The maintenance of the humble nature strip can often create confusion between tenants (renters) and their landlords (rental providers).
Best described as the strip of land between a residential property boundary and the road, the median strip is owned by your local council.
But it is the responsibility of the resident/owner to ensure it is kept in a safe and tidy condition.
In the case of a strata complex, it may be the case that it is the responsibility of all owners to maintain the nature strip.
But checking the owners corporation’s plan of subdivision should determine if it is common property or within an individual owner’s lot boundary.
What is their purpose?
Besides providing a flat space for the collection of waste and recycling bins, nature strips usually contain a number of underground services (such as street lighting, gas, water, sewerage, phone and internet) and also permit sufficient space for opening car doors for foot, wheelchairs and pram traffic.
They also allow increased “line of sight” visibility for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians near driveways and at intersections or curves in the road.
They also deliver practical benefits, such as absorbing rainwater and softening the visual effect of the concrete surfaces around them, including roads, footpaths and driveways.
That’s why councils insist that nature strips remain fit for purpose and not deteriorate into a public eyesore.
What can be done with nature strips?
Some people choose to extend their garden onto the nature strip, but it varies from council to council if this is possible under local by-laws.
And for good reason.
If you’re considering constructing gardens, be sure to tread carefully as insurance issues could arise that may affect your liability if someone were injured as a result of unauthorised changes to the nature strip.
Needless to say, obtaining council approval would be prudent before proceeding with your grand plans. It’s likely there are permissible works, but structures such as box gardens, swings or treehouses are usually not allowed.
Keep in mind that utility companies may require access to the nature strip, but they are generally only required to backfill with soil and then seed with grass.
Should you be concerned about remediation work for your plants, mulch and gravel, it is best to deal directly with the utility company before they begin work.
Parking on nature strips is prohibited in most, if not all, areas as it may cause damage to the services below ground if there is subsidence.
It can also block pedestrian access and create trip hazards if rubbish or materials for recycling are left in place outside of the designated collection times.
It is the responsibility of the resident to rectify any damage on the nature strip.
If in doubt, contact your local council for further information.