Urban Greening: Guerilla Gardening In Woodlawn

Some of my industrious and wonderful neighbors created these  garden beds from a neighborhood lot that’s been sitting vacant for some time.

The land may belong to the city as they’re the ones who cut the grass in the summer.

What used to be a place where homeless people camped, residents let their dogs run free and a young man was murdered has become an impromptu community gathering spot.

Upon first glance, most may not think this is a huge achievement but I watched my neighbors—one in particular—mow the grass, frame & dig up those beds by hand, then sift years of debris out of the soil.

Yet the most impressive part is what looks like concrete pavers is the old foundation of the buildings that once stood at that location.

The foundation remnants were dug up and transported to make the borders of the beds.

That, my friends, is dedication.

One of my neighbors who made this all happened told me that he even found multiple backpacks that he believes were stolen from local school children under a secluded cluster of trees.

My only concern is that the soil may have some lead and asbestos contamination from the demolition of buildings.   We;re an old neighborhood and I’d wager most of the buildings have been here for well over 50 years—some over 100.

I can’t imagine any new construction happening on that lot so the garden should be safe.

As things are planted, I’ll take pictures to show the progress of the space and to see if the garden can eventually take over the complete lot.




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  • This makes me disproportionately happy. Well done, people!

  • Well it's just gardens all around. Lyletta, that's gorgeous--and it's your regular view! You should try to get a plot! Our neighborhood garden on Woodlawn and 55th has only been up and running for a few years now, and it was placed on land intended for condos that never quite happened. That first preparation for planting is Herculean work (really, work that I watch). Totally impressive, and totally beautiful pavers. Thanks for posting! I'll be posting pics from our garden too as it grows.

  • Wow, that is really great.

    Those remnants were part of a fieldstone foundation, probably 100+ years old - very labor intensive to construct, they fell out of favor once the use of concrete became more widespread.

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    Great job! There is a host of support for community gardens. Check out the garden at 65th and Woodlawn.

    Great post. I'll keep reading.............

  • This is awesome! I'm secretly envious of all the urban gardeners in Woodlawn...lol. Keep us updated!

  • Thanks for all of the love. I'll pass your comments along to my neighbors whose hard work made all of this possible. In fact, a new wooden structure has been completed and three new beds have been outlined since I took the above pictures. Slowly but surely the vacant lot is disappearing.

  • Simply beautiful...gardens have a way of reminding me of childhood.

  • Just wanted to say congratulations on the RedEye story this morning...I said, "I know this gal!" Makes me proud. Keep up the good work!

  • Alison,
    What Red Eye article? Was it today? Are you sure it was this post? Give me the 411.

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