Parking/Median Strip Plants

Gardeners’ Corner-Members Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

“What natives do you use successfully in your parking/median strip?”

2019 May-June

By Dan Songster

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives.

Ron Vanderhoff: “Achillea millifolium (yarrow) works well for me. It grows low, fills in slowly, is durable and can handle some footsteps and dog spray. I have a blend of colors, including the normal white, but including shades of pink and apricot.”

Pam Vallot: “There have been a myriad of plants out there, but five pink fairy dusters have lasted the longest, though they do reseed themselves. They look their best when they flower, late winter to early summer. At one end I have a nice Sand Mesa Manzanita. Next to it, in my neighbor’s small strip, I put a real beauty, Santa Monica Mountains Manzanita. At the other end of the strip, I added the unusual and rare La Purisma Manzanita, way cool . The rest is a work in progress ”

Ed Kimball: “Ambrosia pumila (San Diego ambrosia) has done very well on our parking strip and survives foot traffic.”

Alan Lindsay: “I use plots of Carex pansa and Carex praegracilis separated by alternating plots of decomposed granite (DG) of equal length. Plots are about 6 foot long. Both Carexes require some water and trimming. I keep them about 6 inches high. Not so successful is a plot of Agrostis pallen, San Diego Bentgrass.”

Greg Rubin: “Well, if the strip is wide enough then Bacharris ‘Pigeon Point’ is good—dense and green and can even take a bit of foot traffic. For narrower parkways, there is another Bacharris now called ‘Pozo Surf’ that is low but not as wide IF you can find it. I also like Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’ if the water is moderate. For trees, both Chilopsis linearis and Quercus engelmanni are good for a fairly narrow growth habit.”

Dan Songster: “Sedges for their grass-like green and ability to tolerate foot traffic, (Carex pansa for instance). Blue-eyed grass, our only iris native to OC. If stepping stones or other “walkthroughs” are made part of the design then the number of plants opens up considerably with taller bunch grasses, low Ceanothus forms, as well as Epilobium (California fuchsia) for their low form and summer blooms. The smaller buckwheats like ‘Dana Point’ can also be good as long as the parkway is not too narrow.”