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View Full Version : What is the name of the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street?


Ronald C. Semone
06-22-2007, 08:40 PM
When I was a kid, we called it the "parkin". I don't know if that was a regional name (Massachusetts) or a time-specific name (1940s), but I haven't heard it in about 50 years until the other day I ran across the word, used in the sense I have mentioned, in a book written in the 1930s. But on the other hand, I haven't heard any word used to refer to that strip of grass. What is it called today?

Shodan
06-22-2007, 08:41 PM
I read a list of terms for this in a college linguistics class, including "the devil's highway".

We always called it "the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street".

Regards,
Shodan

medstar
06-22-2007, 09:06 PM
Could it be "median"?

Ronald C. Semone
06-22-2007, 09:11 PM
Could it be "median"?
No, I always taken "median" to mean the grassy area in the middle of the road separating the lanes going one way from the lanes going the other way.

Hypno-Toad
06-22-2007, 09:11 PM
I've heard it called a "Nuisance Strip."

silenus
06-22-2007, 09:19 PM
I've heard it refered to as "the easement." You were responsible for its mowing and upkeep, but the city could do with it what it wanted.

David Simmons
06-22-2007, 09:19 PM
Where I came from it was called a terrace. According to Merriam-Webster that's not strictly accurate but it's close enough.

Q.E.D.
06-22-2007, 09:35 PM
I've heard it refered to as "the easement." You were responsible for its mowing and upkeep, but the city could do with it what it wanted.
An easement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easement) is a general term for any area of a property which gives usage rights to an entity other than the property owner. It is not specific to the area between a sidewalk and the street; that area is also not necessarily an easement.

brazil84
06-22-2007, 09:39 PM
I've heard it referred to as a "berm"

http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwhatdo.html

Exapno Mapcase
06-22-2007, 09:40 PM
This is one of those items that does not have one single term in general use, but a host of regionalisms. Around here it is called the "tree lawn."

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_lawn) gives a few other terms.

Sunspace
06-22-2007, 09:56 PM
We call it the "boulevard". The grassy strip between the lanes is a "median".

This usage of "boulevard" is separate but related to "Boulevard" in the name of a street; but a Boulevard is supposed to be a fancy street that has medians and boulevards.

Around here, a "berm" is an artificial mound of earth, often long and narrow and used to hide an industrial site or serve as a noise barrier. We also speak of berming the rear wall of an earth-sheltered house: piling dirt up against it to protect it from the weather.

Sarahfeena
06-22-2007, 10:19 PM
In my house we call it the "parkway," but I have no idea why, or if that's the right term for it.

KCB615
06-22-2007, 10:28 PM
I've heard it called the "gore," for what that's worth.

kambuckta
06-22-2007, 10:28 PM
In Australia (at least in Melbourne anyway) it's called a 'nature strip' and although the land is owned by the local municipal council/shire, you are responsible for mowing and keeping the land tidy. In many streets the council also plants trees and shrubs on the nature-strip and in that case, they are liable for the maintenance and pruning of the trees.

Brainiac4
06-22-2007, 10:35 PM
In Minnesota, it's a "boulevard" -- guess we're close to Canada linguistically, not just geographically. :)

Mr. Duality
06-22-2007, 10:40 PM
In the lawn care industry it's sometimes called "hell strip" because it can be more difficult to mow than the rest of the lawn.

A.R. Cane
06-22-2007, 10:42 PM
No civil engineers here? I think it's commonly referred to as a "planting strip" by planners and builders.

crowmanyclouds
06-22-2007, 10:58 PM
What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and the road? (http://cfprod.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_60.html)
a. berm (4.01%)
b. parking (1.75%)
c. tree lawn (1.92%)
d. terrace (0.73%)
e. curb strip (8.65%)
f. beltway (0.17%)
g. verge (2.56%)
h. I have no word for this (67.92%)
i. other (12.30%)
(10589 respondents)CMC fnord!

panache45
06-22-2007, 11:25 PM
It's the tree lawn. All the other words mean something different.

Duckster
06-22-2007, 11:28 PM
I don't have one anymore. I ripped up the grass and put in lava rocks. Minimal maintenance. Looks better, too.

