Hot Off the Press: Hellstrip Gardening

This review originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Northern Gardener.

hot off pressConsider yourself lucky if you’re not familiar with the term hellstrip. It’s one of the names urban gardeners use to describe the land between the street and the sidewalk. Until recently, most such areas were somewhere on the spectrum between worn sod and weed patch. But the less-lawn revolution has swept through many boulevards, leaving gardens in its wake. One of the revolutionaries leading the charge is Evelyn Hadden and in Hellstrip Gardening, Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb, she urges us to take over more ground.

Hadden also wrote Beautiful No-Mow Yards and her devotion to lawn-free living is obvious and admirable. She makes a good case for it in the Introduction and, unfortunately, keeps making it until it starts to sound a bit worn.

The book is divided into four sections: Inspirations, photos and descriptions of creative curb gardens from across the country; Situations, advice for typical challenges that arise; Creation, doing the actual dirty work; and Curbside-Worthy Plants, a photo-filled catalog of more than 100 options for your trouble spots.

In addition to information on improving soil and habitat, Hadden writes about dealing with nature (too much water or too little) and humanity (legal restrictions and rude passersby). The Inspirations section has delightful stories about real gardeners and interesting photos of real gardens, including two gardens from Minnesota.

Hellstrip Gardening is available in the MSHS Bookstore.

—Julie Jensen