Greening Unley

Greening verges

The City of Unley encourages residents to take ownership of the strip of land in front of properties through greening. There are many verges containing dolomite (a hard surface that prevents water from entering the ground below). If these are replaced with loam and low plantings or lawn, it will improve soil moisture, make streets and homes more attractive, add to the cool, green feel of the City and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Other benefits include:

  • providing a healthier environment for street trees;
  • softening our streets and homes of hard surfaces such as roads and footpaths;
  • increasing property value; 
  • improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • cooling streets and homes during heatwaves; 
  • improving our mental and physical wellbeing; 
  • reducing stormwater run-off and pollution; and
  • providing habitat for small creatures like bees and butterflies.

Things to know before you start

Before you Begin

Prior to starting any works:

You can green your verge anytime. If you currently have dolomite that needs to be removed and replaced with soil, decide if you plan to complete this work yourself, engage a landscape contractor or have City of Unley complete the work for a fee subject to a quote.

Council periodically offers a Greening Verge Incentive Program (subject to budget approval) to assist residents or businesses to green their verge. For eligible applicants, Council will replace dolomite with soil for free. To register an expression of interest to be notified when the next round of incentive applications open, please visit the link below.

Please note, even though verges are classified as part of a public road under the Local Government Act 1999, and as such are owned by Council, your property can benefit directly from improved kerb appeal in your street. 

Selecting the right plants 

It's important to make sure your project will not inadvertently harm street trees or other users of the area.

Our Verges Planting Guide(PDF, 2MB) provides useful ideas and suggestions on planting your verge including:

  • planning advice

  • landscaping rules 

  • garden design ideas

  • plant suggestions for greening your nature strip 

Green your verge with natives(PDF, 176KB) provides a list of local native plants that are suitable for verge gardens and will help increase local biodiversity. Local native species are well adapted to our climate and will create habitat and refuge for native butterflies, birds and bees. 

Top Tips 

  • Plantings are to be kept lower than 600mm in height to ensure adequate vision for vehicles entering and leaving driveways.

  • Inform Council if you are planning on installing irrigation to the verge. The pipework will need to go under the footpath and Council will need to be aware in advance.

  • Locate underground services like pipes and cables before undertaking any type of works involving digging in the ground. Contact Dial before You Dig on 1100 before you start.

  • During landscaping works, special consideration should be given to preserving the vital root system of any trees within the verge.

  • Keep tools and other items off the road and footpath to prevent passers-by from tripping on them. The area must be kept safe at all times.

  • To prevent stormwater pollution, materials such as soil or mulch must be swept up from hard surfaces such as the footpath and gutter.

  • After planting it will be your responsibility to care for your new verge garden. Keep them watered, free from weeds and pruned if they start spreading too high or onto the footpath.

  • Please note artificial turf is not an approved material to be used on the City of Unley verges effective 14 December 2020. 

Display verges for inspiration

Our display verges at Edmund Avenue showcase a variety of plants and treatments that you could use to transform your verge into an attractive garden feature.

Take a stroll down Edmund Avenue, Unley and be inspired by contemporary, cottage, natural and formal layout examples, including different path ideas. All meet the guidelines of safe plant choices and low plant heights to ensure good sight lines for road users.

Greening Verge Incentive Program

Applications for the Greening Verge Incentive program for 2023/24 are now closed.

Thank you for your interest in this popular program to help green Unley.

The Greening Verge Incentive has reached capacity and we are no longer accepting applications for the 2023/24 program. 

We will be assessing applications and will contact all applicants to notify them of the outcome. For successful applicants, actual works will occur from late October 2023.

The Greening Verge Incentive program assists Unley residents or organisations to beautify their verge.

For successful applicants, Council will remove existing dolomite and replace with 100mm depth of soil at no cost, leaving the verge ready for planting and ongoing maintenance by the residents.

Terms and conditions apply

The program has enabled the conversion of over 500 verges across the City of Unley in the last six years. 

 Click here to view form.

A guide to planting

We're keen to help you identify plants which are native to Unley so that you plan your own native garden.

A useful tool prepared by the Botanic Gardens is the Plant Selector Plus website where you can view suitable plants based on your postcode.

There is also Green Adelaide’s Guide to getting started with gardening where you can find tips on gardening basics and plant selection as well as the Adelaide Gardens Planting Guide(PDF, 4MB) and their new Adelaide Garden Guide of New Homes(PDF, 43MB), a booklet designed to help new developments to meet the Planning and Design Code’s standards for trees and soft landscaping.  

Environmental groups & community gardens

The following groups share information and encourage people to get involved to make sustainable contributions to our local environment.

Visit our community gardens page to learn about gardens in the City of Unley.

Animals and biodiversity

Trees and plants provide habitat for many animals that live in our city. A variety and abundance of plants and animals creates a healthy biodiversity and urban ecosystem. There are many mutually beneficial relationships between plants and animals that help make our environment balanced and healthy. For example, different plants and fungi can cycle nutrients in the soil and certain birds help keep insect levels in check. 

Many of our animals rely on hollows in large old trees to nest or den in, such as birds and possums. As the number of large trees with hollows decline, the native wildlife that depends on them for food and shelter are also in danger of disappearing. Aside from impacting the wildlife itself, loss of nature in cities has a detrimental effect on people and sense of place. 

Wildlife boxes

The City of Unley has multiple native biodiversity corridors and plantings, such as Windsor Street Linear Reserve, to help preserve wildlife and rebuild important natural relationships. To support the loss of natural tree hollows, the Council has an artificial wildlife box program(PDF, 2MB) with over 197 installed across the city. Boxes are different shapes and sizes to accommodate a variety of wildlife including parrots, possums, kookaburras, pardalotes (native wrens) and bats. Each year, the boxes are serviced and surveyed to record wildlife activity. The boxes are cleaned, if required, and new nesting material is added. The mechanisms that secure the boxes are safety checked and adjusted to allow tree growth.

  Tree Hollow       Nesting boxes various sizes    


Supporting native wildlife

Here are 5 steps you could take to support native wildlife in our City. 

  1. Protect a tree – dead or alive – especially one with an existing hollow.
  2. Install a nesting box - native hollows are best, but nest boxes are better than nothing. 
  3. If you have space, plant a tree or three. 
  4. Understorey planting is important too – native shrubs, wildflowers and grasses will provide food and shelter. 
  5. Avoid the use of chemicals in your garden.