The Rise of Guerrilla Gardening

Berry Mathew

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The Rise of Guerrilla Gardening

The Rise of Guerrilla Gardening

Guerrilla gardening is all about growing plants, food, or flowers without permission in neglected public or private spaces. It’s on the rise as a form of protest or community building, intending to improve the environment and produce plants for use or enjoyment. 

More sustainable urban landscapes are considered vital for several reasons. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, sustainable urban developments should provide a variety of uses, such as commercial, institutional, educational, and housing, as well as mobility options — such as sidewalks, trails, and private streets — connected to transit stops to reduce pollution.

Providing sustainable landscapes can also contribute to the development of healthy communities by sequestering carbon, cleaning air and water, increasing energy efficiency, and restoring habitats. And, of course, the transition of urban areas and cities to sustainable practices can improve liveability, promote innovation, reduce environmental impacts, and maximize economic and social benefits.

Guerrilla Gardening is a grassroots movement that started in the 1970s with the efforts of Liz Christy and her group Green Guerrillas, who planted trees, flowers, and edible plants in neglected public spaces without authorization. The idea behind the movement is that public land belongs to everyone, and if the local government isn’t taking care of the green spaces, citizens should have the right to cultivate it themselves.

What started as a simple act of planting seed bombs over fences surrounding a vacant lot has evolved into a larger movement with a focus on improving the environment and creating green spaces in urban areas.

Background of Guerrilla Gardening

The origins of the Guerrilla Gardening movement can be traced back to the 1600s in England and the Diggers of Surrey, led by Gerrard Winstanley, and in the US, to the 1800s and John Appleseed Chapman of Ohio. But the term guerrilla gardening was first used by Liz Christy and her Green Guerrilla group in 1973 in the Bowery Houston area of New York.

The spread of Guerrilla Gardening has been global and growing steadily over the years. It has been reported as a “trickle” in the gardening world about to break its banks and flood the world

The Growth of Guerrilla Gardening

The reasons why the guerrilla gardening movement is seeing a surge in popularity is due to a variety of factors, including:

  • A desire to bring communities together
  • Rallying behind environmental causes
  • A growing interest in preserving green spaces
  • Increasing the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables
  • Providing habitat and food sources for pollinator species.

Guerrilla gardening often exploits a gray area in the law, but gardeners have developed methods such as planting at night or filing petitions to earn recognition from the community. According to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the progress of the guerrilla gardening movement is evident in places like New York, where people have put in the effort to make the gardens a success, leading to a fight against neglect and an increase in the popularity of guerrilla gardening.

Guerrilla gardening has gained significant attention and support in recent years as people become more conscious of the importance of sustainable urban landscapes. The rise of urbanization and industrial agriculture has brought about concerns about the unhealthy practices of modern food production, further increasing public awareness of guerrilla gardening. 

Benefits of Guerrilla Gardening

By planting in public spaces, guerrilla gardening can help to increase the biodiversity of urban areas. This is because the native plants being grown provide habitats for wildlife, increase the variety of flora in the area, and create more opportunities for natural ecological processes to occur. By encouraging more connection with nature through the act of searching for native plants for sale online and then planting them in the urban space, guerrilla gardening helps to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods and make a positive impact on urban biodiversity.

Guerrilla gardening is also known for increasing community involvement and ownership. According to, guerrilla gardening brings communities together, rallying behind environmental causes. It serves as a means of improving the community and environment through collective action, which in turn creates a sense of ownership and investment among community members. 

The act of guerrilla gardening can even improve the quality of life in a neighborhood and provide a sense of pride among those who participate. So the benefits of guerrilla gardening include not only environmental and aesthetic improvements but also a strengthened sense of community and collaboration among participants.

Overall, guerrilla gardening is a way for communities to take action against the deprivation of nature and provide green spaces for both wildlife and people.

Challenges Faced by Guerrilla Gardeners

Guerrilla gardening is often considered to be illegal or a civil trespass against the landowner. The fact that landowners haven’t permitted guerilla gardeners to plant makes it all very much on the wrong side of the law. 

However, to date, there have been no arrests for guerilla gardening in the US. In fact, guerilla gardening has been called a normalized form of law-breaking.

Are you Going to Start Guerilla Gardening?

Guerrilla gardening is an act of planting in a public or private space that is often neglected to improve the surroundings and make the space more beautiful. It is seen as a positive change. By creating green spaces, guerrilla gardening helps to preserve the environment. It also rallies behind environmental causes, making it an important contributor to the sustainable development of urban landscapes.

Despite being illegal, guerrilla gardening exploits a gray area in the law and is widely accepted as a form of urban intervention. The continued growth of guerrilla gardening is bringing about positive changes to the environment and the urban landscape, making it a promising development for the future of sustainable urban landscapes.

Guerrilla gardening represents a powerful movement that is transforming urban environments and promoting a more sustainable and livable future for all.