One long side of my yard is bordered by a fairly busy road in southwest central Durham. When we first moved to the house six years ago, I came close to planting a row of broad leaf evergreen and deciduous shrubs for a quick privacy screen. I am sure it would have looked fine. But I am glad that I made another choice. By leaving room for perennials and some spaced out shrubs, I have been able to keep most of the good sun that this southern exposure offers. Five years later, I have gobs of stuff running and reseeding over both sides of my picket fence. This fall and spring I purposefully put some things in the drainage ditch (see the right-hand side of the picture above). I figured the runoff from the street could use a little filtration….and plus, I get tired of standing on a sharp angle with a weed eater. One of the most trustworthy natives for this type of location is the green headed, or cutleaf coneflower. It promises to be the standout flower for this roadside border come August.
For an interesting article on planting in the right-of-ways of an urban lot, check out Michael Tortorello's piece in last week's New York Times.