This article examines citizen participation in the governance of contemporary urban green space. Rather than exploring normative questions of ideal forms of participatory democracy, it focuses on changing roles and relationships between local state and non‐state actors in order to identify and explain the changing nature of participation. I argue that neoliberal urban restructuring has changed the conditions for participation and thus participation itself in fundamental ways and that we need an account of changes in statehood and governance in order to capture this conceptually. Based on the case of community gardens in Berlin, the article discusses the extent to which this changed relationship is expressed by current citizen participation as well as the potential and problems that result from it. My empirical results show the emergence of a new political acceptance of autonomously organized projects and active citizen participation in urban green space governance. The central argument of this article is that this new acceptance can be conceptualized as an expression of the neoliberalization of cities. Nevertheless, this neoliberal strategy at the same time leads to complex and contradictory outcomes and the resulting benefits are also acknowledged.