Instructions for street planting

With only 15 days to go now, I’m using this weekend to sort out plants and seeds, next weekend to prepare my site, then with Friday the 18th free to put my plants onto their site…. These amazing guidelines have been put together by Diana Weir (and approved by our Council arboriculturist). They are  key guidelines for any of us ready to get involved!


Renovating existing street planting areas, under trees and shrubs


– de-litter (recycling where possible);

– weed thoroughly with a small pointed trowel (ensure that you get all the weed roots out!);

– gently scratch up the surface of the earth (such as it is: there may be almost none) with hand tools;

– soak the ground, then apply the thickest possible mulch of compost mixed with clay soil or topsoil and soak that thoroughly; brush it all back onto the planting site and keep watering and sweeping it back into place until it stays put;

– plant into the mulch with herbaceous perennials, spare bulbs and rapid-growing annuals; and

– keep watering around (not on) your plants.

EQUIPMENT you will need

1. To prepare your site:

• rubber gloves (street plantings are fouled by foxes and under-controlled dogs etc, so take care not to work with bare hands);

• recycling box – for recyclable human rubbish;

• plastic bags – for any animal waste (put in nearest dog bin) and for weeds (compost or put them in your brown garden waste bin);

• trowels and hand fork (use hand tools only: tree roots are very vulnerable to damage, so absolutely NO digging!) and

• watering can (no hosepipes allowed at present) to soak the cleared ground and then water it at every stage;

2. For collecting and applying the free compost etc that we’ve organised for this project:

• heavy-duty bags (for builders’ rubble or compost) to take it to your planting site in;

• shovel to fill bags with compost and put it onto your tree pit (lay it on several inches thick);

• suitable transport (car, wheelbarrow, luggage trolley etc) to get it to your site;

• rake to level compost over site; and

• broom to sweep compost into place after watering in;

3. If the mulch just won’t stay in place, mix in topsoil and/or clay soil to make it stickier OR make a temporary soft edging with:

• heavy cardboard strips (e.g. from domestic appliance packaging): about 6” wide and slightly longer than the circumference of your site;

• several stout sticks: push them in around the edge of the site as supports;

• stapler or heavy tape to fix the cardboard ends together; and

• string, to hold it in place around the sticks. (The edging will slowly decompose from holding in the wet compost and will eventually compost down but the mulch will have settled by then, so there’s no need to replace this.)

SUITABLE PLANTS (Avoid using expensive, rare or noticeable plants which are too vulnerable to theft and vandalism.)

Herbaceous and rockery perennials e.g. achillea tomentosa, alyssum, aubrietia, arabis, armeria (sea thrift), campanula, dwarf dianthus, erigeron (daisies), euphorbia, geum montanum, iberis sempervirens, linnaea borealis, lewisia, lychnis alpine, lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny), oxalis, phlox subulata, rock polygonum, potentilla nitida or alba, primula, ranunculus (buttercup), saponaria ocymoides, saxifrage, sedum, sempervivum, silene (moss campion), verbascum dumulosum, viola, veronica prostrata or pectinata

Small ground-covering shrubs (but not hypericum or anything else that will compete for space with the tree roots) e.g. euonymus radicans, ivies, pachysandra, vinca minor

Bulbs (inconspicuous and low-standing ones): • spring-flowering e.g. small narcissi, crocuses, bluebells and small white alliums (which both proliferate madly); • summer ones e.g. oxalis, liatris, crocosmia, ranunculus asiaticus

Annuals (especially self-seeding* ones): e.g. anchusa, bellis (daisies), borage*, calendula*, convolvulus minor, eschscholzia, forget-me-nots* (myosotis), foxgloves, honesty (lunaria), iberis (candytuft), limnanthes*, mattthiola, nasturtium*, nemesia, dwarf nicotiana, nigella, poppies, portulaca, reseda ordorata(mignonette), dwarf rudbeckia, tagetes, thunbergia (black-eyed Susan), Virginia stock (malcolmia), viscaria, wallflowers, small zinnia (Try sowing rapid-growing annual seeds in the initial gaps between your plants for added effect.)


Ensure that you keep:

• clearing away litter (human and/or animal);

• weeding out unwanted plants; and

• watering around (not onto) the plants until well-established and then, whenever the surface dries out too much. Under-tree areas are rain-shadowed, so rain won’t usually do them any real good. (Bathwater is fine but take care not to splash the flowers – soap kills bees!)


Click to access tree%20pit%20planting%20leaflet1April11.pdf


A massive thanks to Diana Weir for this approved approach to street planting


One response to this post.

  1. Thanks, Miranda – the bank holiday weekend is clearly (despite the rain!) getting people out there and starting to tackle their chosen sites, so this is a really timely post. LondonWaste has donated a mass of free compost for this project, which is coming at the end of the week: watch out for the notification!


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