Four greening project ideas for laneways and communal areas

24 July 2023

Imagine that drab stretch of concrete near your apartment or business transformed into a lush oasis with cheerful flowers, hanging vines or a mini orchard. We want to help make your greening ideas a reality.

Adding plants and trees to laneways and communal areas brings people together, cools the city and supports native birds and insects. Great outcomes can be achieved in the tiniest or most unlikely spots, and even above your head.

Here are a few ways residents and businesses can spread joy by turning grey to green:

1. Potted flowers and plants on the footpath

Grow native plants, herbs and leafy foliage to create a sensory oasis amid the bustle of the city. Choose hardy, climate-conscious species and consider vegies and herbs to create a mini community garden at your door.

2. Climbing plants, window planters and hanging floral baskets

No space for pots or planter boxes? Think vertical. Plants that creep up walls and cascade over windows can boost city biodiversity and create the feeling of walking through an urban jungle.

3. Green wall systems, roofs and facades

Get expert support to ensure more complex designs are weight-bearing, waterproof and environmentally sustainable. Consider recycled materials and rainwater irrigation. Learn more in the Growing Green Guide.

4. Something entirely different

Think outside the box. Even surfaces with steep slopes, limited access or deep shade may have the potential for greening. Brainstorm with your neighbours or body corporate and speak to your local nursery or a landscape designer to plan your greening proposal.

Meet Darren from Davisons Place

Darren Morgan lives in Davisons Place in Melbourne’s CBD. He led his neighbours on a journey to green a drab communal laneway with new plantings, delighting people and boosting biodiversity.

“Greening projects are an all-round feel-good idea. Our residents enjoy seeing flowers and different foliage and, in time, the plants will also help to keep our building cooler.” Darren said.

“Whilst our laneway planting is young we are already seeing native birds return, and as the plants grow we believe there will be a further increase in native birds to our laneway. We are also starting to see bees for the first time.”

Darren (right) and his neighbours enjoy their handiwork

Local residents of all ages are keen participants in the laneway greening project at Davisons Place. Just four months since the planting, Darren said the painted concrete wall already seems “softened” and there’s talk of adding more pots.

“There has been zero negativity, which is a rare commodity these days,” Darren said.

“Residents who, in the past, would just walk by now stop and chat about the plants, and this is leading to a friendlier environment. We also see visitors to the area, including photographic groups, stop and walk up our laneway to admire the plants.

“Council staff are genuinely keen to see this program succeed. They kept us updated on the progress of our application and have regularly followed up to see how our plants are going.”

How to make it happen

Pitch us your idea for a greening project in (or overhanging) a public space and one of our greening experts can give you advice on how to get started. To learn more, visit Greening Melbourne Permits.

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