The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Vandalism


This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

Vandalism is inevitable in all urban areas. Oftentimes, what the guerrilla gardener sees as vandalism is seen as clean-up by the unaware individual. Over zealous children with lawnmowers or weed eaters, though good intentioned can often be the end of a garden. It can take everything you have not to freak out in the moment… Remember this is not a time to scold… It is a time to educate…

Intentional vandalism never seems to be considered until it happens. Vandalism should be expected, at least when you expect it, you won’t be so surprised… And subsequently discouraged… When it happens… Never use expensive plants where this is an issue, use plants tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. Mints, once established, can be yanked, pulled, cut, even blown up with fireworks and still make a comeback. Mint, when in bloom is really a stunning plant that attracts a plethora of beneficial insects. Caution should always be taken when gardening with mint due to its invasive tendencies, but in this case we can make those tendencies work for us instead of against us.

Efforts at growing food in guerrilla plots more often than not will lead to theft. If you are growing food out in the open on a vacant lot, there is nothing you can legally do to a garden thief, consider this before your next move. What you can do is catch the garden thief in the act, not always possible, but definitely the most effective. The actor will almost always exclaim that given the fact that it was growing in a vacant lot, they figured it was “wild” food free for anyone to take. It really doesn’t matter if it is growing in perfectly cultivated raised beds on caged plants… This is the go to excuse. What you do next is of the utmost importance. Explain your intentions nicely, adding in the fact that you paid for the plants and put a lot of time and effort into the garden. Then as a peace-offering you should offer to share some of the extras when they are available… 9 out of 10 times this will resolve the issue while still maintaining a level of friendship…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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2 thoughts on “The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Vandalism

  1. Hi! I’m Andrea (aka Jacks of Club) and I’m an Italian guerrilla gardener. I appreciate a lot your manual (I invite you to read mine on my blog even if my English is quite rough. It seems that every guerrilla of the World is very keen to write one).
    About vandalism, I experimented it a few times, especially with my guerrilla tulips. After all, this is why we call it “guerrilla”. You win some, you lose one.
    I think that there’s nothing we can do, about vandalism: if someone is so ill-mannered to steal a flower or to throw paper on the street, we can try to educate hime as we want, but we won’t get any result. I mean, if I have to say to a man that he is doing something clearly wrong, it means that he doesn’t care about it. It’s not a matter of “Oh sorry! I didn’t know!”.

    About GG: I wouldn’t call the harvest of food a robbery. If food is grown on vacant lot, you should consider it as “for all”, as they do in Todmorden with their great project “Incredible Edible”. After all, a guerrilla sunflower is for the beautification of the entire town, not just for the pleasure of who sowed it.

    I think that the only way to prevent thefts, is to be regularly at gardening (and it won’t work ever): if inhabitants know you because you tend every day (or almost) the guerrilla gardens, they become your City Watch.
    It was presumed that you must show yourself when you garden (infact, I garden during the day, never at night, becasue I want to involve the Citizens who often approch me when I’m digging: the first times, they probably thought that I’m weird, but after three years of GG, I’m known as “the gardener of the village”).

    Hope to get an answer of yours!


    • C.Condello says:

      Andrea – Thanks for reaching out… Always nice to hear from another guerrilla gardener from so far away…

      I agree completely on the you win some, you lose some mentality… Just a part of the biz… As far as food is concerned… I tend to grow a lot of it at a time… I live in a very high crime area and have come back to find entire crops stolen… Frustrating yes… But also a part of the hobby…

      And lastly… Embrace the crazy… Because that’s how a lot of people see it…

      The Green Thumbed Vagabond – chriscondello


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