Melissa explores Melbourne’s green laneways

Genius garden ideas for your own alley!
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Urban centres are known as concrete jungles for good reason; there’s often a lack of nature. But tonight, Melissa’s exploring some of Melbourne’s famous laneways that are bucking the trend and greening up those bland concrete and brick walls with a variety of plants and innovative planting styles.

WATCH: Melissa explores Melbourne’s green laneways

Fix that troublesome spot in your garden – say side passage that is too shady or windy – with inspiration from Melbourne’s iconic lanes. Once glum, grim and grisly, they still had enough character for imaginative souls to turn them into bustling, creative commercial and artistic hubs and innovative inner-city digs.

Street art and plants in Melbourne laneway
Cracked concrete may be an eyesore to you, but some small creeping plants, such as the native violet or dichondria, it’s an opportunity. Artwork by n2o (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

Now they’ve added a third dimension. Greening the laneways has breathed now life into these dark, dank nooks. And they present a wealth of ideas for you to transform that corner you’ve put in the best-be-forgotten basket, including amazing murals – a great project for a budding artist.

Take inspiration from these gorgeous laneway gardens

Melbourne green laneway
Artwork by Mike Makatron (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

1. Sometimes you can cheat a bit! Treat your walls like blank canvases and paint the facade of an old building on them, adding extra foliage to create the illusion your little potted garden is bigger than it really is. Add a flash of silver to your garden by repurposing an old bin- don’t forget the drainage holes!

Green wall on Melbourne building
(Credit: Simon Griffiths)

2. Take a few tips from Melbourne’s popular four-storey Loop Green Wall, such as window boxes dripping with shade-loving ferns or making an outdoor curtain from the many trailing varieties of rhipsalis. Climbers take up little space but you can add volume in higher places with epiphytic plants.

Melbourne green laneway
Artwork by Manda Lane (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

3. When space is limited and there’s only room for a couple of plants, add a botanical-themed outdoor decal to your walls. The impact is huge by plant care is low! You can order custom decals from online suppliers.

Melbourne green laneway
(Credit: Simon Griffiths)

4. Choose plants that are tough or flexible enough to survive the wind tunnels that are often created within narrow accessways. Wind warriors include monstera, philodrendron, banana trees, yuccas or ornamental grasses such as lomandra or carex. 

Melbourne green laneway

5. Many plants need something to climb up. Take advantage of a drainpipe or a conduit from a power box, or run a length of wire rope down the wall. 

(Credit: Simon Griffiths)

6. Hang a cluster of elkhorns high on a wall by attaching them to a board with strong, plastic-coated wire. They’re epiphytes so don’t need soil to thrive, driving enough nutrients and water from the air to grow big and plump and make a dramatic statement.

Melbourne green laneway
Artwork by Kambeeno. (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

7. A little window that won’t be missed indoors can be boarded up to become a striking canvas for art. Then, use the ledge for a smart-looking planter for shade-loving plants and graceful ornamental grasses.

Melbourne green laneway
(Credit: Simon Griffiths)

8. Make use of old rusted bits of wrought iron or other ‘junk’ you may have lying around to which you can attach a small collection of pot plants. Quirky recycling can lighten and brighten a narrow, dark spot.

Pick plants for shade and wind

For bare brick walls

  • Climbing fig
  • Boston ivy

For walls with support

For mounting on walls or fences

Plectranthus (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

For big planters

  • Philodendron
  • Monstera
  • Ferns
  • Umbrella plant
  • Palms such as kentia
  • Weeping fig
  • Fatsia
  • Plectranthus
  • Ornamental grasses
Japanese fatsia
Japanese fatsia (Credit: Simon Griffiths)

For window boxes

  • Geranium (part sun)
  • Coral bells
  • Succulents

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