Community Gardens

Photo via 462 Halsey Street Community Garden on Facebook

The mayor recently announced that 34 temporary greenspaces would become official permanent gardens, while nine lesser-used sites would be built up for affordable housing. The news sparked mostly delight in local gardeners and advocates who once feared that hundreds of garden sites might be developed.

One 30-year garden veteran, self-described as being “on the front lines of garden preservation,” emailed Brownstoner to express his joy regarding the announcement, calling it an “amazing way for the city to say ‘Happy New Year’ to us gardeners!”

Here, he explains the multi-decade history of NYC’s evolving efforts to preserve community gardens: (more…)

Brooklyn Gardening: Fall Photos

Brooklyn gardens are in their final flowering. How is your garden looking?

As the air gets crisper but before the leaves start falling in earnest, we’d love to share your scenes of autumnal Brooklyn plantings. Send us your garden photos while you have the chance and we will publish them.

Email photos to laura [at] along with your neighborhood info and any details of interest to Brooklyn gardeners. Or simply tag @Brownstoner in a twitter or Instagram post and we’ll embed your picture.



The 6,000-square-foot rooftop garden designed by James Corner Field Operations at 60 Water Street in Dumbo is complete. Brownstoner toured it when it was under construction, in April.

The landscape designer also had a hand in The High Line and is creating new gardens for the San Francisco Presidio and the Seattle Central Waterfront. (more…)


For more than two decades, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has annually bestowed the title of Greenest Block in Brooklyn on the borough’s most verdant streets. Just yesterday, they announced the latest winner — a lush stretch of Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue in Bed Stuy.

Browstoner thought it was peak season to take a look back at the Greenest Blocks of years past. Flatbush is the most-awarded neighborhood — two of its blocks have won six of the 21 titles — followed by Bed Stuy, which has won four.



Bainbridge Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Stuyvesant Avenue is the winner of this year’s Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest. For 21 years now, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been hosting the contest — a face-off of window boxes and planters — in an attempt to make Brooklyn cleaner, greener, and bring communities together.

Residents spoke of a massive hose over half the length of the block that everyone shared to help water the plants. “We get out early in the morning with that hose. We have a wagon for it, and a reel,” said block resident Sid Paris.

Block members went on to speak of the sense of identity and place created by the shared goal of winning the competition. “It’s a real tight block association,” former resident Anna Baker told Brownstoner. “Everyone participates, even the children.”



As Brownstoner readers know, Brooklyn’s days as an agricultural hotspot didn’t come to an end 300 years ago. The borough is home to the world’s largest rooftop farm: Brooklyn Grange’s 65,000-square-foot spread at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Installed in 2012 at the top of the Navy Yard’s Building 3, the farm turns out tens of thousands of pounds of produce every year, in addition to producing eggs and honey — and you can see the operation on a pair of tours offered every Wednesday morning.

Visitors see up close how the farm works and learn about the methods and environmental benefits involved with rooftop farming, and urban agriculture more generally. After the 30-minute tour guests stop at the farm stand for honey, hot sauce and vegetables. (more…)


With Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson no longer prosecuting minor marijuana offenses, and Downtown Brooklyn about to get its first pot dispensary, the borough is on the verge of returning to its pot-growing roots.

Before the 1950s, pot was cultivated pretty freely in the city. Just imagine the summer of ’51 — the Dodgers were leading the National League, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses was campaigning for hundreds of miles of urban freeways, and downtown Brooklyn was home to an enormous field of marijuana. (more…)


Brooklyn is known for a lot of things — Coney Island, the Nets, hip-hop, cheesecake. But farming? It’s probably not the first thing Brooklyn brings to mind.

But working farms do exist in New York City’s most populous borough, usually with the help of some good ‘ole fashioned ingenuity and the hard work of community volunteers. These five working farms aren’t only supporting the community, they’re adding something special to Brooklyn’s economy, too. (more…)


Wow. The fencers have spoken. Yesterday’s Bed Stuy backyard makeover sparked a wave of inquiry into the horizontal cedar-plank fence. And a 2006 post of ours about a similar horizontal fence has been pinned more than 10,000 times.

Horizontal fences are a thing. And we want to share more.

If you have a horizontal fence and would like to share, please send photos to barbara [at] along with your neighborhood info and any details useful to folks pondering their own fence installation.


The first party guests arrive in the newly finished backyard

Editor’s note: This is the latest in our long-running Bed Stuy Reno, a renovation diary written by a Brownstoner reader about a budget renovation of an Italianate brownstone in Bed Stuy financed with a construction loan.

When I finished most of the house renovations last year, there was no budget left for the backyard. Which in hindsight was a good thing, because I needed to recover from all the ills of going through a gut renovation.

Fast forward nine months later and I had enough saved to start my budget garden renovation. My old contractor offered me a great price to complete the work and as much as I like to save money, I really did not want to work with him on this project. I knew that I needed an expert and I wouldn’t have time to watch the project like a hawk. (more…)

Even city dwellers need a little green in their lives. A selection of plants can make your backyard, deck, rooftop, countertop, or planter box feel like an urban oasis. If you’re not experienced in plant care, however, the idea of raising your own crop of ferns and flowers can seem daunting.

If you’re wondering how to get started with your urban garden, this post is for you. We’ve spoken to the most skilled green thumbs in Brooklyn — the gardeners and landscape designers of Brownstoner’s Home Pros. Following are our experts’ top tips for choosing the right plants and keeping them healthy.

Tip #1 – Don’t overwater your plants

Brownstoner Home Pros Leaf and June

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“Selecting plants based on the natural sunlight they’ll be receiving is key, even more important than watering.  Overwatering is the quickest way to kill a plant, so feel the soil to gauge whether it’s thirsty. In this space, a palm tree, philodendron and snake plant all do well with plenty of light. That said, snake plants are versatile and are great low-light plants, making them ideal for city dwellers.” – Lisa, Leaf and June

Photo by Erica Gannett. (more…)