This paper explores the contemporary commons in suburban space through a sociological and an architectural lens focused on the city of Dublin. The green spaces (often left over and oddly shaped) that punctuate contemporary low-rise suburban estates in the Dublin suburbs are examined in terms of their role, actual and potential, in generating social and civic life. The paper takes the view that specifi c architectural interventions have the potential to aff ect people's perceptions and uses of suburban public spaces. The paper examines (1) the use of green spaces and interstitial spaces by children and (2) the use of allotment gardening spaces by plot-holders. The paper argues that while suburban greens and suburban allotments have a 'commons' sensibility, that sensibility is compromised in practice by the wider political context. Unfett ered development, poor design, municipal by-laws and informal social controls on space and its use result in a symbolic rather than political commons.