7 things you need to know about guerrilla gardening

Guerrilla gardening is a surging concept taking hold in highly populated, urban areas. People are growing plants without permission on land that doesn't belong to them, as either a political statement regarding land rights or simply in an attempt to beautify unused and neglected spaces. Sometimes it occurs via covert night missions and sometimes it is openly carried out as a statement of community improvement.
Regardless if you're planting secretly, or are more bold in your actions, there are some important things you should heed when planning a guerrilla garden.
1. Scope out a spot
First and foremost, you have to find a spot that's going to work for your guerilla gardening project. In this day in age, there are many, many unused and uncared for urban spaces. You don't need a large space to start with -- look for tree pits, free spaces between buildings, neglected public planters, or even open areas along the sides of roadways. If transporting water to a site is problematic, look for something close to a water source.
2. Size up the conditions
Once you've picked a spot for your guerilla garden, it's time to really take a good, hard look at it. Figure out how much work will need to be done to clean up your spot to get it ready for planting. Is there trash that needs to be removed? Will the soil need to be amended? How many weeds will have to be pulled? It's important to consider how much prep work is required, as this will add time to your project.
3. Map out a plan
You've got a site picked out, and you've figured out how much work is going into getting it ready for planting. Now comes the fun part! Time to sit down and figure out exactly what you want to plant, and put together a garden layout/design. Chances are, the site you've picked out isn't going to be the highest quality so it's important to pick plants that are tolerant of poor conditions and maybe even lack of water. (Balcony Garden Web talks about some great drought resistant plants that would be great additions.) Also take some time to think about if you're going to need help from other people to execute this plan, and exactly when you want to do it. Does the situation warrant a strategy that has you planting at night to keep it under wraps? Or can it easily be done during the day when anyone can see what's happening?
4. Gather supplies
Time to start pulling everything together! This is where you're going to need to think through step by step and figure out exactly all the things you'll need. Start collecting all the plants or seeds you want to have in the garden. Also make sure to gather items such as shovels, trowels, and rakes as well as fertilizer, compost (if you're applying it), watering cans or hoses, and containers/garbage bags to haul trash away in. Chances are your site might not be close to your home, so you'll need to bring everything with you that you're going to need -- you won't want to run home or to the store quickly for something you've missed.
5. Get planting
Now comes the fun part -- transforming the space! Start off by clearing all the trash and debris from the ground, then prepare the soil by working it or adding compost if you have it on hand. For an in-depth explanation of preparing garden soil for planting, check out Planet Natural. After the soil is prepped, it's time to plant and water your garden, and then do a thorough job of cleaning up trash from the planting activities.
6. Keep it growing
After plants are in the ground, it's important to keep an eye on them and make sure they are getting what they need: regular water, some fertilizer here and there, and monitoring for pests and diseases. A gorgeous garden -- guerilla or not -- requires attention after planting so make sure to check in on your garden once in a while to make sure it's thriving.
7. Spread the word
If your guerrilla gardening isn't completely covert, place signs up around the garden letting people know what you're doing. If the situation warrants it, invite them to help themselves to produce, and/or pitch in to help with watering, weeding, or other garden tasks. Maybe someone will see what you're doing and try their hand at it as well, beautifying another space with garden plants!

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