See You Later Alley-Gater?

June 2, 2010 by

Baltimore’s going greener behind closed gates. By gating some of the city’s approximately 600 miles of private and public alleys, many are being transformed into verdant kid-friendly urban gardens and social meeting spaces.

Residents hope that by gating and greening the alleys they will replace the garbage with gardens, and the vehicles with vegetables.

In 2007, the Gating and Greening Alleys Ordinance was passed. Alleys are eligible if the adjacent structures are mostly residential; the alley is no longer needed for through pedestrian or vehicular traffic; and the gating and/or greening will promote public health, safety or welfare.

Baltimore has been the primary pilot site for Ashoka’s Community Greens initiative, which according to Ashoka, “restores community to neighborhoods across the country, enhances the environment, and empowers citizens by integrating citizen-managed shared green spaces into places where people live and work.”

Community Greens intends to catalyze the development of shared green spaces within residential urban neighborhoods across the United States, calling these green spaces Community Greens. They promote adding usable green space to our cities by converting underutilized backyards and dysfunctional alleys into functional and beautiful shared green spaces that are owned, managed, and enjoyed by the people who live around them. Stay tuned.

Photos: The Washington Post


  1. Urban Dirt Girl said:

    This is such a great idea. We have alleys all over Chicago and the burbs though I think a lot of them are still used for cars etc. My neighbor down the street though makes hers garage so pretty with lots of pots. So much nicer than garbage cans!! I loved your piece on Paris. Like London, they utilize the tiny spaces they have and it makes the city lovely to look at. M

    — June 3, 2010 @ 12:42

  2. Edith Hope said:

    Dear Robin, Thank you so much for leaving a very kind comment on my April posting and for becoming a ‘Follower’. I do apologise for the delay in responding to you but was rather tied up away from my computer throughout May.

    What an excellent idea you have highlighted here and something which could be so easily adopted by many, many cities.

    — June 4, 2010 @ 15:16

  3. Bren said:

    Your Images are alive! It is talent to be able to blog during gardening season. You have made a perfect location for children to enjoy the garden.
    Thank you for sharing – you are truly inspiring.

    — June 5, 2010 @ 23:13

  4. Joan said:

    I just like everything about that set of photos. A simple locale which fills with the warmth of a neighborhood evening party — well, that’s just a darn good reason for any garden. Love to see the kids so involved. Baltimore is SUCH a great town.

    — June 6, 2010 @ 00:06

  5. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    You are very welcome Edith and thank you as well for contributing here. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

    — June 7, 2010 @ 11:02

  6. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Love that your neighbor is gardening her garage! Glad you enjoyed my Paris piece, it’s so easy to blog about such a beautiful place where gardens are everywhere.

    — June 7, 2010 @ 11:06

  7. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thank you so much Bren for such a nice bit of feedback. I aim to inspire, so it’s lovely to hear that it you felt that way!

    — June 7, 2010 @ 11:07

  8. peter sanford said:

    Hi Robin,

    I forwarded this to my son, Mac, who lives in Baltimore.

    Hopefully, he and his neighbors will follow suit….

    — June 9, 2010 @ 13:41

  9. Jane said:

    I was born and raised in Baltimore. There used to be so many beautiful garden spots on parkways and neighborhood lots that were maintained by the city. I grew up across the street from a huge lot that was planted in cannas every year. It’s nice to see that people are trying to bring back some of the beauty that WAS Baltimore.

    — June 24, 2010 @ 11:00

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