Community Gardening Etiquette

Community gardening combines two great things: ultra-local produce and public engagement.

Still, when you grow food in close quarters with your neighbors, you might encounter challenges you didn’t expect.

If your community garden posts rules, it always pays to heed them. But your peace-building efforts need not end there. Follow these suggestions to help you garden with your best etiquette and get the most enjoyment out of your community plot:

Only Pick Your Own

Even if you think your plot-neighbor wouldn’t mind sharing her red-ripe cherry tomatoes, always refrain from picking someone else’s crops without permission. If you’re friendly with a neighbor and coveting something she’s growing, you can suggest a swap.

Keep Your Plot Tidy

Pull up any weeds that pop up in your plot or in the path near your plot, to prevent their spread to your neighbors’ plots. Clean up spilled soil or mulch as best you can, and return communal tools to their proper location.

Use Approved Materials Only

If your garden maintains a strict organic-only policy, definitely leave the chemical fertilizers or pesticides in your shed at home. Even if your garden allows non-organics, you might win friends by going light on the chemicals or sticking to natural pest control, like ladybugs and natural fertilizer, like kelp meal.

Watch Your Feet

Step carefully between plots, and never in them. You never know when a seemingly empty plot harbors germinating seeds or garlic bulbs from the previous season. Vine plants like cucumbers or squash might sometimes stray into walking paths. (If they’re yours, do your best to train them back into your plot.)

Mind Your Kids and Pets

It’s fun to bring your whole family to the community garden, but be aware that small children can go on a picking spree in other people’s plots, and rambunctious dogs can unwittingly trample crops.

Practice Humbleness

You just harvested four pounds of green beans, and you can’t wait to share the news. Of course chatting with fellow gardeners is one of the pleasures of community gardening, but consider the possibility that your friend hasn’t been so lucky this season. Instead of boasting, try asking this people-pleasing question: “I’ve got some extra green beans, would you like to take some home?”

Consider The Shadow You Cast

Everyone loves a juicy tomato, but not everyone loves a bushy tomato plant shading out her ripening strawberries. Consider the direction of sun and shadows in addition the height of your plants, before planting.

Join the Conversation

Finally, the best way to stay up-to-date and courteous at your community garden is to make an active attempt to know your neighbors. Attend organized gatherings at the garden, start or join your garden’s Facebook page and say hello to fellow gardeners. Opening the lines of communication creates an avenue for solving conflicts and lets you and your neighbors garden in harmony.


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Elaine W.
Past Member 2 years ago

I always enjoy driving by a community garden planted in a formerly weed infested empty lot. Makes me feel good for people who don't have space at home.

Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

suzie c.
suzie c2 years ago


Roslyn McBride
Roslyn McBride2 years ago

Glad to say I don't do any gardening.

Carol S.
Carol S2 years ago

Good advice

Margie FOURIE2 years ago

I would love to have a pavement/sidewalk veggie garden for those who pass and need veggies. Must do it.

Olga Nycz-Shirley

Interesting article . Thanks.