How do I start a community growing space in my local area?

Starting a garden on public land is fun, safe and a great way to connect with your local community.

You can do this through our Community Growing Spaces program.

Your community growing spaces may be:

  • a laneway pop-up garden
  • a planter box
  • a nature strip garden, or
  • fruit and nut trees

These spaces are tended and cared for by you, the community, with support from us.

With all of our community growing spaces we encourage a minimum of 3 households to work together to form the garden and support one another along the way.

You will need to attend a workshop prior to applying for a laneway pop up garden, planter box or nature strip garden.

To register your interest in the next workshop or for further information contact us on 9205 5555 or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au 

Can my community get a planter box in our street?

Some streets in Yarra have enough space for a planter box on the footpath or in unused parts of the road. You must consult us before starting a community growing space.

To determine if your street is suitable for a planter box, there are a few things that you need to consider:

  • pedestrian movement
  • parking
  • visibility
  • street sweepers

Things to consider

Distance from services

A planter box must be located a minimum distance of 0.5m from service infrastructure, such as:

  • water
  • electricity/power
  • street cleaning
  • rubbish/recycling collection
  • emergency services (fire hydrants, emergency panels)

A planter box must not be located between infrastructure and a property or boundary line, for example between a public seating bench and the property line.

Distance to intersection

A planter box cannot be installed within 7m of an intersection. This maintains visibility for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists entering an intersection.

Distance to kerb/footpath

A footpath planter box must maintain a 0.4m buffer to the edge of any kerb and maintain a minimum footpath width of 1.5m from the property line directly across the footpath, clear and unobstructed.

A planter box in a road reserve

The legal requirements for planter boxes on the road reserve are different for each location.

Please consider the following:

  • Have you maintained clear lines of sight for other road users including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists when locating your planter box?
  • Will the combined height of your planter box and plants reduce visibility for other road users including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists?
  • Have you left enough space between your planter box and the back of kerb to accommodate street cleaning?

A planter box next to parallel parking

As a guide, the following heights and setbacks will apply:

  • Minimum width of 1.5m from the property line is clear for the footpath.
  • Minimum height of 1.1m for planter boxes (including plants) for visibility when parking.
  • Minimum clearance of 0.4m between your planter box and the back of kerb to allow car doors to open and accommodate street cleaning.
  • Minimum length of 6m is retained for each car space.

A planter box next to angle parking

As a guide, the following heights and setbacks will apply:

  • Minimum clearance of 0.4m between your planter box and the back off kerb to allow car doors to open and accommodate street cleaning.
  • Maximum height of 1.0m for planter box (including plants) to enable visibility for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

We carefully consider site selection prior to the granting of the Urban Agriculture Agreement.

For specific site considerations speak directly with the Urban Agriculture Facilitator.

How do I apply for a planter box?

1. Attend a workshop

If you would like to apply for a planter box please attend a workshop prior to submitting your application.

Workshops are generally held twice a year and will include a review of the application process, and a talk from an expert in the field, as well as an opportunity to meet with your fellow gardeners.

Dates will be announced on our What's On calendar several weeks prior to the event.

2. Seek approval

Once you have established if your location is suitable, consult with your neighbours and seek their permission for your proposal.

All of your neighbours within 25m of the proposed planter box must be consulted with a minimum of 85% in agreement with your application.

Any objections over this threshold will be considered on their merit.

As a part of this process you can also encourage your neighbours to join your project and start their own garden.

3. Submit your agreement application

Applications for planter boxes, nature strip gardens and fruit and nut trees are required to submit an online application.

  1. Download the application form. You will need to draw the diagram and complete the neighbourhood survey sections and scan and save to your hard drive to upload when submitting your application.
  2. Read our application user guide  to help with submitting an online application, creating a new login and resetting your password.
  3. Submit your application online
  4. You will receive an application number and it will be sent directly to our Urban Agriculture team for processing.
  5. You will be notified once your application has been processed and if approved you will be invoiced for the fee.
  6. A copy of the agreement with council will be sent to you and will be valid for 12 months. A renewal will be sent to you at the end of that period.

Once your agreement application has been submitted your project will be formally assessed by our team for suitability of the proposal.

Your agreement will last 12 months. After the 12 months, you will be contacted by us to see whether you would like to continue.

What does it cost?

There is an annual fee for all planter boxes which contributes to administration, monitoring, materials and insurance for the program. Please contact us to find out more.

There is no fee for unsuccessful applications. 

We provide public liability insurance, but if there is a claim against the planter box you will be responsible for paying the excess. 

What are my responsibilities?

We will provide you with a planter box as part of the agreement, however, you will need to provide the soil and plants to go into the box.

All participants must maintain their planter boxes and the area immediately surrounding them.

It is your responsibility to consider the public amenity of your garden and ensure that it contains plants, whether they be cover crops or edibles, at all times (we acknowledge that there may be some brief done times between seasons). 

If the planter box and the surrounding area is not maintained your planter box may be removed.

