What is Guerrilla Gardening?
If you are lucky enough to have a garden you have probably been making the most of it in the last year or so. Interest in gardening has increased dramatically since the everything changed in 2020. Gardening can be a great antidote to the stresses and pressure of modern life and has been shown to improve mental health, not only the therapeutic act of gardening, but also the results that can be enjoyed by yourself and others.
But who says your garden is as far as you can go? You aren’t always looking at your garden and can many people see your garden? Could you do more in the surrounding area?
Many local communities get together to organise a community garden, or apply for funding from sources such as the National Lottery who can provide funds for community gardening projects. Your local council has a responsibility to keep the area looking like a pleasant place to live but we all know funding is limited so that little patch of derelict land behind the bus stop, or that messy gravel patch in the middle of the roundabout will likely never get sorted.
That’s where guerrilla gardening comes in! Guerilla gardening is defined as the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to cultivate. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or perceived to be neglected by its legal owner. So it is often done as a protest against the neglect of our public spaces. With so much concrete and so many dull grey buildings around who wouldn’t want a bit of colour and wildlife to brighten our everyday environments up?
Since guerrilla gardening became popular derelict wastelands, abandoned tree pits, pavement siding gaps and orphaned planters have become targets for guerrilla gardeners!
In cities air pollution has been a problem for years, and is a major cause of diseases such as asthma and lung disease. We know that vegetation can remove pollutants, in 2015 an estimated 1.3 billion kg of air pollutants were removed by woodlands, plants, grasslands and other UK vegetation in 2015 according to a study by Centre for Ecology and Hydrology so it is in our interests to encourage more vegetation. Now we aren’t saying for one minute that guerrilla gardening will have any significant impact on pollution levels but it does play a role in opening people’s eyes to how public places can be and look. If the pubic show they want to fill derelict land with gardens and wildflowers then this might give a message to councils and land owners who should be doing it in the first place.
How do you do guerrilla gardening?
Find a Spot – You’ll be amazed to see how many other people are doing this and how much support there is online. First of all you will need to find a small barren patch of land, maybe a bit of broken earth near an office block, or an old long abandoned planter. The key is to only use land that is unused or unwanted, and always have a plan to leave it in a much better state than you found it!
It doesn’t have to be totally derelict, there are plenty of bland generic green grass roundabouts to be found, these are the ideal spot for daffodils or wildflowers!
Get some seeds – Of course you’ll need one thing, and that is seeds! Depending on what you do, the scale, location and quality of the ground you are working with you may need some basic gardening tools.
Recruit some friends – Gardening at home can be a great way to get some good calm time to yourself, but gardening can also be a great social activity too! Guerrilla gardening isn’t just done for your own enjoyment, but it also benefits the community as a whole. If someone is having a bad day, noticing that someone has taken the time to turn a little derelict patch they see on their way to work everyday into a beautiful little oasis of nature, it can really make their day a little bit better! With this in mind, guerrilla gardening is better done with friends and family so you can share the experience and the results of what you have created, as well as just having a chat and a good laugh.
Get out and enjoy yourself! – With lockdowns keeping us indoors through much of 2020 and 2021 it is a great way to get outside and get some sun, so just make sure you pick a nice sunny day for the best experience.
Share your work with like minded people – There are lots of groups on social media and forums for guerrilla gardening, as well as being a great place to get tips and advice, other people will love to see your work. Seeing a bit of colour in someone else’s city can still bring a smile and it helps inspire others.