Landscaping that strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street is a challenge. The area may not have access to supplemental water. The ground is compacted because of the construction. People have a tendency to use the strip as a shortcut. Keeping plants low enough so the vehicle operator's vision of pedestrians is unobstructed.
A seemingly simple solution is to have lawn in that strip. Grass is a good idea, but not grass that requires high maintenance, fertilizing and mowing. Ornamental grasses that grow no more than 24 to 36 inches high fit the bill. Vary the types and textures of the grass for interest. Plant low-growing blue fescue grass around the perimeter of the strip right next to the sidewalk and the street. Blue fescue grows to 12 inches high and 9 inches wide. Plant a taller grass such as purple moor grass, which grows to 36 inches in the center. The purple contrasts with the blue green of the blue fescue.
Species that are native to the area should do well by a street. They will endure with natural rainfall, so supplemental watering isn't necessary. Select several varieties that provide color and bloom all season long. Choose self-seeding annuals or perennials so you don't have to replant the space every year. Your local university agricultural extension should be able to tell you what wildflowers are native and perhaps even provide a source for seeds.
Roses are a good choice if there is enough rainfall or watering isn't a problem. The rose thorns discourage people from taking a shortcut through the strip and trampling the landscaping. Roses require rich soil and eight hours of sunlight. Amend the soil with lots of compost and mulch, or remove the soil to a depth of 12 inches and replace it with good topsoil. Choose a standard-size rose that grows to 36 inches. Miniature roses are a smart choice as well. The bushes grow from 24 to 26 inches tall.
If the strip is not too long or wide, a raised bed should work. The height will stop people from walking through the bed. Construct the sides of the bed from stone, bricks or wood. A height of 24 inches leaves room for plants that grow 12 inches high or so. Fill the bed with a variety of annuals and perennials or one kind of flower only. Petunias are a good choice because they bloom from spring through frost.