I was recently walking through the garden section of my local Home Depot looking for lavender with a friend when she asked me about Guerrilla Gardening. I semi-jokingly asked if this was when Guerrillas grew their own vegetables. It turns out I was wrong.
The term Guerrilla Gardening is used to describe the (occasionally unauthorized) cultivation of plants in vacant public or private land. It’s a great opportunity to beautify neglected or overgrown spaces. Some of the examples I’ve looked up seemed dangerous so if this is something you decide to take up, please be careful and stay safe. As interesting as something looks planted in a divider, standing in the middle of the street is still standing in the middle of the street.
It’s important to point out that you should contact the property owner before making any changes to their landscaping, especially when you consider all of the hard work you’re looking to put into it. By obtaining permission beforehand you avoid having hours of hard work and money wasted (Imagine doing the work, and the next day having a professional landscaping company coming in and replacing everything). While Guerrilla Gardening’s roots are in doing things without permission, it’s better to be safe than sorry. By establishing a group of committed gardeners and having a solid reputation with the community you could even be invited to take over spaces like this SoCal group was for a space in skid row.
The basic “how to” of guerrilla gardening is fairly simple, but you can get very creative when planning out your garden.
Step One: Selecting your location.
Finding a safe location that you think could use some sprucing up. Then check local ordinances to see whether your garden is legal. In some municipalities it is against the law, while in others it is not. Avoid trespassing on private property. If the land you want to work on is on private property contact the owner and ask permission.
Step Two: Selecting the plants.
You’ll need to consider what amount of sun and water the area gets before picking anything out. It’s a good idea to avoid planting anything edible unless you are willing to have the soil tested for contaminants. A quick google search for soil testing should show you local organizations that can help you out for fairly cheap. Once you have planned your garden and gathered your supplies and needed tools it’s time to select the time and date you want to garden.
Step Three: Clean up
It’s a good idea to have a few people who are willing to help with this part as with some places it can be a large amount of work. Most of the places you’re looking to garden in are going to require a good amount of clean up before you can even get started on planting. You’ll want to clear away any garbage and remove any weeds from the soil. Make sure to wear protective gloves and be careful as you never know what you might run into (be it wildlife or just poorly discarded sharp objects.)
Step Four: Plant Your Garden
Once everything is cleaned up and you’re ready to begin planting, it’s time to get into the dirt. Make sure you label everything, and it’s a good idea to place a little sign letting people know that you’ve started a garden there. It’ll help you when you come back to do any needed maintenance, and it’s a good way to keep people from accidentally trampling on your hard work.
If you’re interested in this guerilla eco friendly approach to gardening it’s a good idea to check facebook and twitter to connect with your local groups. This trend has become quite popular here in the United States and overseas. Chances are your local groups will have a variety of information to help make your attempt a successful one.