Public Spaces & Greening

Committee Co-Chairs: Marie McSweeney Anderson (Lake Walker) and Helene Perry (St. Mary’s Church)
Committee Meeting Times: Last Tuesday of the month at 8:00am

The York Road Partnership’s Public Spaces and Greening Committee (PS&G) is committed to the ‘Complete Streets’ Model. PS&G strives to enhance the York Road Corridor by ensuring the streetscape is attractive and green, walkable, and safe for pedestrians and cyclists.  We work to create and maintain public spaces on the Corridor and in our neighborhoods, and we work to assure mass transit services and facilities are available, accessible, and convenient. This committee brings together people with interest in enhancing the appearance of the Corridor through greening efforts together with those who have expertise in landscaping, urban ecology or environmental design.

What’s New?

Check out the interactive tour of the Govans Urban Forest, highlighting local tree species. This was a project done in partnership with an English class from Loyola University Maryland with Dr. Jean Lee Cole.

Great News! 

The York Road Partnership’s Public Spaces & Greening  received a Maryland Environmental Trust: Keep Maryland Beautiful Grant for $2,250 to continue its work to restore native species at the Govans Urban Forest! This Grant, received in July 2017, has  provided support for our on-going efforts to clear invasive vines (two dumpster-loads were removed!) and to plant native trees and shrubs (over 30 were planted where older trees had died.) A watering system was also  installed to help new plantings survive.

Public Spaces & Greening Meeting Notes

Keep Maryland Beautiful Grant –  Projects during Summer and Fall 2017

Govans Urban Forest Patch (GUF)

Dumpster Filled.jpg

Trash & Invasives:  A concerted effort to clean out the back portion of the forest resulted in piles and piles of trash and debris. Here is one of the roll-offs filled with invasives and trash.

Hose box

Construction Projects: A Storage Box  will let us keep small tools and supplies securely on hand.  One of the several new birdhouses will welcome our native birds next spring

Curt's birhouses_0170402_110326 (2) - Copy

Water: GUF has no natural water source and the soil is very dry.  Prior to planting new trees, we ran a hose-line (which can be connected to the city water supply well, located in the adjacent  sidewalk) to the back of the forest (~ 300 ft).  ‘Y’ connectors for a side hoses were placed at stations about 50 ft apart.  Volunteers from the Loyola University Finance Department dug the trench to buried the main hose in summer 2017.

Water supply_main line
Water_hose tap

New Trees:  As fall approached we prepared to plant new trees, and consulted experts on what would be appropriate plants for the condition in GUF (shady, dry, good humus.)  With help from wonderful volunteers, we planted 33 new trees. New tree ID tags for these and one sample of each other existing species have been purchased and we look forward to a ‘tree-tagging party’ next spring.


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When we began working in GUF there were many invasive vines and non-native trees, especially Norway maples.  Most have been removed and Baltimore Green Space tells us our forest patch is now 93% native trees! Besides restoring GUF to a healthy native forest patch we would also like to see it serve as an opportunity for young people who are living in the  city and may not be able to see different types of trees  to experience the impact of being surrounded by a woodland.

In Spring of 2018 the Assistant Manager of Landscaping at Loyola University became increasingly concerned about the safety of Loyola students and other volunteers working in GUF Through his efforts a collaboration of Loyola U, the property Owner, and the Carroll Tree Company, the three 100 ft tall dead oaks were cut down.  Their oak seedlings are thriving and well on the way to reforesting their species.

Children & Youth at GUF

A visit to GUF can provide a variety of first-hand nature and environmental experiences for youngsters from 1st grade on. We are happy to host a group or class to provide a neighborhood ‘urban forest’ experience. We can work with teachers or scout leaders to accommodate a project or lesson plan or we can provide a service project for a small group.  For more information contact our Forest Manager.