It's my lava garden.

Civil Guy
06-22-2007, 11:39 PM
No civil engineers here? I think it's commonly referred to as a "planting strip" by planners and builders.
The entire width between the curb and the edge of the street right-of-way is called the "parkway" - here in So Cal, that is. Reference: Standard Plans for Public Works Construction, published by Public Works Standards, Inc. "Greenbook" Committee.

(The "Greenbook" is best known here as a set of standard construction specifications adopted by many of the local agencies.)

Sometimes - not always - the parkway is either partially or completely covered with sidewalk, and the rest is there for use as a planter area; no special term I can think of.

Cunctator
06-23-2007, 12:21 AM
In Australia (at least in Melbourne anyway) it's called a 'nature strip' and although the land is owned by the local municipal council/shire, you are responsible for mowing and keeping the land tidy. In many streets the council also plants trees and shrubs on the nature-strip and in that case, they are liable for the maintenance and pruning of the trees.It’s the same in Sydney, although in my suburb we rely on the local council to mow the grass because nobody owns a lawn mower.

tomndebb
06-23-2007, 01:55 AM
Yeesh! Over twenty responses to this question and no sign of samclem. It looks like we have to send out search parties for the body.

BobT
06-23-2007, 02:03 AM
The entire width between the curb and the edge of the street right-of-way is called the "parkway" - here in So Cal, that is. Reference: Standard Plans for Public Works Construction, published by Public Works Standards, Inc. "Greenbook" Committee.

(The "Greenbook" is best known here as a set of standard construction specifications adopted by many of the local agencies.)

Sometimes - not always - the parkway is either partially or completely covered with sidewalk, and the rest is there for use as a planter area; no special term I can think of.

Whew, I was hoping someone would say "parkway." That's what my dad always called it and he never liked the job I did mowing it. He generally didn't like any of my lawn mowing.

This did not help me get out of the job.

GuanoLad
06-23-2007, 02:56 AM
Speaking of parkways, why is it that we park on the drivew- OW! OW! Stop hitting me! Argh!

Lazlo
06-23-2007, 03:05 AM
My bro, who is a CE, calls it a devil strip. I have no idea whether that's the legit name or if he just prefers that term.

JustinC
06-23-2007, 03:06 AM
I always assumed 'verge' was universal, but it seems not.
(from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/verge)
British. a narrow strip of turf bordering on a pathway, sidewalk, roadway, etc.
A few years back, before the law was tightened up, it was generally the place where dogs took a crap.
I think 'nature strip' sounds like something a naturist would do, even though that would be an oxymoron. Tree lawn sounds nice and oasis-like, whilst parking reminds me of ... parking.

DrDeth
06-23-2007, 03:13 AM
I don't have one anymore. I ripped up the grass and put in lava rocks. Minimal maintenance. Looks better, too.

It's my lava garden.

Could be illegal.

I have heard it called "County strip but that was when we lived in (what else?) the unincorp area of the County and the strip belongs to the County (or City), YMMV.

tomndebb
06-23-2007, 03:29 AM
In the boondocks North of Detroit, when I was growing up, we called it the county's land. (I lived in a subdivision, but the street I lived on fronted a much older county road.) Later, when I lived in Detroit, we called it the tree lawn.

Rayne Man
06-23-2007, 03:44 AM
In the UK it's usually called the Verge

scotandrsn
06-23-2007, 04:04 AM
I've heard it refered to as "the easement." You were responsible for its mowing and upkeep, but the city could do with it what it wanted.

Technically, it belongs to the city. Imagine my surprise when I was using a rolling measure to map out some yard plans, and decided to measure my actual property lines. Going from back to front, I found the actual dimension that's on my purchase and sale paperwork stopped somewhat short of the street. Going off the official property map of the area, I found it said that the street (the portion of the neighborhood that belonged to the city as opposed to the parts that were private property) was 50' wide, but my measure said it was only 30' curb to curb.

