Verge Improvements

What is the Verge? Why Design it?

The verge is an important part of the streetscape.  The verge is the area between the road, your property and the property next door. The verge is Crown Land, under the control of the City and a shared area set aside for;  

  • Access to residential, rural and  commercial lots
  • Crossovers (driveways)
  • Footpaths 
  • Linking to the natural environment 
  • Pedestrian movement 
  • Service utilities 
  • Street trees.

A well designed verge can play a crucial role in enhancing the liveability and amenity of a suburb. The verge can increase biodiversity and habitat for our wildlife through adding linkages and corridors between areas of vegetation. A biodiverse, green verge assists to cool your local area, through reducing the urban heat effect caused by large areas of hard and dark coloured surfaces.

The City encourages improvements to the verge that incorporate waterwise design and plantings.

Who is responsible for the street verge?

The City encourages all property owners, managers or residents to maintain the verge. This includes

  • Mowing
  • Mulching
  • Pruning
  • Maintaining the safe condition of any approved structures or furniture
  • Weeding

Street trees are the responsibility of the City. Residents and ratepayers are not permitted to prune or remove the street tree. If the tree needs watering, the City would appreciate the resident watering it. 

It is important to consider all information within the Verge Improvement Guideline prior to installing a verge treatment. All matters related to verge treatments including design, requests for information and/or approvals, should be directed to the City's Customer Service on 08 9411 3444 or customer@cockburn.wa.gov.au opens in a new window

Verge Improvement Application

Structures such as fruit and vegetable planters and other street furniture items are permitted, although approval by the City is first required to ensure public safety.

Approval is also required for street furniture, play equipment and hard surface treatments where more than 25% of the verge is paved.

To apply for approval, please complete the form below:
 
Verge Improvement Application Form

Guidelines for your Verge

Acceptable materials for your verge treatment

  • Drought tolerant lawn species

  • Local waterwise plants are reccomended 

  • Low groundcovers

  • Mid-level shrubs and approved trees

  • Mulched gardens 

  • Vegetable and fruit gardens

Street tree/verge requests

Trees beautify, provide habitat for wildlife and cool our streets and suburbs reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect. Street Trees help to secure these benefits by increasing our urban tree canopy cover. The City’s aspirations are for a thriving urban forest, the Urban Forest Plan presents a clear pathway to achieving this.

If you would like your verge to help  improve the liveability of our suburbs, contact the City and request a free Street Tree today. 

Water Sensitive Urban Design
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is about designing our urban environments to optimise the use of rain water falling onsite. This means directing rain water onto our verges and gardens to reduce scheme water usage and to infiltrate into the groundwater.

The City is implementing drainage options such as swales and rain gardens to use rain and storm water onsite. Utilising rain water tanks plumbed in to your property to reduce household scheme water use and to water the verge is a waterwise option.
Community verges

Beautifying your street can be a team effort, creating a more liveable, safer and resilient community. Talk to your neighbours about a joint verge project. By upgrading the verge area on your street with your neighbours, you may be eligible for the City’s Sustainability Grants opens in a new window. Sharing the labour and the purchases reduces costs and enhance connection with your local community.

Grants, Subsidies and Resources

The City has several initiatives that will assist you in improving your verge.

Waterwise Verge Rebate opens in a new window – Waterwise Verge Rebate provides eligible applicants with financial support for Waterwise verge installations. Applicants have free access to professional verge designs, and these include a list of plant species. This rebate runs for a limited time to utilise seasonal rainfall. 

Native Plant Subsidy Scheme opens in a new window – provides residents with the opportunity to purchase subsidised native plants in May each year. 

Sustainability Grants opens in a new window – collective (2 or more) households can apply for funding for Waterwise verge improvement projects, up to $4,000

Grow Local Brochures opens in a new window – enables residents to select the right plants for their area and soil type.

Garden workshops – these provide advice on verge design, composting, food gardening, Waterwise plants and tips. 

Free mulch opens in a new window – pick up free mulch from the Henderson Waste Recovery Park. Bring your own shovel, trailer/ute to load your own mulch. 

