How to Guerrilla Garden in 5 Fun Steps

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First, what is guerrilla gardening? Hipsters and housewives alike are part of the rapidly growing underground – or rather, rightintheground – political activism movement to beautify bedraggled corners and unkempt spaces of public places, from streets to curbs to corners and stoops. This surreptitious environmental warfare is fought with pick and hoe; its ammunition, seeds and saplings. That’s right: the unlawful (sort of) guerrilla movement sprouting out and cropping up in a city near you is all about gardening. You, too, can be a lawless hooligan bettering your neighborhood’s walkways, highways and byways by way of pending marigold circles and nascent juniper hedges. Here’s how to do it. You civilly disobedient thing, you.

Step 1: Define Personal Brand

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Will you be part of an organized team, launching your green thumbs in an unstoppable offensive of rose bushes at 7th and Westcott? Or will you work alone, vigilante style, bedding down poppies with abandon at 12th and Orchard? Determine your personal guerrilla gardening style and plan accordingly. Working publicly in a group is considered the creation of “graffiti with nature” and there are groups in nearly every major city, while late-night forays to increase the pleasing odors emanating from the back alley with a thorough planting of bleeding hearts would be considered standard-issue, albeit solo, guerrilla gardening and doesn’t require joining up with any group. Define yourself, and stick to it. Or don’t. Whatever, just plant something already. Remember that affixing “ninja” to anything is practically guaranteed to lend to success in all you do. Now that you have reputation management and brand identity squarely underfoot, you’ll need to develop:

Step 2: Your Battle Strategy, Etc.

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Technically, guerrilla gardening is illegal. If you’re doing so much as pulling weeds from someone else’s land, especially Uncle Sam’s, you’re unlikely to get points for being considerate and helpful. This isn’t the UK. That said, you’re also highly unlikely to go to jail for the audacious crime of improving neglected crevices and crannies, making this the perfect act of political environmentalism for those too burdened with such things as offspring, student loans and/or impressive Twitter followings to commit more serious crimes of civil disobedience that might land one in the slammer.

Now, strategy. You’ll want to pick a method that should inform your choice of location. Questions to consider: will you be a one-time azalea assassin, or will you be making this a regularly scheduled habit of daisy debauchery? Is there a certain spot in your town that you’ve been in agony about and you’re tired of petitioning the city commission to once and for all remove that blasted rusty fence guarding a sagging mailbox of ill repute? Or are the street corners in your area all composed of mud and in need of a little germinal love? Think about this and make a determination of supplies and their corresponding costs, and decide how much crime you can really commit to. Decide if you want to garden in the middle of the night, which decreases your odds of being seen but increases your odds of being questioned, or in the early morning or evening, when you’re more likely to be considered sane but also more likely to be identified.

Intention is important. No general takes the battlefield without first harnessing his chi. Take a moment to manifest the positive energy of the universe and/or  connect with your deity of choice. Humming kumbayah and telling the plants you love them is also recommended.

Step 3: Logistics and So Forth

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Plants? Check. Event scheduled, for least busy time of week at a preferably late-night hour? Check. Bags for cleanup? Check. Tools: headlamp, plastic baggies fastened around boots, gloves, supportive non-drunk friend(s)? Check. You’ve chosen your spot; go forth and garden. Note, Trader Joe’s has the cheapest plants. Birds eat seeds and children delight in trampling any mesh netting you might set up to deter avian meddlers. Consider yourself warned; go for sprouts at the very least. Finally, be sure you manage to leave the spot in better condition than you found it – the whole point is to be caught bettering the world, not grubbing it up, if you should be caught.

Step 4: Doing the Deed Requires a Chick

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You’re far more likely to avoid trouble if you bring a female of the species with you. This lends credibility to your act and averts passerby fears of potential catcalls should they come within 50 yards of you as you flail around in the dirt, since clearly your fine guerrilla acting skills have got you convincingly portrayed as a city employee and unfortunately being a male occupied with a task involving movement of dirt makes you, obviously, a hornballish pervert incapable of anything but apish gestures and whistling. So bring a girl.

It’s not likely that anyone will think you’re actually a guerrilla gardener – who’d be lunatic enough to garden at their own expense on land that isn’t one’s own? – so bringing a lass along is more to ease the psychological anxiety and reduce stereotypical assumptions about your obsession with your doubtless overpetted trouser mouse in the minds of passerby than anything else. If you have to make a sudden escape, do not worry; women, especially the young ones, can run surprisingly fast and rarely stumble despite what is depicted in popular cinema. A warning: women are paranoid and will be convinced their sixth sense has detected impending discovery and subsequent prosecution that will inevitably result in social ruin and financial disaster in addition to a rather undesirable relationship with a hairy large inmate, so come armed with plenty of soothing yet ruggedly masculine and most importantly very convincing platitudes deposited in your memory bank.

Step 5: Additional Advice

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Make sure you’ve chosen hardy, preferably perennial plants that are easy to maintain since you’re going to have to return to the scene of your crime to maintain them. Why yes, that’s right! If you’re going to garden a patch of land that’s not yours, you have the responsibility to keep those greens at full chlorophyllic capacity.

Note: The author blames the ill effects of the internet at large for the contents of this post. For more reputable information about guerrilla gardening, see this post at our sister site, WebUrbanist.

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