Timber Press recently held a contest on their blog for the worst of hell strips. For the uninitiated, a hell strip is that part of your yard where nothing grows. It can be hit with too much sun, poor soil near pavement, frequent dog attention, drunken humans and a host of other maladies.

After careful consideration, I determined that I have three hell strips with three very different sets of criteria. Below are photos of mine. Click to enlarge any photos you want to see close up, carnage abounds.

Dogwalkers That Suck:
Hell Strip by Sidewalk in Front Yard

I finally roped this area off in a vain attempt to make it known to dog walkers that my yard is NOT a dog park. You can see how the arborvitae hedge no longer runs all the way to the sidewalk? Yeah, that's because the dog urine killed the first shrub. Now we have a giant weed tree of unknown type sprouting in its place.

I have the additional problem of mixed shade/sun as shown here. This area gets total shade until about 3:30 (in June) when part of it gets a blast of direct sun through the trees while the shrubs maintain a fully shaded section as you can see. Perfect for weed growing which seems to be the only thing that grows here.

Bowling Alley:
Hell Strip Along Neighbor’s New Sidewalk and in My New Clay Soil

About two years ago, my neighbor had a new sidewalk poured between our houses. Now my property extends exactly to the edge of his new sidewalk. The pouring of cement caused the soil in this area to turn into a grey clay. Fortunately, the parallel hosta row was already established and the sidewalk didn't kill it but now I can't really add anything without repairing the soil. Couple that with the sun/shade challenge you see here. In early May, this area is full shade. As the sun rises through June, we get this shady strip.

Garbage Man Can:
Hell Strip Between Our and Our Neighbor’s Garage

I didn't realize this area was a problem until a neighbor coordinated an alley clean up two weeks ago. Prior to the clean up, the dirt mound you see here was filled with 7-foot tall weeds and weed trees. I painstakingly pulled as many as I could without DH's help with the reciprocating saw but a lot of weed trees remain between the two garages. This spot is nestled between our and the neighbor's garages and became a collecting place for bagged dog shit and trash from the nearby 7-eleven. And you can't see it from the photo but there's a wood pallet still leaning against the garage and the garbage men evidently refuse to take it. The utility pole provides alley dog-walkers a spot to spa their dogs. I really didn't enjoy cleaning this area out, it stunk something awful and the soil is filled with broken glass and trash bits. Interestingly, there are other alleys in Oak Park that are beautifully landscaped and I just don't know how they do it. Car exhaust, dogs and other critters, trash. It's a challenge.