The front 10' of "my" yard, and that of all my neighbors, is actually city property, technically part of the street. That's why they feel at ease pruning the jacaranda tree that grows there, and why, if they ever decided to, they could run a sidewalk through it without asking me. I'm the one who has an easement on their property to extend my driveway through it to connect it to the street, and they don't mind that my lawn extends to the curb as long as I keep it tidy like the part of it that's on my own yard.

jjimm
06-23-2007, 04:25 AM
In the UK it's usually called the VergeAs in the poem by Adrian Henri (I think):

Ode To A Female Motorway Service Station Pump Attendant

I wanted your soft verges,
But you gave me the hard shoulder.

Hari Seldon
06-23-2007, 08:13 AM
Grew up in Philly and we always called it the verge. I know someone who has an informal notebook full of regionalisms like this. One of the most diverse is what you call it when it rains while the sun is shining. In both Philly and Montreal, it is called a sunshower, but that is not widespread. Here in Montreal, we also have sunflurries, but I'm not sure I didn't make that word up.

twickster
06-23-2007, 08:27 AM
In both Philly and Montreal, it is called a sunshower, but that is not widespread.
What else could you possibly call that? :eek:

Re the OP: I usually call it an island -- in my gardening magazine, though, we call it "the strip between the sidewalk and the street" for clarity's sake.

An Arky
06-23-2007, 08:47 AM
I've heard it called the Utility Strip, since there's often little water main/gas main "manholes" in it.

TheLoadedDog
06-23-2007, 09:56 AM
In Australia (at least in Melbourne anyway) it's called a 'nature strip' and although the land is owned by the local municipal council/shire, you are responsible for mowing and keeping the land tidy. In many streets the council also plants trees and shrubs on the nature-strip and in that case, they are liable for the maintenance and pruning of the trees.

Actually, it's council land, and they are fully responsible for its upkeep, regardless of what's on it. This includes mowing it at reasonable intervals.

In reality though, the council gets around this by deciding that a reasonable interval is approx. once every 3457578 years. They will eventually get around to mowing it, but they count on the fact that the average home owner will not want knee-high grass out the front of their place, and will save them the trouble. You can get an idea of this by looking at the nature strips outside empty buildings. They get mown.... eventually.

ratatoskK
06-23-2007, 11:04 AM
I call it the verge, but nobody here knows what I'm talking about (Massachusetts). I grew up near NY City, so I don't know if it's a term used there or if I just read it in a book somewhere.

casdave
06-23-2007, 11:21 AM
I wonder is you folks use or understand the term verge in other contexts?

Verge is the word used in the UK for this, but its also used to describe other things that are a bit 'close to the edge' such as something that is almost but not quite dangerous is known as being 'on the verge of disaster', or perhaps you have used the term for near absurdity as 'verging on the ridiculous'.

We would usually call that strip near the road a 'grass verge' but if you do not use the word 'verge', for something nearing an edge, then what do you use?

Sampiro
06-23-2007, 11:23 AM
My family once laughed when we were on vacation and saw a sign somewhere out west asking drivers to "STAY OFF OF THE CENTER MEDIAN". When we asked somebody later about the redundancy of that term, they explained that the strip you're talking about is called "The Side Median" there, but unfortunately I don't remember where this was (other than West of the Mississippi).

Rayne Man
06-23-2007, 11:27 AM
Also there is the medical term "Anal Verge" which is defined as the opening of the anus on the surface of the body

Horologists use the term "Verge escapement" for a type of clock movement.

blondebear
06-23-2007, 11:38 AM
I've always called it the parking strip.

From the American Heritage Dictionary definition of parking:3. Upper Midwest & Western U.S. The grass strip, often planted with shade trees, between a sidewalk and a street. Also called ..boulevard strip,...grassplot, ...neutral ground,...parking strip,...parkway,...terrace,...tree belt,...tree lawn.

Elendil's Heir
06-23-2007, 11:51 AM
I'd never heard it called anything in particular, growing up, but here in Cleveland it's called a treelawn (one word). My understanding is that although you're responsible for mowing and maintaining it, the city can do whatever it wants with it during work on the adjoining road.

enipla
06-23-2007, 12:27 PM
There is the ROW (Right of Way) and the driven way. When a new subdivision is developed the roads (ROW) are deeded to the County or City (or other jurisdiction). The driven way is the pavement or gravel road. The ROW extends past this and is owned by the municipality in control.

