Guerrilla Gardening and Seed Bombs – how to get started

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Guerrilla Gardening and Seed Bombs – how to get started

In many urban areas, there is a lack of green space. Without it, we also miss the plants that help pollinators do their essential work. Guerrilla Gardeners have declared war on dead zones and are attacking with a combination of tactics, including seed bombing. 

Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

History of Seed Bombing

An ancient technique, seed bombing was used in ancient Egypt to repair farms after the annual spring flooding of the Nile. Seed bombing, known as nendo dango in Japanese, was re-discovered by natural farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka.  The practice eventually spread to other parts of the world, including the United States, where it became a popular form of protest against unchecked development.

Now used as a tool for environmental activism and urban gardening, it has been employed in various cities worldwide to create green spaces and promote biodiversity. Seed bombing is a relatively easy and low-cost way to make a big impact in terms of both beautifying an area and increasing its ecological diversity.

Seed bombing as activism aims to beautify and green public spaces that have been neglected. It’s a way of taking back control of our urban environment, making it more livable for everyone. Best of all, it is an activism that directly contributes to the betterment of urban landscapes that are so often devoid of plant or animal life. 

Seed bombing is a great way to introduce the kids in your life to activism and teach the importance of nature.

How to make Seed Bombs

Seed bombs are one of the most common tools used in guerrilla gardening, and they’re easy to make yourself. Here is an easy recipe that anyone can make at home. While it is easier to simply plant seeds directly in the soil, the seed bombs we make at home are throwable for long distances, allowing reach beyond areas we are typically able to access.

The bombs themselves are designed with ingredients to provide a growing medium for the seeds, retain moisture to allow them to germinate, provide nutrients for the plant as it gets established, and give protection from rodents or birds that would eat them before they germinate.

You’ll need the following (to make more, just multiply the ingredients):

  • 1 cup of clay soil
  • 1 cup of compost
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of seeds (wildflowers native to your local area are best as they require less in the way of special care)
  • A mold (an old egg carton works well)


  1. Mix the clay soil, compost, and water together in a bowl. 
  2. Add the seeds and mix well. 
  3. Fill the mold with the mixture, pressing it firmly so it’s compacted (alternatively, you can roll them into balls like a meatball). 
  4. Let the seed bombs dry for 24 hours before using them. 

To use, toss them into an area you want to green up, like abandoned city lots or planters that only contain ornamental varieties of shrubs. To reach areas beyond the range of a throw, you may even use a slingshot to shoot them further. 

Some people prefer to take a simpler approach; simply carrying a shaker-style container of a mix of wildflower seeds with them on their travels. Wherever they find a neglected patch of ground, they shake a few seeds onto the soil and wait for nature to take its course. 

Of course, you could always do both; make seed bombing expeditions to target specific areas and carry a shaker of seeds to beautify places that you find in your day-to-day travels.

Other Forms of Guerrilla Gardening

Guerrilla Grafting is a form of activism where fruit-bearing varieties of tree branches are grafted onto the ornamental varieties of trees in cities. Cities traditionally have planted only ornamental varieties of fruit trees – citizens love the beauty and fragrance of the blossoms. However, most cities are afraid of the cost of cleanup and legal liability of the fallen fruit on the ground or potential poisoning from someone eating said fruit from the tree. Regardless, the trees are there, and some people, under cover of the night, are taking matters into their own hands by adding fruit-bearing branches to the existing sterile trees on city property. Difficult to detect at most times of the year, the grafted branches become part of the tree and produce delicious fruit for the residents of urban areas that may, in fact, be food deserts. Because only one or two branches are grafted onto any one tree, there is not too much fruit for it to become a problem a city would try to take action on. 

Guerrilla grafting can be done by anyone with a sharp knife and some basic knowledge of how to graft trees (see the image below). 

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Anyone can learn to graft fruit-bearing branches onto ornamental varieties of fruit trees. Image courtesy John Blanchard, The Chronicle and

Community gardens are another form of guerrilla gardening where people work together to create a garden in an urban area, often without permission, on land they do not own. These gardens can provide fresh produce for the community and help to beautify the area. The earliest known example of this form of activism is from 1649 in Surrey, England. The man responsible for this, which was at the time a rather extreme form of activism, was Gerrard Winstanley. His group, called The Levellers, occupied formerly common land that had been privatized by the wealthy. They cut down hedges intended to keep the poor out, filled in ditches, then planted food crops that anyone could harvest. 

Community gardens can help to beautify an area, provide fresh produce for the community, and improve the environment. It is known to help to build community spirit and pride and helps to expose children to outdoor activities, nature, and whole food. 

Gardening as Activism

Activist or guerrilla gardening is an important way to improve neglected, sterile, or abandoned areas. It also helps to provide food for people in need and helps to build community spirit. There are many documented cases where an abandoned lot turned community garden becomes a focal point for community pride and care. They often eventually become protected parks, safe for future generations to benefit from.

In my opinion, guerrilla gardening is one of the most promising and fun ways to encourage direct activism in the young and for elders to share their acquired knowledge of the earth. I only wish I had known about it when my own children were little – I cannot imagine a more fun, engaging and productive way to spend time with my kids. If you are interested in getting started with guerrilla gardening, there are many resources available online and in libraries.

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