Since Auckland Council stopped paying for the grass verges/berms to be mowed in October last year the landscape of our streets has been changing in new and beautiful ways. Yes there are some scruffy roadsides (and as a Board we have been following up with Auckland Transport to maintain berms that have no obvious “owner”- the NZ Herald has reported on this today) but for the most part as I travel around the Waitematā area I have been impressed with what’s starting to grow and how well cared for our neighbourhoods are looking.
There have been other spin offs too. The bees and butterflies are new beneficiaries enjoying all the roadside food from the flowing berms (one of my neighbours has been leaving a patch of meadow grass for the bees). Maintaining the berms encourages neighbourly interactions as I have seen on my own road. My neighbour mows our berm as we don’t have a lawn mower. I took the opportunity to meet new neighbours when they were outside planting their berm. Other neighbours finally got talking again after a long running dispute.
It’s also made me appreciate how many residents have been proudly looking after their berms for many years despite it previously being a paid service (not surprisingly as the contractors often did a very poor job). It was only in the old Auckland City Council area that berms were mowed at ratepayer expense- the rest of Auckland can’t figure out what the fuss is about. I am all for Auckland Transport maintaining verges that are not getting looked after (usually for very good reasons) but I think we should enjoy, encourage and celebrate our new urban landscapes that have been liberated from expensive Council mono-mowing.
Alternative ideas for berm mowing – Auckland City Harbour News, 9 October 2013
Tips for planting bio-corridors – Grey Lynn 2030
Pimp my berm – berm planting in Elleslie on Seven Sharp 12 February 2014