Other Ongoing PS&G Projects

  • Street Tree Inventory:   We have developed and maintain an inventory of our street trees, treeinventory , from the city line to 42nd St. Street. Recently Baltimore City has constructed a sophisticated Baltimore City Tree Inventory which will help our effort With this inventory we can initiate yearly requests for the city to remove and replace those trees that have been damaged or are dying. The York Road Corridor is a heavily trafficked gateway corridor and it is a a challenge to maintain healthy trees. We work with our partners to weed and mulch tree pits and prune young trees.
  • Collaboration with Loyola’s York Road Initiative:   On ‘Building Community Day’ and on the Mayors Fall and Spring Clean Up Days, we work with student volunteers to weed and mulch tree pits, stencil storm drains and other projects along the Corridor.
  • Dewees Park:  We are working with the Mid-Govans Neighborhood Association to help implement some of the improvements outlined in the Dewees Park Master Concept Plan . With a grant funded by the Parks & People Foundation, a rain garden was installed to address the run-off from the Dewees Rec Center roof. The Baltimore Orchard Project worked with the community to design and plant a community fruit and nut tree orchard.
  • Govans Urban Forest (GUF): With help from volunteer groups, trash and invasives have been removed from this small protected urban forest. Baltimore Green Space has provided expert advice and guidance for preserving and managing this small urban forest patch located in the 5200 block of York Road.

Spring and Summer 2016   

Dewees Rain Garden

Raingarden planting

As part of an afterschool program at Govans Elementary School, PS&G members Kathy Brohawn and Helene Perry offered a STEM  program  12 fourth grade students. Designed by Rain Underground and constructed by Blue Water Baltimore, the project culminated with the students planting over 100 native plants in the newly installed rain garden.

Aug. 26, 2016!

Monarch butterfly larvae

When we visited the Rain Garden today we saw Monarch butterfly larvae on the butterfly plants!!                               October 2017: The Rain Garden plants are thriving:

Earlier Projects:

In fall 2015 BGS hosted a Tree ID Workshop where Charlie Davis identified about 100 different species in GUF. Shortly thereafter a group of 6th grade student volunteers from the Mother Seton Academy measured the caliber of these trees.  The project culminated in ‘tagging’ one tree of each species, identifying it with a lovely tag Tree Tags Example that was designed by Katy Lautar of BGS. During our ‘Midsummer’s Eve’ celebration in June, guests were asked to find the trees and hand the tags so now visitors can readily identify various trees. We now have a listing of trees and shrubs  found in GUF.

During the spring and summer of 2016, volunteer groups came to GUF and helped remove invasive ground ivy.  Central Presbyterian, the Jemecy School, the Friends School of Baltimore, and the Johns Hopkins President’s Day of Service all contributed to clearing and cleaning out the front section of the forest.

And while we mourn the passing of Ernie, our quiet, gentle resident of the forest, we’ve used his passing as an opportunity to both clean out what was his ‘home’ for over 15 years and to continue constructing safe pathways though the west portion of the forest.

Dewees Orchard

Working to implement a piece of the Dewees Park Concept Master Plan,  the Baltimore Orchard Project helped plan and install the start of a neighborhood orchard at the south end of Dewees Park, just uphill from the City Farm on Woodbourne Avenue. As a start, seven trees were planted and a drip irrigation system installed. On October 5th ten residents and volunteers gathered again to install one Green Gage peach tree and five highbush blueberry plants. Blue Water Baltimore has continued to add trees to the Park, and planted three pecan trees close to the Orchard.  We look forward to harvesting fruit, berries and nuts in the not-too-distant- future!

It seemed fitting that since the Loyola Rugby team began the major clean up almost 4 years ago, it was also groups of Loyola students who volunteered to begin this second piece of the forest restoration.

Are you interested in joining any of these projects? Contact the  PS&G Committee  for more information.  You are welcome to join us at our monthly meetings on the last Tuesday of the month at the Community Room at the Loyola University Transportation Building, 5104 York Road. We meet from 8 – 9 am.

The Watershed Exploration Tutorial (WET)

While this is neither a GUF  nor a YRP project, we’d like to give a special shout out up and thanks to  Barbara Cutko of the Belvedere Square neighborhood for her lovely Watershed Tutorial project. Barbara designed and implemented a mural with information about our local watersheds, the Jones Falls and Herring Run.  The Tutorial is located on the south wall of the Pharmacy at 5824 York Road, on Orkney Road next to the parking lot used by Senator patrons. Stop by and take a look!