If you where to look at a plat (the recorded deed of your subdivision) you will likely see that the width reserved for roads are wider than they actually measure. By about 5-10 feet on each side.

And then there are easements. Usually fronting a property’s ROW for utilites and such. And also down the side lot lines and rear.

samclem
06-23-2007, 07:10 PM
It's the tree lawn. All the other words mean something different. No, everyone is correct. It's whatever you call it in your location. And, as others have contirbuted, there are more than a few terms.

At the dopefest in Cleveland last month, we talked about the "unusual" name here in Akron. Many of you know it is called the "devil strip" or the "devil's strip." But even 30 miles North, in Cleveland, it is usuall called the "treelawn."

I'll try to post a bit more on this after I get some chores done.

A.R. Cane
06-23-2007, 07:19 PM
No, everyone is correct. It's whatever you call it in your location. And, as others have contirbuted, there are more than a few terms.

At the dopefest in Cleveland last month, we talked about the "unusual" name here in Akron. Many of you know it is called the "devil strip" or the "devil's strip." But even 30 miles North, in Cleveland, it is usuall called the "treelawn."

I'll try to post a bit more on this after I get some chores done.

Devel strip rings a bell. I went to H.S. in Cuyahoga Falls and I recall that term now that you mention it.

panache45
06-23-2007, 08:58 PM
No, everyone is correct. It's whatever you call it in your location. And, as others have contirbuted, there are more than a few terms.

At the dopefest in Cleveland last month, we talked about the "unusual" name here in Akron. Many of you know it is called the "devil strip" or the "devil's strip." But even 30 miles North, in Cleveland, it is usuall called the "treelawn."

I'll try to post a bit more on this after I get some chores done.
What I meant was that in some locations more than one of the terms is used, but not synonymously. We've always called it a tree lawn, but only if there's a sidewalk. If it's merely the side of the road (and usually a major road), with or without a sidewalk, that's a berm. And a tree lawn would usually have a curb, but a berm wouldn't.

jabiru
06-23-2007, 09:09 PM
I've always called it the verge. It's illegal to park there where I live but that doesn't stop most people.

BMax
06-23-2007, 09:10 PM
So it appears that I'm the only one who calls it the mow strip? As in, the city owns it, but I have to mow it.

And I'm lucky because I don't have one. The sidewalk comes right up to the street.

susan
06-23-2007, 09:12 PM
Verge. Or "the fucking easement." Or right-of-way. Or setback.

TheLoadedDog
06-23-2007, 09:14 PM
I've only called it the verge when the edges of the road are unpaved. A country road might have a verge, but a suburban street with guttering and a footpath won't.

jsgoddess
06-23-2007, 09:16 PM
Here it's the tree lawn or the curb strip. To me, a berm is the same thing as a shoulder on a road.

An Gadaí
06-24-2007, 11:21 AM
We use verge but I imagine if you did a poll lots of people wouldn't know what it was called.

Kozmik
06-24-2007, 08:33 PM
The grassy knoll. ;)

MrFloppy
06-25-2007, 07:24 AM
In the UK it's usually called the Verge

Agreed. Mine is a Verge because there is a Union Jack hanging off my front porch. :)

Always called it a verge.

cantara
06-25-2007, 09:55 AM
My terminology matches Sunspace, more than likely because we are just down the road.

The grass strip is the boulevard. This should not be confused with the boulevard type of street which is a wide street separated by a (typically grass or treed) median and has a boulevard at the curbs. I would call the street that has the median but no boulevard strips an Avenue.

A few years ago a Hamilton resident was given a parking ticket for parking on the boulevard. He was not impeding traffic in any way. When questioned, the city responded that it was city property and the parking regulations were clear. The resident sent a bill for maintenance (mowing) of the boulevard for the last x years. The city recinded the ticket. I can't find a cite for it though...

corkboard
06-25-2007, 10:22 AM
I've always called it the "sidewalk strip".

