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Some people call it the “hellstrip”: that narrow patch of space between the sidewalk and the street. For homeowners, it can be a headache: you want it to look attractive, but it takes the brunt of road dirt, foot traffic, and doggy visitors, which can make maintenance difficult. One of our design clients asked for a solution for her hellstrip, which happens to be in a busy neighborhood. Nothing, not even grass, would stay alive in the poor soil.

Samantha, the Home Outside designer who created the client’s property plan, designed this good-looking, low-maintenance alternative. An existing palm tree remains in place, but the bare dirt is replaced with permeable brick paving. Raised planters can be filled with good soil and compost to keep roots healthy, and their height means canine traffic won’t harm the plants.

When designing a permanent “hellstrip” solution, just be sure to check your local ordinances first. You usually have to accept that the city has the right to dig up the area if needed to access pipes or utilities.