How to Enjoy Your Community Garden Without Destroying It

Community gardens are popping up everywhere because they are great collaborative projects that help educate and often feed a neighborhood. There are many different kinds of community gardens, and not all provide food. Some are educational native habitats for plants and wildlife, and if you happen to come across either one, it’s important to know how to enjoy them without ultimately destroying them.


Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden (PHIG) is an example of an educational, native plant and wildlife habitat, as well as water conservation demonstration garden. PHIG is carefully maintained by a trained staff of garden experts, including UC Master Gardener, Monika Olsen.


Special care is taken to ensure native insects, birds, plants, and more are given the opportunity to thrive in the garden without pesticides, that invasive species don’t take over the area, and that PHIG’s composting system is properly working so we can ultimately use it to feed the garden soil.


If  you are lucky enough to live near a community garden, or happen to come across one, here are a few helpful tips to enjoy it without destroying it:

  1. Look for posted garden rules: Most true and well established community gardens will have posted rules and even possibly a garden mission statement.
  2. Stay on designated paths: Paths are designed to keep plants and especially wildlife safe. For example, the garden might also be a monarch butterfly habitat, and there may be caterpillars curled up among the roots and plants.
  3. Don’t be a ‘Guerilla Gardener’: (This rule is especially for native gardens) Never put your own seeds into a native garden. Every plant is placed in the garden with thought and care, and introducing random seeds could kill other native plants, or you could be introducing an invasive species that is difficult to get rid of.
  4. Don’t contribute your own scraps to the composting system: Compost is a precise science in which you add specific layers of green and brown material, with the goal of maintaining 120 degrees and above. The heat is required in the process to break everything down. No heat, no compost. So if you toss in random scraps with good intentions, you may be messing up the compost cycle already started.
  5. Sign up to volunteer!!: Your local community garden needs you! Volunteering to help in the garden is one of the most effective ways to help out. Maintaining even a small garden can be a lot of work! You will learn a lot, get some exercise and fresh air, or get those community hours you need to log while you’re at it.


To volunteer at PHIG or get more information, email Nikki at or visit PHIG’s website at








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