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Nature strips

What is a nature strip?

As defined in the Road Safety Road Rule 2017, a Nature Strip is the area between a road and the adjacent land, but does not include the shoulder of a road or a bicycle path, footpath or shared path.

Parking on nature strips

Victoria’s Road Safety Rule 197 (1) states that a driver must not stop on a path, dividing strip, nature strip, painted island or traffic island, making it illegal to fully or partially park a vehicle on the nature strip.

Vehicles parked on nature strips obstruct the view of drivers and pedestrians entering and exiting driveways. They can cause damage to utility connections and tree roots under the nature strip and prevent access to these utilities as well as being detrimental to the look of the area.

Nature strip maintenance

It is the responsibility of residents to maintain the nature strip(s) adjacent to their property through regular mowing, weeding, and removal of litter.

A nature strip cannot have on it:

  • Hard waste or second hand goods
  • Rubbish, waste, or other materials giving the appearance of neglect.

The resident should ensure that the nature strip does not become:

  • Unsafe or hazardous to pedestrians and other road users
  • Unsightly or detrimental to the general amenity of the neighbourhood.

You are not required to obtain a permit to re-seed an existing grass nature strip, however you must obtain a Works in Road Reserve permit before installing instant turf on a nature strip.

For details on how to carry out any excavation works within a road reservation visit Works in Road Reserve webpage.

Nature strip garden guidelines

While grass remains the City of Whittlesea’s default nature strip surface treatment, Council supports the modification of nature strips and encourages residents to establish a garden within the nature strip adjacent to their property.

In order to ensure that residents can express themselves through a nature strip garden without affecting the function and safety of the wider road reserve, the Nature Strip Garden Guidelines have been developed with the help of Whittlesea’s community to provide direction for the planning, establishment, and maintenance of nature strip gardens.

Residents in urban areas that are located on Council managed public roads can apply to plant native grasses, flowers, small shrubs, or edible crops (in planter boxes) in accordance with the requirements of the guidelines.

To see if your property is located on a Council managed public road, visit the Register of public Roads on Road Management Plan webpage.

If your property is not located on a Council managed public road, you will need to contact VicRoads.

If your property is located on a Council managed public road, you can view the Quick Reference to see if a nature strip garden is for you, however,  it is strongly recommended that you read the full Nature Strip Garden Guidelines prior to submitting your application in order to understand your roles and responsibilities and to give your application the best chance of success.

The Nature Strip Garden permit attracts a fee of $65 which is used to recover costs associated with the administration and assessment of an application, and the inspection of newly established nature strip gardens. The fee is charged following approval of an application and must be paid before a permit is issued.

Permit Application Form

Frequently asked questions

The new Nature Strip Garden Guidelines include a range of changes that residents will be able to make to the nature strip adjacent to their home, including the ability to plant additional plants, shrubs and edible crops such as vegetables. A complete list of suitable materials is outlined in the guidelines.

To ensure that any changes made to nature strips do not pose a risk to pedestrians and road users or cause damage to assets, street trees or stormwater systems, some modifications will not be allowed. This includes synthetic grass and plants, compacted crushed rock or sand, pebbles, stones or rocks, retaining walls, ornamental statues or spiky plants. A complete list of items not suitable for nature strips is outlined in the guidelines.

Synthetic surfaces such as grass, do not generally provide adequate drainage and can lead to issues with the soil and stormwater run-off. In addition, synthetic grass generates surface heat, particularly in the hotter months of the year. Our goal is to create a liveable and climate-resilient future, with greater tree canopy to provide shade and cooling to our streets. Synthetic grass does not help us meet these future community goals.

The guidelines allow the use of crushed rock or sand in conjunction with plantings in the nature strip. However, under the guidelines, the use of crushed rock/stone or compacted sand cannot be used across the entire nature strip. Larger areas of compact material can impact water absorption, reducing the amount of water available for street trees while increasing storm water run-off and the potential for flooding, and can damage the root system of street trees. In addition, it has been observed that nature strips that are covered entirely in compacted material are more commonly used for off-street parking. Under the Victorian Road Safety Road Rule 197, it is illegal to park on a nature strip.

We understand that there are residents who have installed synthetic grass or compacted sand/stone on their nature strip with a valid permit in line with the requirements of the previous Urban Nature Strip Guidelines. These residents will be able to keep this surface in place, as long as it continues to be maintained in accordance with the original guideline requirements which state that:

  • synthetic grass must be green and properly secured with no loose edges 
  • it must form an even surface that is level with all surrounding infrastructure such as kerbs, footpaths and vehicle crossings, and
  • it must be kept free of weeds and contained within the nature strip area at all times.

The soil in nature strips is highly likely to be contaminated by vehicle traffic and other uses of the road reserve. To avoid potential risks associated with planting edible crops directly in a nature strip, edible planting will only be allowed in planter boxes. Planter boxes will also be subject to height and placement requirements to ensure safety of pedestrians and road users.

Residents will be required to submit a permit application that outlines the planned changes they would like to make to the nature strip adjacent to their home. If the changes meet the requirement of the guidelines, a permit will be issued. Once the modifications have been made, Council will inspect the works as a final step in the approval process.

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