Planting ideas: 

Edibles for a shady or sunny position

Herbs and flowers for shady or sunny position

Edibles for a sunny position only

Herbs and flowers for sunny position only

Anytime

Silver beet

Spinach

Rocket

Mesclun mix

Asian greens

Lettuce

Kale

Spring Onions

 

Autumn

Rhubarb

Lemon verbena

Anytime

Chives

Garlic chives

Coriander

Parsley

Mint

Vietnamese mint

Nasturtiums

Borage

Sorrel

Tarragon

Wasabi

Anytime

Radishes

Carrots

 

Spring

Zucchini

Tomatoes

Sweet potato

Beans

Jerusalem artichokes

Globe artichokes

Potatoes

 

Autumn

Asparagus

Broccoli

Brussel Sprouts

Bok Choy

Broad Beans

Peas

Garlic

Anytime

Thyme

Sage

Hanging rosemary

Pansies

Oregano

 

Spring

Basil

Marigolds

Sunflowers

 

Autumn

Dill

Laneways can be perfect locations to create a pop-up garden to share with your neighbours.

Below we have outlined what factors make a laneway suitable for gardening and the process for applying for a pop-up laneway garden.

Is my laneway suitable for a pop up garden?

To work out if your laneway is appropriate for developing a garden, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration first.

These factors are:

  • the existing use of the laneway
  • any vehicular or pedestrian access requirements
  • type of laneway
  • proximity to services
  • needs of access by property owners who live near the laneway

There are 3 main types of laneways found within Yarra.

By knowing the type of laneway, this can help you determine the suitability of a pop up garden in that particular laneway.

The 3 types of laneway are:

  • Laneway category type A - A laneway which is extensively used by abutting properties for regular vehicular access. Generally a pop up laneway garden will either be prohibited or in no way permitted to obstruct traffic or negatively impact adjacent community members
  • Laneway category type B - A laneway which is used by abutting properties for intermittent vehicular access to off-street garages or carports or other vehicular access. Consent or permission may be granted with conditions to ensure partial or occasional access to neighboring properties.
  • Laneway category type C - A laneway which is irregularly or not used by abutting properties for vehicular access to off street garages, carports or other access requirements. Consent or permission may be granted with conditions to ensure partial or occasional access to neighbouring properties can be provided as needed.

How do I apply for a laneway garden?

1. Attend a workshop

If you would like to apply for a laneway garden, please attend a workshop prior to submitting your application.

Workshops are generally held 2 times per year and will include a review of the application process, and a talk from an expert in the field, as well as an opportunity to meet with your fellow gardeners.

Dates will be announced on our What's On calendar several weeks prior to the event.

2. Seek approval

Once you have established if your laneway is suitable, consult with your neighbours and seek their permission for your proposal.

You must achieve a minimum of 85% approval from everyone with properties abutting the laneway before making your application.

As a part of this process encourage your neighbours to join your project and start their own garden.

3. Submit your permit application

Once your permit application has been submitted your project will be formally assessed by Council's internal teams for suitability of the proposal.

If successful you will be notified by our Urban Agriculture Facilitator.

Permits expire in September. We will send you a renewal notification at this time. 

There is an annual permit renewal fee of $50 payable in September. 

What are my responsibilities?

All permit holders must maintain their containers and the area immediately surrounding the garden.

If the area is not maintained your garden may be removed.

We provide public liability insurance, but if there is a claim against the garden, you will be responsible for paying the excess. 

Do I supply my own planters?

Yes, it is your responsibility to provide the containers for planting into and their contents as outlined in your proposal.

It is important that the planter you select is suitable to the surface where it will be placed, be that the laneway, a wall or other.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the container will not fall or in anyway harm a member of the public.

How do I register my existing laneway garden?

If you have an existing laneway garden which is not registered with us, you need to contact us. We are the managers of the roadways and need to know who is using them and for what purpose.

To register your garden contact Yarra City Council on 9205 5555 and ask for the Urban Agriculture Facilitator or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au.

The Urban Agriculture Facilitator will organise a site visit and work with you to determine what, if anything, is needed to comply with our permit process.


 

Can I have fruit trees in a public space near me?

Fruit and nut trees are another way to grow food in public spaces.

If you have a grassy or mulched garden area near you, this might be a good location for a fruit tree. Nature strips are generally not appropriate for fruit trees because of poor soil and low water availability.

Get in touch with us to discuss possible locations in your area.

How do I apply for a fruit trees?

The process for applying for fruit trees is the same as the process for planter boxes.

What are my responsibilities?

We ask that you maintain your fruit trees and the area immediately surrounding it, including watering, pruning and harvesting.

If the area is not maintained your trees may be removed.

We provide public liability insurance, but if there is a claim against the garden, you will be responsible for paying the excess. 

You are responsible for providing your own tools for maintaining the tree and the area around it.

Can I turn my nature strip into a garden?

Some nature strips in Yarra have potential for growing food. However, because of soil contamination, we do not allow people to plant directly into the site soil.

Each situation is different, so please contact us to discuss how your nature strip might be converted into a food garden.

How do I apply for a nature strip garden?

The process for applying for a nature strip garden is the same as the process for planter boxes.

What are my responsibilities?

We ask that all agreement holders maintain their gardens and the area immediately surrounding it.

If the area is not maintained your garden may be removed.

We provide public liability insurance, but if there is a claim against the garden, you will be responsible for paying the excess. 

Does my community group supply the materials for the garden?

Your community group will have to provide the soil and plants for a nature strip garden.

The supply of the other materials required is determined on a case-by-case basis because every nature stip garden is unique.