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How to Start Guerrilla Gardening In Eight Easy Steps

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Guerrilla gardening is a term used to describe the unauthorized cultivation of plants or crops on vacant public or private land. For some practitioners, Guerrilla Gardening is a political statement about land rights or reform; for others, it is primarily an opportunity to beautify and improve neglected, barren or overgrown spaces. Guerrilla gardening can be conducted either via secretive night missions or openly in an attempt to engage others in the idea of community improvement; regardless of which approach one takes, there are some basic steps that are important to successfully raise plants under the demanding conditions experienced by these gardens. Follow the steps below to learn how to start your own guerrilla garden.Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.09.01 PM

1. Find an appropriate plot of land. In most urban and suburban areas, unused and uncared-for spaces abound. You can find them along sidewalks, on the sides of overpasses or freeway on-ramps, between buildings, on road medians and more. Plant near a water source if lack of water is a problem. You don’t need a lot of land.

Can’t find a planting site? Make one. Attaching containers to posts and railings can add a lush or colorful touch to an otherwise lifeless spot.

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2. Take note of the condition of the land. It will almost certainly need some preparation before getting started. Will you need to remove weeds, trash or other forms of waste? Is the soil rocky, clay-like or more earthy?
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3. Determine what plants to use in your garden. This is a critical step; your choice of plants has a huge effect on the likelihood of success or failure of your garden. Here are few suggestions:

Select hardy plants that can thrive with intermittent care. You probably won’t be able to easily water, weed and fertilize your garden in the same way that you could if you were gardening around your home. Choose plants that can withstand variations in watering and other care schedules. Xeriscaping goes hand-in-hand with guerrilla gardening.

Choose plants that naturally grow in your area. Native plants are an ecologically sound choice, in that they won’t tend to overcrowd other parts of the habitat. They will also be well-suited to the amount of sun and rain, temperature swings and other climatical factors.

Be aware of conditions the plot of land that you will be growing on. For example, is it heavily shaded or does it get a lot of morning or afternoon sun? Be sure to choose plants that are a good for your light, moisture and soil conditions.

Choose inexpensive plants. Save the pricey plants for gardens in protected areas. A Guerrilla garden is subject to vandals, animals and more. Choose plants that you can easily afford to replace.

Select impactful plants, ones that will be green and bright and will make a difference for as much of the year as possible. [2] Also consider plants thatcreate habitats for butterflies, birds, and other native species.

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4. Plan your initial gardening mission. Determine when you will work, who will assist you, and what you need (plants, tools, water, fertilizer, etc.). Arrange a concrete day and time to do the work.Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.12.13 PM

5. Gather your materials. Some of the things you will need:

  • Plants – Acquire a sufficient number of the plants you have chosen to cover your plot. You can buy plants from stores, or for a less expensive but more time-consuming alternative, start seeds at home. Transfer them to the garden site when they are well-established so that they have a better chance of survival.
  • Tools – Make sure you have the tools you need for the job: rakes, hoes, shovels, gloves, wheelbarrows, etc.
  • Water – Bring in some water to help your plants get started. Unused gasoline/petrol containers seal tightly, pack well and are easily transported.[2]
  • Fertilizer – You may want to add some fertilizer when planting your garden; be sure not to use any chemicals you would not want to get in the local water system.
  • Trash bags – You will probably need to remove trash and weeds and other waste from the site.
  • Transportation – Unless your garden is very close to your home, you need to be sure you have a vehicle or other means of getting everything to and from the site.
  • Signs – Letting people know what is planted there may make them more conscious of the site and less likely to trample on it (or allow their dogs to use it as a bathroom).

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6. Start your garden.

  • Clear the land of weeds, trash and other undesirable things.
  • Prepare the soil for planting. Dig/aerate as needed.
  • Plant/water your plants.
  • Clean the area thoroughly before leaving. Don’t leave trash, weeds or anything that reflects poorly upon you or other guerrilla gardeners.
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7. Return to care for your garden. Planting the garden is only one small part of the job. It is your responsibility to water, weed and otherwise maintain your garden (though there is nothing wrong with encouraging others to help).
8. Spread the word about this unique, eco-friendly way to improve your community. Feel free to leave small signs or plaques in your garden encouraging others in the community to water and help care for it.

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  • Consider installing bird houses for native bird species. They’ll not only add life to the site, but the birds will also help keep insects under control.
  • There are many communities online and around the world (particularly in the U.K., Europe and the U.S.) involved in guerrilla gardening. These communities can be an invaluable resource for information and a great way to interact with others who share the vision of a greener world.
  • Consider using native plants whenever possible. Many garden plants can naturalize and become unwanted invasive exotic weeds (i.e. kudzu, ivy, wisteria, bamboo, etc.)
  • For hard-to-reach places, you can make seed bombs by combining seeds with clay and fertilizer. These can then be thrown to that location when conditions are favorable to help new plants to grow there.
  • Consider the potential use of areas before planting unless you are just trying to make a statement and don’t really care about your plants. The grapevine and fig tree near a military fence in the photo above, for example, will likely be destroyed due to security concerns as soon as they are large enough to inhibit the view or provide a hiding spot for a potential intruder (or sooner, as a part of routine maintenance designed to prevent that from happening).
  • If you do not have much time to care for the plants, tulips are a great option. Purchase the bulbs in bulk from a local garden center. If you use a cordless drill with an auger bit, you can easily plant 100 bulbs in less than a half hour.

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“How to Start Guerrilla Gardening In Eight Easy Steps”