Here is a fun garden profile called the "Dino Garden! Its located in my brother's Saint Paul boulevard and for 3 years, neighborhood kids make this little patch of vegetation a destination on walks. Kids and parents stop to find hidden dinosaurs and play with them, and occasionally parents even have to avoid this block because they are too engrossed in dinosaurs for time allotted. Even adults without kids pass with a smile. The complement of shade tolerant plants that my brother has included only adds to the prehistoric effect- ferns, solomon's seal, hosta, fairy candles, and sedges.
This is a great example of placemaking. As defined by Project for Public Spaces, "Placemaking is not just the act of building or fixing up a space, but a whole process that fosters the creation of vital public destinations: the kind of places where people feel a strong stake in their communities and a commitment to making things better." As demonstrated by this boulevard, placemaking does not have to only happen in public squares or municipal gateways. Positive outcomes in the case of the Dino Garden include an ever-changing community expression that adds beauty, traffic calming and community building as neighbors find reason to pause and ask questions and even investigate. Most of the Dinosaurs are still on duty after 3 seasons in the garden, not many have been lost or stolen. Compare how well this space is functioning to previous longstanding life as unnoticeable lawn.
Boulevards are of course city property and cities have restrictions on what you plant and you should take steps not to create a stormwater runoff issue. At the same time, they are a great space to be creative, improve your tree's health, and make your street more inviting. A practical boulevard garden guide from Metro Blooms can be found here.
Photo Credit: Amanda Hankerson