Keep the Heat Off the Street

If you’ve ever tried to maintain grass in the space between the sidewalk and the street, you know it’s practically impossible. But that doesn’t mean it has to stay unattractive and uninviting.

Known as the inferno strip, the area between the sidewalk and the street is bounded by heat radiating from asphalt and concrete. Still, that doesn’t mean it has to remain unattractive and uninviting.

Small trees would transform your inferno strip into a refreshing paseo and provide a welcoming frame for your landscape. Not to mention, that extra shade would be much appreciated by passing pedestrians.

One thing to note: the inferno strip is typically a utility easement, meaning any landscaping in the area is subject to removal or modification during street or right-of-way projects.

So plan thoughtfully before you begin transforming the area.

  • Call 811 to have in-ground utility lines flagged.
  • Follow CPS Energy’s design guidelines for tree selection and placement (pdf) near poles and wires.
  • Leave space for flagstones so visitors parking on the street can pass easily.
  • Select species that can thrive in your soil type and exposure with minimal water.
  • The spaces between trees can be dressed with mulch, gravel or xeric plants. Mountain laurelcrape myrtle and Texas persimmon are examples of trees that fit beneath wires and can withstand the hot and dry location.

When establishing your newly planted trees, hand watering remains the best way to water. Follow these simple steps to get your tree on firm footing for a long and happy life.

Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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