Ordinance proposed to legalize gardens on street terraces

A "terrace" is City-owned land next to the street.  Usually, it's the portion between the street and sidewalk.

According to Isthmus, an ordinance amendment has been proposed "to make it possible for residents to plant gardens in their terraces. Part of the motivation for this amendment is to make legal what in many cases is already being done -- planting gardens and other edible or decorative landscaping in the city-owned land between the sidewalk and the street.

City staff will have to come up with some suggestions regarding the allowable height of plants and raised beds, for instance, but Rhodes-Conway notes that "it's a positive use of the space." And since it's being done anyway with apparently no ill effects from eating food grown in the terrace, it makes sense to legalize the practice.

Growing food on City land

Vegetable garden on a greenway across from Westmorland Park

The Department of Public Health has been pushing people to eat healthier food that they've grown themselves, but sometimes the only space available for gardening is in the terrace.

"It's a good step forward," says Rhodes-Conway. "More people want to grow their own food."

This, and a related ordinance to allow planting of fruit and nut trees in city parks, is being proposed by Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Terrace rain gardens

Terraces are good locations for rain gardens, because often sidewalks become small rivers during a storm.  

Terrace gardens can capture this runoff before it escapes down a driveway.  Runoff reaching the street carries dog waste and other pollutants to the lakes.  Terrace gardens help replenish the groundwater, and filter pollutants.

The most important detail for a garden on the terrace is to dig it down about six inches below the sidewalk, removing the soil.  Then, you may have to improve the soil by adding compost.  

If your garden is below sidewalk level, the water flows in, and you don't have to water as much.  In fall of the year, you can just leave the fallen leaves in the garden to enrich the soil.

Links to terrace gardens...

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