A road verge is a strip of grass or plants, and sometimes also trees, located between a roadway (carriageway) and a sidewalk (pavement). Verges are known by dozens of other names, often quite regional; see Terminology, below.
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.
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 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.
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.
Terms used include:
- Berm: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Zealand
- Boulevard: Detroit, Michigan; North Dakota; Minnesota; Iowa; Illinois; Ohio; Wisconsin; United States Upper Midwest; Winnipeg, and western Canada; ; Toronto, Ontario; Markham, Ontario; Kitchener, Ontario
- Boulevard strip: U.S. Upper Midwest
- City grass
- Common: New England, generally describes a large strip of grass. Also refers to park-like common-use green spaces in small town centers.
- Curb lawn: Kalamazoo, Michigan; Elyria, Ohio; Miami County, Ohio; Greenville, South Carolina
- Curb strip: New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington
- Devil strip or devilstrip: Akron, Ohio; Northeast Ohio. This term was once used more widely to refer to the space between tracks on a streetcar line, a space not wide enough to stand in as cars passed.
- Extension lawn: Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Furniture zone, also planter/furniture zone or landscape/furniture zone: a term used by urban planners, indicating its suitability for "street furniture" such as utility poles and fire hydrants, as well as trees or planters
- Government grass
- Grass bay: New Jersey
- Grassplot: East Coast of the United States, Pennsylvania
- Green belt
- Island strip: Long Island, New York
- Median: Washington, Oregon
- Nature strip: Australia[unreliable source?]
- Neutral ground: U.S. Gulf states
- Out lawn
- Park strip: Ohio
- Parking: Illinois, Iowa, Western United States
- Parking strip: Washington, Oregon, Utah, much of California
- Parkrow: Iowa, Oregon
- Parkway: Greater Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, West Coast of the United States, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, Texas
- Parkway strip: Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colorado
- Planter zone: SmartCode/New Urbanist terminology
- Planting strip: Berkeley, California, Seattle, Washington
- Right-of-way: Wisconsin, Illinois
- Road allowance: Ottawa, Canada
- Road reserve
- Road verge: Australia
- Roadside: Australia
- Sidewalk buffer
- Sidewalk lawn: Georgia
- Sidewalk plot: Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Tennessee
- Sidewalk strip: California, Oregon, Utah, Washington
- Snow shelf: Connecticut
- Street easement
- Street lawn: Ohio
- Swale: South Florida
- Terrace: U.S. Great Lakes region, Missouri
- "That Narrow Strip Of Grass Between The Sidewalk And The Street": Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Tree belt: Massachusetts
- Tree lawn or treelawn: Ohio, Indiana, New York, and elsewhere
- Utility strip
- Verge: UK, New Zealand, South Africa Western Australia
- Yard sample
Sustainable urban and landscape designEdit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A curb strip in suburban Greater Boston, Massachusetts. Outside of rural areas in New England, devil strips are narrow – the one pictured is 52 inches (130 cm; 1.3 m) from curb to sidewalk. They are usually not maintained by the municipality, but rather by the property owner, and are used primarily to provide space for utility poles.
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