HOW-TO GUIDE: GREEN YOUR LANEWAY

Laneway greening can soften and beautify otherwise harsh, dull spaces, while at the same time engaging communities in the environmental stewardship of their neighbourhoods and improving their quality of life.

Why Green Your Laneway? 

• Reduce the urban heat island effect;
• Increase the natural infiltration of storm water and reduce storm water runoff;
• Remove pollutants from the air;
• Absorb wind and reduce wind speeds;
• Increase the biodiversity and resilience of urban habitats by providing microhabitats for plants, birds, animals and insects;
• Provide pleasant, rejuvenating outdoor space where neighbours can come together;
• Provide attractive play space for kids

Greening Techniques 

There are a range of greening techniques and activities that can work in Toronto’s laneways. Read our complete Laneway Greening Guide for specific steps, contacts, online resources, planning requirements, and funding tips that you can use to green your laneway. Our free guide rovides examples of laneway greening techniques – from simple things like plant pots and vines, to more complex interventions like living walls and permeable paving. See below for some examples.

Container PLanting

Planting containers – such as freestanding pots, hanging baskets, window boxes and wall baskets – make use of the horizontal space available in laneways. They allow you to introduce vegetation when “conventional” gardens are more difficult. They are also flexible enough to be moved around at different times of the year. 

Read the full Laneway Greening Guide for tips on community container planting and key resources to get you started, like Evergreen's Native Plant Database

 

Vertical Greening

Vertical greening makes use of the vertical wall space in laneways.  This can include simple vines rooted in the ground that climb up building walls and trellises, or more complex living walls that include soil and irrigation systems. 

Read our complete Laneway Greening Guide for planning tips, like applying for the TD Friends of the Environment Grant.

 

Planting Beds

There is often a narrow strip of private property running alongside a laneway, between the public right-of-way and the adjacent fence or building wall. This is an ideal spot for a planting bed, whether a “conventional” one or a rain garden with a slope, soil and vegetation designed to absorb storm water runoff. Read our complete Laneway Greening Guide for tips on organizing community planting days and possible funding opportunities like the Live Green Toronto Grants. 

 

Permeable Paving

As we’ve seen over the past few years, flooding can be a big issue in the city, especially during major storm events. Introducing permeable paving to your laneway can allow stormwater to percolate naturally into the soil, while also enhancing its visual appeal. This paving can span the entire width of your laneway, or can cover just the drainage channel at the centre. If the central drainage channel of every laneway in Toronto was paved with permeable paving that would give us more than 200,000 m2 of natural drainage space. Read our complete Laneway Greening Guide for specific permit requirements and contacts that you can use to add permeable paving to your laneway.

 

Green Laneways We Love

Cities all over the world are greening their laneways using a combination of planting techniques. Below are some examples in North America and Australia.