Guerrilla gardening: Spruce up your community’s green spaces

Spruce up

Spruce up

Every neighborhood has those ugly spots: empty planters that collect litter, grassy areas that have been worn down from foot traffic, and abandoned gardens that were once loved and tended, but are now filled with weeds.

We are inspired and uplifted by what we see around us, and when areas of our community are neglected, we see decay instead of beauty. We may even start to care less about those ugly little corners, and think poorly of these areas.

But there is a fix for these neglected gardens and green spaces: guerilla gardening.

What is Guerilla Gardening?

Technically the term refers to planting gardens in public areas without getting permission from the city, town or property owner. We don’t recommend this approach, of course, but the idea of getting a group of like-minded friends and family members together to participate in beautifying neglected gardens in your community is a great one. Just make sure to get permission before doing so.

Contact someone in your city or town if the garden is in a public space, or talk to the business owner if the garden or planter belongs to a business or organization.

Once you have permission, the fun begins!

How to begin

  1. Assemble your team. Talk to friends and family members about your plan to beautify a space in your community. Pick a date and time that works for everyone. Remember to make sure that there are people who are able to do heavy lifting and digging, if need be.
  2. Talk budget. Determine how much money each member of the team is able to pitch in, and figure out a budget once you have your total.
  3. Assign tasks before the big day. Once you have chosen your spot and you know what type of work needs to be done on the site and what plants and supplies you’ll be purchasing, write out a list of tasks for each member of the team. You don’t want to end up at the site with seven shovels and no plants, for example!
  4. Write up a list of supplies. You won’t need to purchase everything (most people have gardening supplies and tools that they can bring along with them), but these are the kind of supplies you will most likely need:
    • soil
    • fertilizer
    • shovels, hoes, trowels, rakes
    • trash bags and garden bags
    • gardening gloves
    • a hose
    • sunscreen
    • a first aid kit
    • hand sanitizer
    • drinks and snacks
  5. Choose your plants. Check to see how much sun your spot gets, and determine whether or not you will be planting annuals, perennials or a mix of both. Remember that you and your team will need to be responsible for tending the garden once it’s planted, so keep that in mind when selecting plants. If someone can’t be there every day to water the garden or planter in the middle of a hot, dry summer, for example, choose hardier plants that can withstand extreme heat and drought conditions.

Give back through Guerrilla Gardening

It’s wonderful to guerilla garden in public spaces, but think about asking permission to spruce up private yards too. Perhaps there is a senior in your neighborhood who used to have a lovely garden but is now no longer able to maintain it. Or maybe there’s a single parent who doesn’t have the time to tend to their garden the way they once used to, or a person who is struggling with an illness that prevents them from being as active as they once were. These are great opportunities for your team of guerilla gardeners!

Depending on your choice, Foresters Financial may be able to help you make an even bigger impact with guerilla gardening. Foresters Community Grants provide members with the resources and financial support needed to independently organize a volunteer event that’s meaningful to you and your community. For more information visit


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