Road verge

A "parkway" with street trees in Oak Park, Illinois.

A road verge (also besidewalk, boulevard, city grass, devil strip, government grass, hellstrip, island strip, nature strip, neutral ground, out lawn, parking strip, parkway, planting strip, road reserve, sidewalk buffer, tree belt, tree lawn, utility strip, "green belt", verge, yard sample, etc.) is a narrow strip of grass or plants, and sometimes also trees, located between the carriageway (roadway) curb (or road surface edge or shoulder) and the boundary of a road.[1]

The land is often public property, with maintenance usually being a municipal responsibility. Some municipal authorities, however, require that abutting property owners maintain their respective verge areas, as well as the adjunct footpaths or sidewalks.[2]

Benefits include visual aesthetics, increased safety and comfort of sidewalk users, protection from spray from passing vehicles, and a space for benches, bus shelters, street lights, and other public amenities. Verges are also often part of sustainability for water conservation or the management of urban runoff and water pollution[3][4][5] and can provide useful wildlife habitat. Snow that has been ploughed off the street in colder climates often is stored in the area of the verge by default.

In some countries, verges are the last location of habitats for a range of flora.[6]

The main disadvantage of a road verge is that the right-of-way must be wider, increasing the cost of the road. In some localities, a wider verge offers opportunity for later road widening, should the traffic usage of a road demand this. For this reason, footpaths are usually sited a significant distance from the curb.


This term verge has many synonyms and dialectal differences. Some dialects and idiolects lack a specific term for this area, instead using a circumlocution.[7]

Terms used include:

Sustainable urban and landscape design

Planted rain garden in the "tree lawn" zone.

In urban and suburban areas, urban runoff from private and civic properties can be guided by grading and bioswales for rainwater harvesting collection and bioretention within the "tree-lawn" - parkway zone in rain gardens. This is done for reducing runoff of rain and domestic water: for their carrying waterborne pollution off-site into storm drains and sewer systems; and for the groundwater recharge of aquifers.[3]

In some cities, such as Santa Monica, California, city code mandates specify:

"Parkways, the area between the outside edge of the sidewalk and the inside edge of the curb which are a component of the Public Right of Way (PROW) - that the landscaping should require little or no irrigation and the area produce no runoff."[4]

For Santa Monica, another reason for this use of "tree-lawns" is to reduce current beach and Santa Monica Bay ocean pollution that is measurably higher at city outfalls. New construction and remodeling projects needing building permits require that landscape design submittals include garden design plans showing the means of compliance.[4]

In some cities and counties, such as Portland, Oregon, street and highway departments are regrading and planting rain gardens in road verges to reduce boulevard and highway runoff. This practice can be useful in areas with either independent Storm sewers or combined storm and sanitary sewers, reducing the frequency of pollution, treatment costs, and released overflows of untreated sewage into rivers and oceans during rainstorms.[31]

Rural roadsides

In some countries, the road verge can be a corridor of vegetation that remains after adjacent land has been cleared. Considerable effort in supporting conservation of the remnant vegetation is prevalent in Australia - where significant tracts of land are managed as part of the roadside conservation strategies by government agencies [27][32]


See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Street Trees / Tree Lawn". Worthington, Ohio. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  2. "Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access, Part II Section 10.1.3: Maintenance responsibilities". Federal Highways Administration. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  3. 1 2 "Passive Rainwater Harvesting". Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  4. 1 2 3 "Parkway Landscaping Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  5. "Pruning the Parkway Strip". Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  6. Briggs, Helen (6 June 2015). "Roadside verges 'last refuge for wild flowers'". BBC. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
  7. 1 2 John A. C. Greppin (2002-02-01). "The triumph of slang".
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Dictionary of Regional English vol. 6 (Harvard University Press, 2013), pp. 130-1.
  9. "Departments : Public Services : Public Works : Fall Leaf Collection". City of Kalamazoo. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  10. Rona Proudfoot (March 26, 2012). "Police find man dead in curb lawn". The Chronicle-Telegram. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  11. "Summer Tree Care" (PDF). City of Tipp City. June 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  12. "Who Do I Call?". City of Troy. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  13. "Design and Specifications Manual". City of Greenville. 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
  14. "Mr. Smarty Pants". The Austin Chronicle. 2000-12-29.
  15. Cassidy, Frederic Gomes; Hall, Joan Houston (1985). Dictionary of American Regional English: Introduction and A-C (6th ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-674-20511-1. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  16. Dyer, Bob (August 8, 2012). "Akron's Grass is One of a Kind". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  17. George W. Hilton and John F. Due (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-8047-4014-3.
  18. 1 2 "Who is responsible for the strip of land between sidewalk and curb? - HOA Forum -". Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  20. "Nature Strip". Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  21. Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Random House. 1997.
  22. 1 2 3 Guralnik, David B., ed. (1970). Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (Second College ed.). The World Publishing Company.
  23. "Xeric Parkway Strip". 2010-07-07.
  24. "Codes & Manuals". Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  25. "City of Ottawa - Roads". 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  26. "Road Verge". Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  27. 1 2
  28. Dickstein, Corey (2009-07-20). Sidewalk lawns now residents' responsibility. Savannah Morning News, 20 July 2009. Retrieved from
  29. "Urban Forestry - Adopt-a-Tree Program". City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  30. "Verge". Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  31. "Sustainable Stormwater Management". Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  32. Western Australia. Roadside Conservation Committee (1995), Roadsides -- the vital link : a decade of roadside conservation in Western Australia (1985-1995), Roadside Conservation Committee, retrieved 2012-04-14

External links

Look up road verge in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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