Kevbo
06-25-2007, 10:30 AM
I was raised in a house on a Boulevard. My family, and all the neighbors referred to this as the "parking". Suburb of Denver, if it is a regional thing. By the naming conventions of that town, the existence of these on a non-divided street made for a Boulevard, and the street was so named. If there was also a wide grassy median, then you had yourself a Parkway.

They were a pain in the butt for the homeowners. Ours never seemed to take water worth a darn. 40 years or so after it was built, the city finally Xeriscaped them, and they stopped looking like hell.

Acsenray
06-25-2007, 10:48 AM
I wonder is you folks use or understand the term verge in other contexts?

Verge is the word used in the UK for this, but its also used to describe other things that are a bit 'close to the edge' such as something that is almost but not quite dangerous is known as being 'on the verge of disaster', or perhaps you have used the term for near absurdity as 'verging on the ridiculous'.

It seem to me that in common American speech, the word "verge," when used, is almost always metaphorical, as in "I am on the verge of losing my shit." I think "verge" used literally would probably be understood, but it's not common.

Uvula Donor
06-25-2007, 10:54 AM
Where I grew up in Western Mass, it was called the "treebelt."

Chronos
06-25-2007, 03:13 PM
Huh, and all this time I thought that the British usage of "verge" referred specifically to a hedgeline or other shrubbery growing right up next to the road, possibly with a stone wall right behind it. I guess it's more general than that.

Meanwhile, I suspect that the Akron usage of "devil strip" must be the smallest-area regionalism found in any U. S. dialect. As samclem and elmwood alluded to, that term is essentially unheard-of in Cleveland (where I agree the standard term is "tree lawn").

lowbrass
06-25-2007, 03:37 PM
My family always called it the "parking strip", and I had no idea until this day that it wasn't a universal term.

StinkyBurrito
06-25-2007, 03:52 PM
It's a Devil Strip dang it. I mowed grass in Akron for 5 or 6 years and it was always a Devil Strip. I can't imagine not having a name for it. It was one of the most commonly used work phrases while I was there. Such as "You mow the devil strip while I weedwhack the backyard." I was baffled by the use of "treelawn" when I moved to Cleveland.

*stomps off to get a Galleyboy*

StinkyBurrito
06-25-2007, 03:58 PM
double post.

gigi
06-25-2007, 04:39 PM
Add me to the "I have no word for this" list.

ETA: but I'm glad I'll now know what the heck someone else means!

Kilvert's Pagan
06-25-2007, 07:16 PM
I was going to wade in to vote for "treelawn", but apparently we Cleveland natives are already well represented herein... :)

WoodenTaco
06-25-2007, 07:24 PM
I'm another "berm"-er here in New York.

Yllaria
06-25-2007, 07:45 PM
Civil Engineer. Public Works.

According to the City of Stockton's Standard Specifications, it's a Parkway. Of course that only matters in Stockton. The City does not presume to name things outside of the City. If it's a smaller, square opening, it's a tree well. There are different sidewalk/street cross sections for different types of street (see Standard Drawings 11A through 11H).

The City Right of Way (ROW) usually extends about 3 ft. behind the back of the sidewalk. That's also the preferred location of the Public Utilities Easement (PUE). Lots of people install fences, trees, bushes and/or hedges right against the back of the walk without checking to see where their ROW ends. If any construction is needed in the ROW, they get a rude surprise.

If you're installing any of the above, I'd recommend calling the Permit Center (or your local equivalent) and asking where your ROW ends. They'll recommend that you get it surveyed, but if pressed will mention that it looks like it's about X feet from the back of the walk, the back of the curb, or the center of the street, depending on when your street was developed and what landmarks are available. It might even be at the back of the walk. It usually isn't, but there are a few streets where it is.

-------------------

"Anal Verge" . . . "Verge escapement"

Now I'm going to think "Verge escapement" whenever someone farts. Thanks, Rayne Man. (That's not sarcasm, by the way. I've written two different limericks about my youngest son's farts.)

ZenBeam
06-26-2007, 12:50 PM
We call it the "lawn extension", but that seems to be very local. Googling "lawn extension", the top relevent hits are all from Washtenaw county, MI.

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