will allow Canberrans to plant ground cover, native grass, fruit and vegetables and shrubs without getting approval.

They will also be allowed to use gravel, so long as it is no more than 50 per cent gravel with 50 per cent planting, and to install temporary fences using rope, string and hardwood stakes to protect new plants.

Garden edging is allowed, using stone, brick or timber, but no more than 15 centimetres high.

But significant parts of the city's central suburbs will remain outside the rules, with development of nature strips remaining banned in "garden city" heritage precincts, including the Barton housing precinct, areas of Braddon and Reid, the Corroboree Park and Wakefield Gardens precincts in Ainslie, and areas in Forrest and Griffith. Nature strips in those zones must remain open and grassed under the proposal.

Different rules also apply to bushfire prone areas, where residents are told to avoid tan bark, tussock grasses and other flammable materials, and use plants with low oil content and fleshy leaves. 


Outside the heritage areas, households can plant, use gravel and erect temporary fencing and edging without approval, and can seek approval for more extensive work on their nature strips - including irrigation and synthetic turf.

The guidelines say that while dryland grass, native grass, low plants and food plants are preferred, synthetic turf is allowed with approval, so long as it is not within the drip line of trees. Synthetic turf is not allowed in bushfire zones and the guidelines warn that the government will not be responsible for any damage to synthetic turf from work on a tree in the nature strip.

Householders could also seek permission for bollards 1 to 1.2 metres high to prevent people parking on nature strips. Bollards near footpaths and driveways must have reflective markers and be made of hardwood, tanalith pine or recycled plastic, materials that allowed them to fragment if hit by a car.

Irrigation is allowed with approval, as long as irrigation systems are laid without posing a trip hazard and sprinklers don't directly wet footpaths and roads.

Canberrans will also need to get approval to store landscaping material for more than two weeks on their nature strips.

The draft guidelines have been issued for public feedback until March 2.

They were prepared when the Greens' Shane Rattenbury was the responsible minister, with Mr Rattenbury determined to have new rules in place before October's election. Labor's Meegan Fitzharris was made territories minister in last month's reshuffle and is now responsible for making the change. 

The new rules would ban ponds, fountains, permanent fencing, retaining walls, letterboxes, shipping containers, chicken runs, play equipment, boulders, pavers and concrete paths and new trees.

They also continue the ban on parking, stressing that it remains illegal to park any vehicle, including trailers, caravans and boats, on nature strips.

While food gardens and shrubs will be allowed, the guidelines propose a height limit of 50 cm, presumably ruling out tall plants such as tomatoes and corn. 

The height limit is to ensure that line of sight is not blocked for cars. The rules say householders are responsible for keeping the nature strip "orderly and safe" so pedestrians, cyclists and others can safely use the area, and ban the use of snail bait or chemical sprays on nature strips.

Street trees must be protected, with no excavation under the drip line and no grass clippings or other materials around the base of the tree.

Clearance zones must be maintained within 1.5 metres of the kerb and driveway and 50 cm of a footpath.

Renters will need permission from the property owner to plant out their nature strips.

Ms Fitzharris said 178 people had filled out an online survey on the proposal to date, with just over 80 per cent supportive.

"Any comments about the height, types of vegetation, approvals that are required and any infrastructure on nature strips in our suburbs will be very welcome," she said.


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