Service and utility locations

Underneath the verge area contains the service utilities, telephone lines and electricity cables. Before beginning any excavation work, it is important to find the location of any below ground services. Verge treatments must not cover or obstruct access to these services.
 
Call ‘Dial before you Dig’, a free call on  1100 or visit Utility providers opens in a new window website to have the right to access, upgrade or repair services. Returning the verge to its former design may be the responsibility of the householder.

Gardens

To create a safe and beautiful verge garden, the plant height restrictions and the designs shown in this document. Use plants that match your soil type and local climate conditions. Consider grouping and mass planting (hydrozoning) of similar species and water needs to reduce water use. Vegetable gardens can be planted, approval is needed for a raised planter bed.

Lawn

If you would like lawn on your verge, the City recommends reducing the area. Lawn can need a lot of watering, select a drought-tolerant species to reduce garden water use. Mass plantings of low-growing ground covers can create a grass-like cover. There are native species that achieve this look.

Mulch

Once planting is complete, apply for a course, large particle size, Waterwise mulch to the verge. Mulch will reduce evaporation, maintain soil temperature, reduce plant stress and help to suppress weed growth. Mulch this size will enhance water penetration into the soil. Mulch should be kept below kerb and footpaths height, at a depth of 5–10cm. Large and heavy mulch should be installed and maintained to not drift onto the footpath or road as it can cause a safety hazard.

Free mulch is available from the Henderson Waste Waste Recover Park opens in a new window

Reticulation

The City recommends non-irrigated Waterwise verges. Water only on your allocated watering days as outlined by the Water Corporation opens in a new window. Check their website for full details.

Paving

Prior permission from the City, is required to pave an area more than 25% of your verge. Porous pavement and paving with gaps between pavers allow for water to percolate into the soil. This will keep the water on-site for your plants, rather than flowing off the paving away into the drainage system.

To apply for approval, please complete the form below:

Verge Landscaping Application Form opens in a new window

Unacceptable Materials

Due to safety concerns some verge treatments are not permitted. These images are local examples of noncompliant, unacceptable verge treatments. If verge treatments present a hazard, the City will request remedial works to correct the problem.

  • Signs
  • Fences
  • Stakes and sharp items
  • Barriers
  • Variable message boards
  • Loose materials 
  • Inorganic meaterials
Approvals Required

Any verge works outside the ‘Acceptable materials’ will require the lodgement of a Verge Landscape Application opens in a new window

Your design should include existing features such as street trees, crossovers, driveways, footpaths and other infrastructure. Approval will be subject to conditions that the City considers appropriate.  

Impermeable surfaces, paving and synthetic turf, are strongly discouraged by the City. Any proposal seeking approval for over 25% of these surfaces will need to detail water containment, heat mitigation treatments and any potential safety issues. It is encouraged to incorporate acceptable material treatments with any proposal.

To submit a plan, and seek approval please complete the online Verge Landscaping Application Form opens in a new window 

You need approval and justification for the following: 

  • Art Structures 

  • Impermeable surfaces, paving and hard treatments if more than 25% of the verge is paved
  • Play equipment

  • Raised garden beds and vegetable planters

  • Street furniture 

  • Street tree requests

  • Synthetic turf.

Verge Design

Accessibility
Verges are shared zones used by other residents, including the elderly and disabled, postal deliveries and service utilities. Access by others should be considered when designing your verge. Changes to your verge should not obstruct access. 
Set-backs There needs to be a 1.5 meter clearance from the road kerb if no footpath has been installed. This clearance allows pedestrians safe refuge if they need to get off the road.

Sightlines
There should be a clear line of sight across the verge for vehicles entering and exiting the road network from a crossover (driveway) to the property. Planted areas should not create hazards for people, bicycles, prams, wheelchairs or vehicles. Especially pertinent in newer suburbs where the verge size is reduced. Figure 1 (page 5) shows plant heights that facilitate clear sight lines. All plants, mulch and tree branches that encroach on footpaths, roads and private property need to be trimmed on a regular basis. 

Plant height parameters
Maximum plant height of 600mm between 1.5–2.5m from the road kerb 
Maximum plant height of 800mm between 2.5–3.5m from the road kerb  
Maximum plant height of 1.2m in height beyond 3.5m from the road kerb.

