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Pavement planting

MolamolaMolamola Posts: 106
Last year, rather experimentally, I buried some sedum kamtschaticum cuttings under handfuls of coconut coir potting mix at the foot of my house, where it joins the pavement. There was no soil other than what I added, only cement, concrete and dust from the streets. I watered them twice a day at the beginning, and regularly tamped down the soil, since there were no roots to bind them.  Over the hot summer, the foliage of the cuttings shriveled up, but then new shoots reappeared. Against all odds, they survived the harsh winter, put down roots, and this spring, were multiplying and growing strongly.

Inspired by their success, I bought some thyme and achillea and did the same at the weekend near the sedum.  These were bigger plants, so looked like little mud heaps (definitely not pretty, but they would have disappeared over time as the plants settled in). 

Today, I found that all my mud heaps were gone, but worse, that someone (the street cleaners?) had also removed the sedum (very roughly, since I can see portions of stem and roots were left). 

I feel really sad for these resilient little plants.  

I had thought that if I made the pavement area a little nicer, people might think twice before throwing cigarette butts and general litter.  

I'm posting this in case anyone ever thought about pavement planting and might find this experience helpful, but also in case there is something I missed e.g. if planting like this could damage paving or the house foundations - I wouldn't have thought so.

I might try again in time, after speaking to the council to find out if I'm okay to plant in front of my house and how to protect them...


  • FireFire Posts: 17,352
    Sorry to hear your lovely experiment went awry. Keep going! Hopefully the sedum will shoot again if roots are still there. When starting pavement planting it can be useful to put a little sign up noting that the planting is intentional, especially if there are seasonal times the councils come around to edge or spray. Many councils are very supportive.

    I don't think small plants like sedum will make any damage to walls or foundations. If planting in street tree pits, it is good to keep the plants small so that they don't complete with existing trees. Some years ago we planted scilla sib. bulbs under all the street trees and now they are coming into their own and we get a wonderful blue mats dotted down the street in the spring.

    Street planting can be a long game. It's planting often without express permission, in a public space with lots of footfall, so there can be damage from people and other animals. But often, if we pursue it, it can bring joy to lots of locals, especially children, who tend to be the ones that notice these things. Don't get dishearted! I find that the more I add, the less things get trashed. Through covid times, lots of street tree fairy gardens popped up locally. It attracts notice of passers by and plants get less trodden on.

    It think sedum are a great choice. They often regrow when broken (trodden on) and you can stick the broken bits back in the ground. Erigeron also might be happy in that spot and might self seed around. I tend not to use edibles in case people want to eat them (not a great idea).

    Neighbours in our four streets have about ten pavement plots going now (many with fairy gardens). There is a little synopsis here. It's definitely a project for the brave of heart - animals pee on everything, people steal stuff and break stuff, most people don't notice it at all, but I think the rewards are great! Little gardens everywhere.

  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,994
    @Molamola & @Fire That's the spirit, bravo!
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • FireFire Posts: 17,352

  • MolamolaMolamola Posts: 106
    Thank you @Papi Jo and @Fire.  This really cheered me up. I will persevere!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,352
    Onwards and upwards!
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,200
    @Molamola and @Fire - bravo for your pavement/tree planting!  The street cleaner in our town does a great job of keeping the town litter free but he is sadly one of those who likes to zap anything growing out of the pavement or around tree trunks with chemicals. So sad. 
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,352
    @didyw Many councils in England are now very support and many offer (or used to offer) grants to help out. A conversation with the council's tree officer and a little sign by the pavement planting often helps.

    Also, if you can nab the street cleaner as s/he is going past and explain the situ, it may help. You do occasionally encounter those jobsworths that refuse to delight in sedum and pansies, but usually it's because they didn't realise.
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,200
    @Fire - this is the local parish council.  The main district council is much more supportive and has lots of schemes to encourage wildflowers.  They are in charge of the grounds of the big redundant church in the centre of town and wait until all the wildflowers have set seed before mowing.  It's the little wildflowers peeping out from the edges of pavements/between pavements and buildings and around the base of the planted trees that the street cleaner zaps.  I know him and also know that he lobbied the parish council to allow him to get a license to use chemicals on these.  Opinion was very divided and those that see these plants as unsightly weeds won.
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,352
    @didyw - ah, I see, not intentional plantings.
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