Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Gardens, Greenspaces and Tree Plantings Enhance Local Communities

Planters and hanging baskets along Ft. Duquesne Blvd.
Planters and hanging baskets along Ft. Duquesne Blvd.

Thanks to more than 13,000 volunteers, strong partners and widespread community support, the Conservancy’s Community Gardens and Greenspace Program continued to plant gardens and street trees, enhance school grounds and complete a variety of other innovative green infrastructure projects during 2011.

In addition to receiving several local and state awards, the Community Gardens and Greenspace Program was recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s America’s Great Outdoors Program for its outstanding work in urban greening and green infrastructure technical assistance.

TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, for which the Conservancy serves as lead partner, planted 3,975 trees in the Pittsburgh region in 2011, bringing the total to 13,310 trees planted along streets and in parks since 2008. TreeVitalize Pittsburgh is a partnership with Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, Tree Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Dominion volunteers help plant a garden at Cedar Avenue,
in Pittsburgh’s North Side.
Dominion volunteers help plant a garden at Cedar Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

More than 135 flower gardens were planted in 20 counties with the help of over 200 corporate, 200 school and 400 community groups. In addition to enthusiastic volunteers, this project is sustained by key financial and in-kind supporters who value greener cities and neighborhoods.

For the fourth consecutive year, downtown Pittsburgh streets were arrayed with more than 400 planters filled with seasonal blooming plants — each replanted five times throughout the year with different displays of color and interest. More than 700 hanging baskets were also installed downtown and in six Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Since 2008, WPC’s School Grounds Greening project staff has worked with administrators, faculty and students at 55 Pittsburgh public schools to design and implement low-maintenance green enhancements in the schools’ outdoor areas. During 2011, 12 new school greenspaces were installed, including eight outdoor classrooms and four natural play spaces. With the help of 636 volunteers, a total of more than 100 trees, 400 shrubs and 4,000 perennials were planted at the twelve sites. Seven school greening projects received 2011 Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Community Greening Awards.

WPC also partnered with Grow Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development on Allegheny Grows, a project to bring new community vegetable gardens to neighborhoods. In 2011, three new vegetable gardens were established, in Penn Hills, Bellevue and Wilkinsburg.

Tree planting, Faison K-5 school, Pittsburgh
Tree planting, Faison K-5 school, Pittsburgh

Additionally, WPC installed a rain garden at Sanguini Baseball Field in the Brighton Heights section of Pittsburgh. The rain garden provides an attractive landscape, while addressing storm water and erosion issues at the field. It was part of a complete “green” remake of the ball field, funded by Pirates Charities and the Heinz Endowments. Other features of the baseball park include pervious paving and a solar-powered scoreboard.

WPC also took part in an annual international event — PARK(ing) Day — converting a Cultural District parking lot into an inviting green parklet for a day (with a lawn, fountain, trees, flowers and vegetables) for passersby to enjoy. Staff members also passed out spruce saplings. The goal of the event was to promote urban greening efforts.

Community Gardens and Greenspace 2009 – 2011 Strategic Plan Accomplishments

  • • 11,953 trees were planted
  • • 475 volunteer tree tenders were trained
  • • 400 planters were installed in downtown Pittsburgh
  • • 700 hanging floral baskets were installed in Pittsburgh neighborhoods
  • • 135 flower gardens were sustained throughout the region
  • • 11,000-13,000 people volunteered each year for Community Gardens and Greenspace projects
  • • 55 Pittsburgh Public School system schools received outdoor greenspace enhancements