Photography by Evelyn J. Hadden

It's easy to overlook the so-called 'hellstrip'—that small strip of land between the sidewalk and the curb—but transforming that space into a garden can add big time curb appeal.

Guest blogger and author of Hellstrip Gardening and Beautiful No-Mow Yards, Evelyn Hadden presents four ideas for waterwise plant pairs for curbside gardens. These plants are tough, easy-care, and don't need much water to thrive.

Photography by Josh McCullough, from the book Hellstrip Gardening

All about texture

Creeping Raspberry (Rubus pentalobus) is a flat, dense groundcover with crinkly velvet year-round foliage and occasional edible fruit that gracefully softens straight edges. Established Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria) plants will have no trouble emerging through this carpet, will appreciate the extra soil moisture it retains, and will be less likely to self-sow through it.


Photography by Evelyn J. Hadden

Cheerful and easy-care 

Tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora) and California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) attain similar heights and bloom summer into fall without supplemental water. California Poppy emerges earlier and may already be blooming when Tickseed leaves begin to poke up in late spring. Both plants self-sow to fill space and and repair gaps.


Photography by Josh McCullough, from the book Hellstrip Gardening

Glowing garden

Silver tinted foliage manages to look fresh on hot, sunny days and can even appear to glow at dawn and twilight. The fuzzy, oversized leaves of Silver Sage (Salvia argentea) dramatically contrast with the tiny white nubbins of Cape Blanco Creeping Sedum (S. spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’). Both are evergreen perennials; the Salvia is short-lived but may self-sow.


Photography by Evelyn J. Hadden

Tough but delicate

Lacy but surprisingly sturdy Curlicue Sage (Artemisia versicolor ‘Sea Foam’) forms a dense, foot-high mass that overpowers shorter plants. However, stiff daggers of Bearded Iris (I. germanica) easily pierce it in spring. The showy cover of Sage remains year-round, covering the ground between Iris shows.

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