Waste collection
Leave a clear space for easy access to your rubbish bins on collection day. This can be a paved (1m by 1m) or mulched area.                        

Designing
Plan out your verge garden on paper to get some perspective of where your plants are best located and what you can fit into the space. Plan for mature plant heights, to ensure sightlines are maintained. Professional verge designs are available free with the Waterwise Verge Rebate scheme.

Picture of verge service and utility locations examples

Verge Design Examples 

The following diagrams provide simple design examples on how to set out your verge. 

Corner Blocks

A corner block provides a great opportunity for additional urban cooling trees. The garden feel can be maintained by continuing a hedge or planting into your front garden. The entire verge can also be planted where the footpath is located along the back of the kerb, Figure 2. This provides safe pedestrian access along the side. 

Truncation

Truncation areas, Figure 2, ensure safety by providing unobstructed sightlines at vehicle access points, such as corners and driveways. When planting your verge and inside your property, give consideration of sightlines for cars exiting driveways turning corners, ground covers only in these areas. Check the City's Intramaps  opens in a new windowfor your corner truncation boundaries. 

Corner block verge designs

Two examples of corner block verge designs
Verge with centrally located footpath

Some clear space is required for your rubbish bins. This can be paved (1m by 1,) or mulched. Limit heights of plants to around 800mm and use mulch with your groundcovers.

example of  verge with centrally located footpath
Verge with no footpath
Pedestrians access is still required when there is no footpath. To allow this, use large size mulch, native ground covers or drought-tolerant lawn in a 1.5m strip along the back of the kerb. This also provides a place for your bin. A street tree would be ideal for these verges and would provide a central point to design your verge garden. 

example of verge design with no footpath
Disconnected Verge

A disconnected verge is one with restricted, limited or no access from private property. Usually when there is a height level difference from the front/side of the house down to the verge area. Paving here will exacerbate the Urban Heat Island Effect. The most effective verge treatment is Waterwise verge, with no grass; these require minimal water and maintenance. Applying large-sized mulch and applying for a street tree could assist with creating a low maintenance verge, combat weed issues an create a natural, environmentally friendly verge.

Example of disconnected verge
Small verge
Contact the City's Customer Service Team on 08 9411 3444 or email to request a street tree, one appropriate for the space available. A small verge may not need more than one species of ground cover. 

Example of small verge area

Verge Planting Tips

Take a look at the various verge planting tips the City has to offer.
Verge preparation

Ground preparation and soil improvements play a significant role in the success of a verge garden and should be integral to your verge improvement planning.

Removal of existing lawn and weeds is critical to help your Waterwise verge garden thrive. This can be completed manually or by using a natural herbicide. It can be a hard task; planning into the timeline is important.

Local sandy soils need improving as they lack many nutrients required for plants to thrive. To increase soils microbial activity and nutrients, apply a soil conditioner like compost, native slow-release fertiliser and clay to the top 30 centimetres. Local soils can be water-repelling. Adding a wetting agent will increase the soils ability to allow water and nutrients penetrate to the plant root zone.

When to plant

The best time to plant is after substantial rain, generally in late autumn or early winter. Planting makes the most of natural rain to get plants established and reduces scheme water use. Avoid planting in hotter months, as new plants will struggle to survive without considerable water.

Plant selection

The best plants are those suited to our local environmental conditions. Local native West Australian species are the most Waterwise plants, as they have adapted to our dry climate. Consider planting different local plant species which will attract diverse wildlife.

The Grow Local Plants opens in a new window brochure provides information about local native plants and where to find them.

Plants to avoid

When selecting plants for your verge, be careful not to plant declared weeds or prickly and poisonous plants. Some native species can also become environmental weeds.

Further Information and Contact

The Water Corporation opens in a new window website provides information on Waterwise plants for Perth.

Free Mulch can be collected from Henderson Waste Recovery Park, located at 920 Rockingham Road, Henderson. The park is open 7 days a week between 8am-4.30pm.

If you require any assistance or further advice about the design of your verge, permissions required or general verge queries, please contact the City's Environmental Department on 08 9411 3444 or customer@cockburn.wa.gov.au opens in a new window

 

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Contact

Address

9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Language Support

Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging.