Guerilla Gardening: a Basic Guide

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Introduction: Guerilla Gardening: a Basic Guide

Guerilla Gardening is a type of nonviolent statement to bring about change in your community. It is just more accurately described by Wikipedia...

"Guerrilla gardening is political gardening, a form of nonviolent direct action, primarily practiced by environmentalists. It is related to land rights, land reform, and permaculture. Activists take over ("squat") an abandoned piece of land which they do not own to grow crops or plants. Guerrilla gardeners believe in re-considering land ownership in order to reclaim land from perceived neglect or misuse and assign a new purpose to it."

This is a guide to how I planted my first guerilla tree and everything I used in order to get it to this new location.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For my tree I used several items to get it, transport it and plant it into an unoccupied space.

I used:

A shovel
a Camelbak
a camera phone
an open field
a place to steal a tree from
and of course... Common sense.

Step 2: Find Some Trees and a Place to Move Them.

For me, right across the road is a hillside that is just covered in trees and is almost impossible to be developed. This makes it extremely easy for me to go and find a couple of saplings and pull them right out of the ground. The easiest place to pull them out is next the the train tracks where there the ground is full of rocks and old coal.

If you can't just pull the sapling out, use a spade or shovel to loosen up the dirt around the tree. If you cannot transplant the tree immediately find a shady spot to set it in until you can move it.

Step 3: Prepare to Transplant.

Speed is the key here. Assuming that you are in a place that isn't owned by you... you need to get in and out as fast as possible. Be sure you have your shovel, camelbak, tree, and common sense... You will need all four.

Go out on a nice night that you can still see by the moonlight or on a part of the day when most of the surrounding houses are busy inside and take everything with you.

Get to your digging site and set the tree on it's side and camelbak out of the way. Using your shovel, dig out the first layer of grass, keep this to the side. Dig down far enough into the ground to cover up the roots, about 8-9 inches was good for me.

Set your tree in the hole and push back in most of the dirt that you shoveled out. Pack in the grass that you set aside in order to support the tiny tree.

Pick up the camelbak and pour out all of the water onto your new tree, it will need it.

Step 4: Enjoy and Protect Your Tree

Since this isn't my land I will have to take some measures to protect my tree. Eventually I will put some mulch around it and maybe a little stonework. For right now I will just be watering it and keeping the grass cut low until I am positive the city workers will mow around instead of over the poor little thing.

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    75 Discussions

    Sad to hear the tree was mown down; it would be 9 years old now and possibly offering shade to picnickers that wandered out for privacy. This is inspiring me to have my students plant flower seeds around my campus without notifying admin or the district grounds crew and monitor progress throughout the year... maybe even some bulbs. Guerilla campus beautification army? GCBA... I see a t-shirt and logo coming on?

    I am glad there are other guerrilla gardeners out there, but what you are doing isn't productive. First of all that field looks maintained. The best guerrilla gardening locations are areas that are not being regularly maintained. For example green belts, the park perimeter (not the mowed open fields), cul de sacs, powerline corridors, rail corridors, undevelopable hillsides, etc. Secondly, you shouldn't transplant trees or bushes unless it is their dormant season. Late winter, early spring is when you should do the transplanting in most regions. Instead of focusing on trees, focus on edible landscape. That way you, the local animal population, and your neighbors can directly benefit from your work. One of my favorite guerrilla gardening tricks is to take cuttings from a Currant bush and stick them in the ground in November. The next spring, each Currant stick you put in the ground will become a new bush. Another thing I like to do is buy bare root plants from the mega home centers (Lowe's) late in the season when they are dirt cheap. I bought a bunch of blueberry bushes at $2 a pop and planted them on an unmaintained hillside at a nearby park. The best spots for guerrilla gardening are areas overrun with weeds and invasive non-native plant species. If you get caught, just tell them you are doing invasive plant removal.

    1 reply

    I agree.

    I have a greenway behind my house. The area of my yard and the greenway is separated by a creek. The greenway area is not maintained. My side is a bit of a jungle too, but I'm working on it. My plan is to grow sunflowers on my side this year and then harvest the seeds and seed bomb the green way side. Then I plan on moving up from sunflowers to other crops. I'm choosing flowers first, in order to attract pollinators.

    How can i tell if the land will be suited best for a tree or whatever i wanna plant? Often times city crews go by and mow and bush wack everything on public land down.

    oh wow! i would do this in town if i had some trees to steal freely that weren't russian olives. cause their the only trees small enough to steal besides the enormous sage brush and the occasional juniper. and russian olives are invasive and thorny, the only tree that really survives by itself out here. (i live out near hanford with the radioavtive stuff leaking from the tanks)

    That is actually what I plan on doing for my next few trees, I want to put up apple trees and cherry trees. If only banana and coconut trees would live around here, then I would be in heaven.

    Ooh yes. Even here in Portugal I get frost resulting in dead banana trees. I'm constantly looking for a place to live where I can grow these exotic species. Suppose I have to go abroad. Bear in mind that fruit trees only give fruit after 3 or 4 years.

