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What is Guerrilla Gardening?

Updated on May 6, 2009

I borrowed a book from my library recently called "On Guerrilla Gardening" by Richard Reynolds. I had no idea what I was checking out. I thought I would learn some gardening tips. As it turns out there seems to be an under world of gardeners. The more I read the more fascinated I became with these gardeners. To think that some people can not garden freely was something I was unaware of. I guess it makes sense though when you think of all the people that live in apartment buildings. Where can they plant things if they have no land? Guerrilla gardeners have taken over public spaces to satisfy their need to garden and get back in touch with nature. On page 16 Reynolds defines gorilla gardening as "The illicit cultivation of someone else's land." This sounds like risky business to me.

Think of all the land around you. Think specifically of property that isn't taken care of. This type of land is the land that guerrilla gardeners target. Guerrilla gardeners are fighting a war to beautify their cities and towns. There are many properties that are neglected. Cities might not have the funds available to landscape a space and then maintain it. Apartment managers might not care about the land around their buildings and let it go to the weeds. There are many planters around that go empty year after year except for the weeds. There are empty lots where homes have long since been torn down and now lie empty. These areas are more and more frequently being taken care of by guerrilla gardeners.

Guerrilla gardeners don't want to see neglected property. They typically love nature and gardening and they take it upon themselves to clean up neglected areas and plant something. What they plant is up to them and it depends on the situation. Sometimes they have to do their gardening in secret and will even get up in the middle of the night for fear of getting caught. Some people have been doing it so long they have very well groomed gardens right out in the open, on public or private property that no one cares for but them. Sometimes they just toss some seeds on the soil and let nature take its course. Whatever path they choose for that area, they are improving upon what was already there.

I am not sure what my opinion on guerrilla gardening is. I can see both sides. I see the need to garden; I don't think I could live without it. I see the need to take care of the Earth and all its many land areas. I see the need to beautify cities and towns. I also see where this is trespassing. I see how this can be considered illegal. It might not be as thrilling, but why couldn't people ask permission to garden on these properties? I know it wouldn't always work out, but it is worth a shot right? Part of me thinks "who do they think they are, changing someone else's property?" It was a very interesting book to read on a topic that I did not know existed last week. Now I look around and wonder if it goes on in my city.


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    • Honorebel profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California

      love this article. thanks

    • Raven King profile image

      Raven King 

      9 years ago from Cabin Fever

      I thought guerilla gardening was about collecting seed from public places? Hmm...very interesting!

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 

      9 years ago

      It seems to me that getting permission and arranging a gardening group would be easier than going about guerrilla tactics.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      The guerrillas I heard about often did it on city-owned land. They said if they went to the trouble of asking permission they knew they would get bogged down in time-consuming, bureaucratic paperwork -- and they would likely be denied.

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      9 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      I've been so tempted to contact the owners of the empty lot beside us, to get permission to use the land. I have a garden, but a small fence for free-range chickens would be marvelous!

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Fascinating. Very cool, jennifer. Personally I couldn't do it without asking, but Rochelle makes a good point and I did hear about that on NPR I think, is that where? Not sure. Very interesting subject.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I  saw a tv story on this in the past week. In this case, the gardening was seen as technically illegal-- but no one was tracking them down, because people like it.

      And it was in the U.S.-- western states, but I can't remember exactly where.

    • Jennifer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Nemingha - the man who wrote the book lives in London. It is definitely worldwide, as is very apparent on the website. I would venture to guess it is more popular elsewhere than the US.

    • DarleneMarie profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Facinating and informative subject Jennifer! I noticed that there is a vegetable garden in my area that is visible from a main road, which clearly is not the homeowner's property.

      It is located outside of the fenced in area of their property, on a strip of land that is not being used otherwise.

    • Nemingha profile image


      9 years ago

      Is this a worldwide phenomena or one of those only-in-America type of situations? Good informative hub as usual.

    • C.Ferreira profile image


      9 years ago from Rutland, VT

      What an interesting concept! I don't think I can accept other people coming onto my property to do this, but the idea is definitely cool.

      Perhaps it would be a good idea to turn it into a business! The people who don't have time or the funds to use their land for gardening could contact the guerilla gardeners to come do it for them! Since the guerilla's are already doing it for free, nobody would have to pay! Its a win-win.


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