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Ultimate Guide to Guerrilla Gardening


Becoming a Guerrilla Gardener
This before-and-after shot shows a median prior to guerrilla gardening and after. With time -- and a little watering and weeding -- the plants will grow into a luscious garden.
This before-and-after shot shows a median prior to guerrilla gardening and after. With time -- and a little watering and weeding -- the plants will grow into a luscious garden.

You've made up your mind to join the ranks -- now what? The first thing you'll want to do is identify where your garden will be. For this, keep a couple of factors in mind. If you're a beginner, you'll probably want to start small. Spend some time scoping out your target, maybe an empty concrete planter near your home or a patch of weeds on a vacant corner that you pass on your way to and from work. Second, it's usually not enough to just plant the garden; you'll also need to see that it's maintained. So make sure the plot -- often called orphaned land by guerrillas -- is somewhere accessible. It doesn't hurt to choose a place you think neighbors might be willing to pitch in and help maintain, whether by weeding or watering. Putting up a friendly sign on the lush spot can help encourage their participation. You might be surprised how a cheery garden can get neighbors chatting.

Now that you've acquired your target, start making battle plans. Get some troops together -- whether existing friends or sympathetic comrades -- and schedule a covert mission. Guerrilla gardeners often perform their missions under cover of darkness. This not only helps protect the troops from unwanted interference, it also enhances the surprise for neighbors the next day. In some places, guerrilla gardeners have taken to working in the daylight hours, but until you've got some experience with the situation in your area, you'll probably want to find a low-traffic time of day to get working.

Next, get the plants lined up. Nurseries and wholesalers may donate some plants or at least offer you a discount if you explain your aim. Once you're an established guerrilla gardener, you can often collect plants from flourishing gardens for use in new ones. It's important when choosing plants to select indigenous, non-invasive, hardy plants that can survive the local climate. Drought-resistant and other low-maintenance plants are good bets. Perhaps most importantly, target plants that bring beauty and color to an area. Draw out plans for the garden's layout ahead of time; it'll make the dig go more smoothly. Once you arrive at the site on the big day, clear everything away and get planting.

If you're looking for a more low-key way to guerrilla garden, try making seed bombs. There are several different recipes available on the Internet for making these seed-filled missiles. Most include clay, some form of compost, seeds and a little bit of water to bind everything together. After drying for a few days, the gumball-size seed bombs can be tossed into places like empty fields and vacant lots, and then simply let be. During a good rain, the clay will melt and the seeds will be released amidst the fertilizer to help them get sprouting.

If you're itching to get your hands on a trowel, check out the next page for info on your fellow guerrilla gardeners.