Guerrilla Gardening

First, property you don’t own belongs to other people and they get to say what happens to it. This is true of public property as well.

In the case of public property (small parks, roadsides, etc.) the parks department or local road department will be shocked and confused but ultimately pleased if you adopt one or more and take care of it. Contact them. (That way they won’t spray your planted non-grasses that they understand as weeds.)

Planting non-natives in small urban spaces is fine. If you want to plant into wild areas, be certain you know what is local to your native area and what is in the seed mixes, seed bombs, etc., that you use.

Seed bombs usually don’t work. The species in them that are most likely to succeed are the weediest. This is usually not a good thing.


That is sad. It is so fascinating to see what plants return after fire. I weed Californian daisies from my garden. Hard to imagine kindly scattering invasive aliens exactly where it would be most interesting to let the wild flower.


I think that this will very much depend on the type of people that work in those departments. If they are of the purse-lipped jobsworth ilk that infests some of our local councils in New Zealand, they will make a point of having anyone’s (supposed) good work undone.

Some examples:

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I’m sorry to near that!


I live in Southern California, so I’ve learned it just takes patience (as it does with planting anything from seed). Nothing will germinate until the one huge rainstorm in the winter, but, if you’re fine with waiting, they work well.

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We had not heard of this practice prior to your post and reading the link you provided. But given the salt & pepper shakers, how about “seasoning”?


Problematic if made by people without any competences:

  • alien and potentially invasive seeds/plants planted;
  • seeds/plants planted in the wrong season;
  • wrong info given to participants
  • possible frictions with inhabitants/institutions

I’d say “local county” at a minimum. Some states and provinces are huge.


I live in a dry area of California also. I’ve notice that scattered wildflower seeds may germinate after a big rain, but they need the good fortune of well-timed rains after that to keep growing to adulthood. Otherwise, the seedlings mostly die off. Or, possibly get eaten by birds and insects (a better outcome, at least).


I’m a big fan of guerrilla gardening. It can benefit wildlife and local community while inspiring positive change. I once lived in a community where it was not permitted to grow anything other than grass in the verge (that strip between the street and the sidewalk). Even though the city owned the verge it still required homeowners to mow it regularly. In short you had to mow it but you couldn’t plant anything in it.

Fed up with the rules some of my neighbours started to plant the verge in front of their houses with flowers and veggies. I followed suit although I didn’t initially realize it was against local bylaws. A battle ensued that lasted a couple of years. People would plant and the municipality would try to fine them. The defence became “How can you fine me for something that happens on city property?” Many people put up signs saying that the veggies were free for anyone that needed them.

Eventually the city gave up on its enforcement. People even started to walk through the area just to enjoy the planted verges. I can’t swear that there was more wildlife but it seemed that way to me. More insects. More birds.

While it is true that bad guerrilla gardening can have negative consequences the same is true for everything from art to neurosurgery.


Black medic is invasive in general!


The biggest issue I see with guerilla gardening is that if the plants will get mowed or sprayed on then it’s a waste, or worse a death trap.


You’ve described an example of the outcomes really well, and I think this is quite common.

Such approaches create arguments between people with different ideological/procedural positions, wrong or right or otherwise.

So the question is, is the benefit to the environment worth the detriment to our ability to get on with each other?

Will I be a lawn zombie to keep peace with my neighbours?
No lawn on my patch. But I also won’t guerrilla on someone else’s patch, even if it is ‘public’ land.
Even sadder to see commercial garden planties where the wild should / could / would / can / did … flower.

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Absolutely. It is impossible to make change without someone being upset about it. ‘Go along to get along’ just perpetuates the status quo.


I’ve found the same problem here in Canada. The irony is that when I was working in Afghanistan and Pakistan I never had a problem when I planted the verge. In fact local people would stop to tell my security guards that they were lucky to work for someone who was so generous that they would plant flowers on the street rather than behind the wall.

Actually, now that I think about it there was one small issue. On one occasion a local man let his camel eat the plants. Everything did seem to bounce back quickly though.


That’s very true… I think that explains why it does so well as a lawn weed in the first place: it’s often prostrate, quick growing, and quick seeding, capable of reproducing successfully in the harsh environment that exists in a lawn with frequent mowing.

Not sure if substituting with any of these natives (to me) would work:

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I don’t want to get along with someone who can’t accept anything other than a lawn, so I see no downside in the question you posed.

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I can imagine the feeling would probably be mutual regarding someone who has a problem accepting that they should not unilaterally interfere with things that don’t belong to them. So it’s a win-win, I guess.

Well, that depends if the benefit is real, clear and unequivocal. And even then…are you really sure?

I am a firm believer in the law of unintended consequences. Hence my hesitancy on this, and an increasing number of things that have been ‘settled’ over the past few years. I’m not particularly conservative (small or big ‘c’) by nature and I am certainly not a believer in fringe theories, but when people start averring so many certainties, I get a bad vibe. Time will tell, I guess…