Guerrilla Gardening: Green Bombs Against Drab Gray


Among the protest movements “Guerrilla Gardening” is probably the most beautiful, because it is about flowers and blossoms. However, you can do a lot wrong – here are the most important tips and information.

In 1973, a New York artist challenged the concrete desert of her hometown: she filled Christmas baubles with earth and seeds and secretly threw them at night on run-down, abandoned plots: the “Seedbombs” and “Guerilla Gardening” were born.

Secret gardening with the goal of making your own neighborhood greener, more colorful and more livable has been enjoying increasing popularity ever since. Meanwhile, the garden guerrillas are also at home in almost all big cities.

Guerilla Gardening: political protest with flowers

Guerilla Gardening as a form of political protest first caused a sensation in 2000, when globalization opponents and environmental activists armed with banners planted flowers all over Parliament Square in London. The flowery type of “warfare” (“guerrilla” = Spanish for “small war”) is rarely so public.

Mostly the seed bombs are secretly placed in relatively hard to reach places. In contrast to urban gardening, which uses similar methods and places for planting, the garden guerrillas do not have permission to use the areas. And that can be a problem.

Justice and law for garden guerrillas

Guerrilla Gardening always moves in a gray area. Planting flowers and other plants on a public property without permission is criminal damage, namely property damage. If seed bombs go down on private properties, their owners could even demand damages according to the code.

But that’s not how it usually happens. Often locals and passers-by are happy about the colorful variety in the concrete gray and even water the plants. The city garden departments responsible for public areas rarely have anything against the colorful public participation. Nevertheless, one should only “compulsory greening”, where one can be sure that no one objects.

And some special plants should be avoided. The illegal cultivation of hemp plants on traffic islands or between the flowers of the city garden office, also known as “guerilla growing”, has already provoked the police in some cities. And the Nabu indicates that the seeds or sprouts should come from native species, because otherwise the native insects have little of it.

By the way: By planting you lose all rights to the plant. If you cut off people from the city or the landowners, you can’t do anything about it, nor should anyone harvest the fruits of your seed-bombs. The first is the easiest to prevent with a careful selection of plant species and growing place, the second is simply a compliment to your secret greening.

5 practical tips for successful entry into guerrilla gardening

In addition to the proper seed selection for the seedballs, the place and timing of the green guerrilla action are the crucial points. That’s why you’ll find a few practical tips here:

  • Do not dare to go far! Namely, when choosing the plant species for your Seed-bombs: Avoid the so-called neophytes and rely on native flowers and shrubs. Only they provide much needed food to butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
  • Seed bombs and Seed-balls: The spherical seed balls are now ready to buy. You can also make it yourself from topsoil, seeds and fertilizer. Instructions for doing so can be found in books on guerrilla gardening, on various online platforms and in the article Making Seed Bombs by hand – instructions.
  • Look for like-minded people: In some cities, there are clubs or people who help aspiring guerrilla gardeners on the jumps. The flower fans hold meetings where interested people can learn more about the topic. There are also groups on social media platforms like Facebook where you can ask for help and advice.
  • At the right time at the right place: Guerrilla Gardening determines the time and place of sowing (April to June). Neither should be mowed at your plantation spot shortly thereafter, nor should your flowers land in places where they are either bothered or classified as harmful weeds. In all cases, your plants have been torn out in no time, trampled flat or mowed.
  • Do not let it get you down: failures are commonplace in guerrilla gardening. Due to the legal situation, you can’t change it. But the more often you make a bit of colorful variety, the more likely someone will enjoy your “works” and take care of them.

Urban agriculture as an alternative

You think “guerrilla gardening” as too radical? But you still want more green in the city? Then try Urban Gardening or Urban Farming. In both cases, you have the permission to use a specific piece of public land to grow tomatoes, radishes or lettuce, for example. That also makes the city a bit greener, but it’s legal and you can also reap what you’ve sown.

The two initiatives “Field Heroes” and “My Harvest” at many locations are also exciting. Everyone can get in and harvest 20 to 30 different vegetables during the season. The locations are rarely urban … it’s fun anyway!

Check out in your area what options are available to you and give it a try or at least support them!


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