    There are hardy varieties of banana that will grow outside year round and sometimes even fruit in New England with a little care...palatable varieties are a little rarer. Here, in southern Massachusetts (and even in the Berkshires) I've seen a number of people landscaping with bananas. Getting them to fruit is a little more difficult because the flowers begin the year before they actually appear and usually the stalks get frost-killed too close to the ground. There are a few strategies I've heard of but haven't tried for overwintering enough of the stalk to produce fruit outside.

    I have always wanted to live along the equator, one long growing season for the rest of eternity. I would assume that you could find a way to cover the banana trees during the frosts like you would a smaller plant in order to keep them healthy. As long as the tree lives, it doesn't matter how long it takes for it to bear fruit

    You can cover the tree with bubble foam or even straw but it's such an ugly sight. A banana tree don't die when you -before winter- chop it off a few centimeter above ground level, cover it according to the frost standard in your zone and uncover when frost is gone in early spring. The tree will shoot again. Amazing.

    Believe me: you don't want a banano (banana plant) around yourself:
    DESCRIPTION:
    *) A banano is an underground root structure that, every now and then, shoots up a pseudo-stem that becomes what you call a banana tree. Depending on the species (and there are hundreds of species other than the one single species eaten in the United States, Canada and Europe), the pseudo-stem might grow between one and six meters before bearing fruit and drying up.
    PROS:
    1) While the pseudo-stems only live between six months and a couple of years, the root structure can live for a good hundred years.
    2) A healthy, adult banano always has several pseudo-stems at different stages of growth. The more I've seen is 18 or so.
    CONS:
    1) When a pseudo-stem bears fruit, it doesn't give it gradually: You first see how it shoots a flower, then you see how the flower begins arcing down, then you see how the flower becomes hundreds of juvenile fruits within some ten days, and then you see how all the tiny fruits develop at the same pace and ripen within days of each others. You haven't ended up eating a few bananas a day for months: you end up having to eat your own weight worth of bananas within a week.
    2) The gross variety of banana varieties makes any other fruit seem plain and everyday-the-same. Bananas vary in size, shape, colour, texture, hardness, ripe-point, sugar content, acidity/alkalinity and use. One might look like oblong red grapes and nearly seem to made out of honey and butter, some others might as well be potatoes for how low their sugar content is and how high their cooking time is as well. Some have to be cooked while still fairly green, because they dissolve into useless mush when ripe. A few varieties allow you to dry them and turn them into fuor. A Mexican variety is even called apple-banana because it tastes like apple. In the end, most Western nations are accustomed to a single species and may not even touch a different one.
    3) Banana-sap is an extremely powerful brown-to-black dye, that comes on clear, oxydates in the air and holds. I have a few 9 year old stains on one of my favorite kicking-around shirts, so this natural dye holds really fast.
    4) Bananos tend to kill all vegetation around them. If it wasn't enough that banano sap is a very good dye when dry, if it wasn't enough that it has leaves measuring in excess of 2 meters by thirty centimeters, bananos are by definition subterranean plants, so they can simply flush out competing plants.
    5) As the pseudo-stems are pretty much disposable, they rot, completely. They stink and grow all sorts of insect larvae.
    6) If you wish to see a species of spider you've never seen before, go check the bananos. Tarantulas and jumping spiders are particularly fond of the habitat.

    Umm.... wow.. That is a lot of info. I guess I will totally ditch the idea. What about coconuts?

    And I hadn't really gotten started with bananos. Did I mention that the flower smells so strongly and so sweetly that it attracts every herbivorous scavenger from miles around? Or did I mention that when you cut off the fruiting branch from the pseudo-stem, it begins rotting all at once?

    Anyway, coconuts should be fantastic for guerrilla gardening: dig a pit in the sand, fill it up with organic waste, place a ripe coconut on top of the pile and cover the pit again. The limitant is that coconuts are pretty much limited to sandy soil in tropical climates, so who knows how will they react to other soils or a harsh winter.

    i have some bananaa seeds at home. im planning to start them soon, and grow it indoors (its a sort of dwarf banana with non-edible plants).

    update: i started it. the directions said to soak the seeds for 24 hours, then sow in a pot with a plastic dome over it. though my plant doesnt make edible bananas :-(. nice flours though.....

    seems like you really don't like bananas... yes there are alot of varieties but that hardy seems like a con to me. I have bananas and some of these things seems over the top. no plant is perfect... here are some more pros 1. I live in hawaii and enjoy watching the day gecko, they love to live in the bananas, and lay eggs there. 2. Old leaves quickly compost into usable soil 3. If alot ripen at once you can always give some to friends or freeze for making banana bread. 4. They tolerant the drought in my area better than alot of plants

    I love bananas. I eat one or two per day, plus a fried macho banana every now and then. My school has some bananos or the grounds and always enjoy watching them, looking always green and lush despite being months since the last good rain. Thing is, I live in Cancun, you live in Hawaii: we both live in the tropic. This guy lives in an area were it freezes in winter. The pseudo-stems and leaves are composed of +90% water, which is why they rot so quickly. The pseudo-stems will freeze solid, and the root structure is likely to follow. The reason why having so much variety is a Con is because most Americans, Canadians and Western-Europeans only eat a single variety, and won't even touch a different one. How big is your freezer? Walk-in?