Landscaping on nature strips

Council's Landscaping Guidelines are in place to assist residents who wish to undertake landscaping within the nature strip adjacent to their property. One of the main considerations for a resident undertaking landscaping works is how their landscaping may impact on pedestrians and road users, particularly in relation to reducing sight lines or access.

The landscaping guidelines were developed to accommodate the Waterwise Naturestrip Program implemented by Riverina Water County Council in December 2011. Councils Road Reserve Policy was also updated at the time to allow for the implementation of the new guidelines.

Recognising that many residents had landscaped their nature strips before the new guidelines were implemented in December 2011, Council has developed a process for assessing if nature strips already landscaped were safe for pedestrians and cars.

Additionally, Council is also required to make sure it has a process in place to assess nature strip safety in order to comply with its risk insurance and fulfill its role as the authority responsible for the road reserve - which includes the nature strips as well as the actual roadway.

Council will take a practical, risk based approach in assessing non-compliant nature strips, rather than a regulatory approach.

This means that unless nature strips present a significant risk or hazard to pedestrians or cars the property owner will not be required to change their landscaped nature strips.

However, if a nature strip presents a high risk to the safety of pedestrians or cars the property owner will be asked by Council in writing to address the risk.

Broadly, what is not allowed?

Residents will be asked to fix up their nature strip if;

  • because of the landscaping, pedestrians can't walk along the nature strip and are forced to walk on the roadway
  • the vegetation on the nature strip stops people when they are backing down their driveway, from being able to see pedestrians that are walking along the footpath/nature strip or cars travelling down the road that they are backing into and potentially cause an accident.
  • the landscaping has trip hazards which could cause pedestrians to trip over and potentially hurt themselves.

If any one or more of these hazards exists, the owner of the property will be asked to rectify the hazard.

What if my nature strip is identified as non-compliant?

Residents will be given a reasonable amount of time depending on the risk to fix the hazard or if the hazard presents an immediate unacceptable risk to the public, Council may assist in making the area safe or removing the hazard.

If Council is required to remove the hazard because it presents an immediate unacceptable risk to the public and/or the resident is unable to rectify the hazard, Council may seek reimbursement from the party responsible for the hazard. This would be merit based and only likely to occur on very rare occasions if at all.

The Local Government Act also includes provisions for issuing penalty notices for non- compliance, but the issuing of penalty notices in respect to landscaped nature strips would be an absolute last resort and only implemented after all other opportunities for addressing the risk was exhausted.