By Chelsea McNeill
The Water Corporation is urging local councils to adopt “verge incentive schemes” to help increase so-called urban cooling and foster biodiversity.
“Verge incentive schemes” aim to encourage residents to create and maintain gardens on their verge.
They not only contribute to the beauty of a suburb, but can also help improve water efficiency and provide wildlife.
The City of Fremantle is one of many councils with a “verge incentive scheme,” which was put in place in 2018.
Improving water efficiency is a major aim of Fremantle’s scheme because of the number of large lawn verges in the suburb, according to Jenny Cooper, a landscape architect with the City of Fremantle.
During May, the City of Fremantle offers a plant subsidy scheme of 40 vouchers per verge for low-cost native plants from the local nursery.
“Last year we sold out of plants within two and a half weeks, so we doubled our budget this year,” says Cooper.
“We haven’t sold out yet, but we’ve exceeded what we sold last year already.”
Brixley Graham is horticulturalist and landscape designer:
“Drainage is really important to get water back into the water table, which is an important part of having plants as opposed to paving.”
Graham suggests choosing a combination of native plants that flower at different times so there’s always something for the birds and insects to eat.
As well as its plant subsidy scheme, Fremantle offers assistance in preparing verge gardens, with priority given to people with seniors or healthcare cards,or those who have a large verge.
In 2019 there have been 209 applications for assistance, compared to just nine the year before.
“There are no targets as such, but ultimately we’d like to see everybody planting their verge and removing turf,” says Cooper.