Boulevard gardens

Learn about planning and maintaining your boulevard or cul-de-sac island garden. Remember to call before you dig!

On this page

  1. Call before you dig
  2. Plan and maintain your garden
  3. Stay safe while gardening
  4. Contact us

Important – call before you dig

There may be utilities or services underground that can't be seen from the surface. By law, you must call Ontario OneCall at 1-800-400-2255 before you dig:

  • you can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week 
  • there is no charge for this service

Individuals who damage underground utilities are responsible for all repair costs.


Plan your garden

Planting on city property

Boulevards and cul-de-sac islands can be good spots for gardens. Boulevards are between the property line or sidewalk and the street. Cul-de-sac islands, or buttons, are circular green spaces at the end of a dead-end street. 

Boulevards and cul-de-sac islands are important for:

  • keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe
  • housing essential infrastructure like gas, hydro, water, phone and internet
  • storing leaves and snow
  • garbage and recycling collection

Maintaining your garden

All gardens need ongoing care. Homeowners are responsible for planting and maintaining their gardens and following the guidelines below.

Make sure infrastructure is easy to access

Boulevard and cul-de-sac islands contain essential infrastructure that must be accessible at all times. Examples include:
  • gas, hydro and water, phone and internet
  • street lights, fire hydrants and hydro poles
  • bus stops and municipal signage
  • transformer boxes
Maintenance and utility work

The city, region, utility providers and contractors may need to do work, which can involve damaging or removing gardens:

  • it is not always possible to contact homeowners before starting
  • if work is done, we'll restore the area to soil and grass seed, or sod

Keep sidewalks, trails, driveways and roads clear

Boulevards and cul-de-sac islands are shared public spaces where people, pets and other animals roam freely. 

When planting your garden, remember to:

  • keep a 76 cm (2.5 feet) unplanted area between plants and any sidewalks, trails, roads, driveways and infrastructure
  • make sure plants don't grow higher than 76 cm (2.5 feet)
  • prevent plants or garden materials from spreading outside the garden
  • leave space for recycling, waste and leaf collection (don't store leaves on the road – it's not safe for cyclists)
  • keep flushing outlets clear (these are green boxes flush to the ground, about 3 by 3 feet)
Make sure plants don't obstruct visibility

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians need to see each other:

  • do not install borders or fencing around your boulevard or cul-de-sac island garden
  • all boulevard gardens must maintain daylight and driveway visibility triangles
  • trim or remove any plants causing visibility problems
Choose native, low-growing plants

Boulevards and cul-de-sac islands may have harsh soil conditions caused by snow, salt and pollution. Choose the right plants to have a safe and resilient garden. 

Plants

Remember to keep sidewalks, trails, roads and infrastructure clear and:

Trees
Decorations and maintenance
  • no astroturf
  • no large rock or armour stone
  • no irrigation systems
  • no permanent or semi-permanent structures or decorations like poles, benches, tables or BBQs
  • no items can extend over sidewalks, trails, driveways or roads, such as a string of lights or a hose

All boulevard and cul-de-sac gardens must follow city bylaws, including the Highway Occupancy Bylaw, the Lot Maintenance Bylaw and the Fencing Bylaw.


Stay safe while gardening

Be careful – boulevard and cul-de-sac island gardens are close to traffic. 

Stay visible

  • garden during daylight hours and when the weather provides clear visibility
  • garden when traffic is light rather than during busy commute times
  • wear a safety vest or other bright clothing when working in your garden

Stay alert

  • pay attention to passing vehicles, bicycles and scooters
  • work from the sidewalk side of the boulevard and not from the street
  • don't stand or keep equipment and materials on the road

Contact us

If you have any questions about boulevard or cul-de-sac island gardens, call us at 519-886-2310, TTY (for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) at 1-866-786-3941, or email roads@waterloo.ca.