Let's make Merton greener together!
Merton Garden Streets is a volunteer-led initiative by local residents and businesses in the borough of Merton to make our streets greener.
The project began in 2021 and was inspired by Wandsworth’s Green the Grid project and run by volunteers from Merton's Climate Action Group. Merton Garden Streets is now delivered by Sustainable Merton, with some support from Merton Council, and led by local volunteers.
Through encouraging street and front garden planting, together we are improving community well-being and delivering important environmental benefits, such as increasing wildlife, improving air quality, and helping to prevent flooding.
There are three ways to get involved:
Core organising group - this is a group of volunteers that are helping the whole project to happen. Tasks include communications, marketing, logistics and project management, volunteer engagement or just a can-do attitude and willingness to do stuff.
Street Coordinator - a Street Coordinator aims to get households on their street participating and acts as a liaison between the organisers and the street participants. No skills are needed, only a willingness to knock on neighbours' doors and pass on information. Access to Whatsapp or Facebook will be helpful as this will be our main means of communication.
Resident - if you want to participate with hands-on support, but don’t want to be a Street Coordinator or in the core group, let your Street Coordinator know that you want to join in so that they can share information, seeds, plants etc with you. You can participate in your own street or another street.
Street Coordinators register their streets and liaise with residents to plan their planting day.
Merton Garden Streets will provide Street Coordinators with a Welcome Pack with promotional material and advice on what to plant and how.
Merton Garden Streets may be able to provide each street with a small quantity of plants and compost, however, we do encourage residents to use their own resources and share seedlings and plants where possible.
Each street will need to source the bulk of plants, tools and other materials.
Residents get together for a fun day of community planting. Street Coordinators, please send Merton Garden Streets ‘before’ and ‘after-planting’ photos.
Use the map below to see if your street is registered and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with your Street Coordinator. If your street isn’t on the map and you want to register it by becoming a Street Coordinator please complete this form to sign up.
The benefit of registering your street is that we can then support you with lots of guidance, free plants, soil and compost (limited supply) and access to the wider community that is participating.
We are looking for businesses to help sponsor this initiative. Sponsoring will give your business exposure to up to 1,000 households in Merton and an opportunity to get closer to our community.
If you/your business want to help you can either provide in-kind materials (plants, soil, timber etc) or cash to help with printing costs or even sponsor a street party.
Find out more about sponsoring by contacting us at email@example.com.
Here are a few general points to think about before getting started:
Overall we advise plants that are known to be good for pollinators/wildlife.
Consider a mixture of evergreen plants, perennials (plants that die back in winter but grow back each year) and annuals (don't come back the next year).
Choose plants that don't mind a bit of shade, poor soil and someone forgetting to water them for a couple of days.
Avoid spiky plants that will injure pedestrians, and very invasive plants that may be removed by Merton Council (e.g. ivy that grows up the tree).
Saxifrage – low growing, flowers in spring
Lavender – flowers attract bees
Periwinkle – very low growing, happy under trees
Pheasant's tail grass – goes red/brown in Autumn
Sweet woodruff – low growing spreading plant with little white star shaped flowers
Bugleweed or Ajuga – low growing spreading plant with blue/purple flower
Alchemilla mollis – insignificant flowers but lovely light green leaves which water sits on like jewels
Hostas – good in deep shade, big leaves and spikes of white flowers, can be attacked by slugs
Ferns – good in shade, most are perennial, a few are evergreen, pick smaller varieties
Salvia – huge family of perennials with scented flower spikes attracting bees
Sage – grey-green leaved herb
Daisies – big brother of the daisy chain flower, attract bees
Rudbeckia – big yellow and pink daisies including black-eyed Susan
Primrose – small with yellow or pink flowers
Wallflowers – flower in spring and may survive the winter
Ponytails grass – dies back in winter but comes back and spreads freely
Busy Lizzie – colourful, shade tolerant
Geraniums – a variety of colours, flower all summer
Lobelia – spreading mat of blue/purple flowers
Pansies – a variety of colours, will flower all summer if dead-headed
Petunias – trumpet shaped flowers in a variety of colours
Marigolds – yellow/orange flowers that do best in sun
Wildflowers – wildflowers are great for pollinators and biodiversity overall so please do give them ago but note that they do best in poor, nutritionally deprived soil.
Front Gardens are the best place to plant as you can look after the plants more easily.
Private front driveways where some paving could be removed, or planting edges incorporated into the driveway design are ideal spaces to add plants, as not only do they provide a habitat for birds and insects, but they also assist in preventing localised flooding due to heavy rainfall.
Window boxes, planters near your front door and hanging baskets can all contribute to making Merton Greener.
Accessible spaces around some tree pits may be used, but care must be taken to plant appropriate non-competing smaller plants and not to surround the tree base with hard or sharp edges, or loose stones as these could pose a hazard to visually impaired, disabled people or children. We want our trees to thrive, so please avoid climbers and ivy around tree bases.
Green verges can be an ideal place, but please ensure planting is limited to clumps of bulbs or plants and that access to footpaths and highways are not impeded.
If planting on any verges, please ensure that this does not prevent access to footpaths and consider planting in small clumps leaving some green spaces for pedestrians and pets.
Please bear in mind that many verges near footpaths have utilities running underground, such as water, electricity, gas and telephone or internet cables. Should access to the utilities be required, planted verges may unfortunately need to be dug up, often with little notice, especially if urgent or emergency maintenance is required.
If you are applying for a dropped kerb so you can park your car in front of your house, please consider leaving 20% or more of the space free of hardstanding as this could assist in water soaking away underground. Ideal permeable surfaces to include are borders for plants, gravel grids, a mix of paving and plants, or grass over grids.
Merton Garden Streets will provide waterproof flags to help utilities services and street maintenance teams to identify which areas have been planted. Street Maintenance teams will be provided with a list of planted up streets, however placing flags or signs in planted areas will be helpful and will also spread the word that we are greening up Merton.
Although it can look lovely, please do not add any hard surrounds or fence like structures around the tree planting as these could be a trip hazard and any sharp edges harmful, especially for those who are visually impaired or have disabilities and for children.
Grass verges provide an important service and need to retain the grass. If you want to plant up verges the Council would welcome the inclusion of bulbs into the grass that is already there.
The Council will do their best not to remove, cut or spray any obvious planting that is not causing an issue with health and safety or good street maintenance. To help the Council identify these, please ensure that you have informed one of the Merton Garden Streets organisers and where possible put a sign up.
If for some reason, you are no longer involved in planting the same area you planted last year, please consider asking a neighbour to take part in planting. If a street is no longer taking part at all, we would need to be informed so we can ensure the area is returned to the same state it was before and notify street maintenance teams.
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