I’ve been a backyard guerilla marijuana grower for nine years, most of them in states where I’d have gone to jail a long time if they caught me. The states had good enough weather so I could put my plants out in the backyard for 4-8 months per year.
For sure I’ve taken dumb risks and had some close calls, but so far I’ve never been raided or ripped off. I’ve saved a lot of money on electricity and hydroponics supplies, and grown several pounds per outdoor season.
Here are some tactics I use to haul in big marijuana harvests from my backyard without losing my freedom or getting robbed:
- Install the tallest fence you’re legally allowed to install, and make sure it’s board on board, vinyl, or some other material that nobody can see through. Check with local code enforcement to make sure your fence height is ok. In some municipalities, you can put up a six foot high solid fence and then add a foot or two of lattice on top of that. The higher the fence, the better. Make sure to put in rock-solid, lockable gates and latches.
- Take quiet walks around your neighborhood during day and night for several weeks. Watch your neighbors’ patterns of outdoor behavior. Look at street life, traffic, pedestrians, loiterers. If you can do it safely, go into the yards of your neighbors on the back and all sides, and the streets behind you and in front of your house, and look at the line of sight into your property from various angles. Could someone see into your back yard? Do any of your neighbors have multi-story houses that look down on your backyard? Do any of your neighbors or street traffic passers-by seem snoopy or overly curious?
- Go up on your roof and scope out the neighborhood. Try to think like a cop, a ripper, a narky neighbor. Watch patterns of helicopter and small plane traffic. Do they go directly above your yard often? If so, that’s a security risk you’ll have a hard time defeating. See your property through their eyes, and look for security holes.For example, when I was on my roof I noticed that the family two houses down had a tree house high in a very tall tree and the kids were in it…with binoculars, looking all around! They could see into my yard, even though I had a seven-foot fence. I adjusted where I put my plants, accordingly. And I’m looking forward to the time when those kids grow up and out of their tree house!
- Carefully monitor the backyard area you intend to grow in, keeping records of where direct sunlight hits, for how many hours per day, at what times of the day and year. The sun and earth dance around each other, so you’ll notice that the length and location of direct sunlight in your backyard changes drastically over the course of 12 months. You might have eight hours of full sun on your patio during some months, but during harvest time, when the sun is tracking lower on the horizon, the sun may not make it past the roof of your house. Lack of direct sun = smaller harvests and less THC.
- Take a look at trees that could be shading your grow. Trees are valuable because they provide shade, oxygen, wildlife habitat, and camouflage that can prevent aerial surveillance, but too much shade robs your marijuana plants of the light they need so you might have to employ a skilled arborist (or learn tree skills yourself) to cut specific branches so you have more direct sun.Your outdoor marijuana plants need a minimum of seven hours per day direct sunlight if you expect rapid growth and big yields from them. And that’s just a minimum. Speaking of trees, some growers put marijuana-growing platforms in trees and raise and lower supplies and plants via a pulley system. You have to engineer the tree canopy to allow direct light onto your grow platforms, but in some specialized cases (especially remote guerilla grows), tree growing makes sense and can be very safe and productive…because most cops and rippers don’t think to look up to find marijuana plants.
- Make a list of your neighbors and rate them as regards whether they’re security risks, and figure out a strategy for how to deal with them if they are security risks.One place I lived, I had a neighbor, “Davey,” who was a heavy marijuana user but he was too scared to be a marijuana grower, in part because his big, fat “Christian” wife hates marijuana. Somehow he figured out I too used marijuana and was always asking me if I could get him some. I always told him: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But he persisted in bugging me about it.One day he as much as told me that if I didn’t start selling him or “giving” him marijuana from “them plants you have back there,” he’d nark me out or just steal marijuana from me. It meant that he had been trespassing onto my property. I had a completely sealed patio grow area and the only way he could have seen the plants is by entering my property when I wasn’t home.
Until then, I had engaged in what I suddenly realized was careless behavior by leaving my marijuana plants out on the patio by themselves while I did errands away from the house.
I realized I had to put up a security fence around my whole yard (front and back), put up yet another cam so I could view Davey’s points of access, and not leave my marijuana plants outside unattended.
This meant I had to move the plants in and out a lot more, and I lose some hours of sun too. It sucks that a nefarious outsider can cause a marijuana grower so many problems. But that’s part of the roll of the dice you get whenever you bring your marijuana plants outdoors. Beware of your neighbors!
- Install outside infrared security cameras. It costs about $1600 to put up a quality surveillance system, but it’s worth it to be able to sit inside your home and have a near-360 degree view of what’s going on outside. You can hook it up to the Internet or a digital recorder so you can monitor what’s up when you’re away from the house.Also consider motion detectors inside and out, as well as window and door sensors. They give you added peace of mind. For more security tips that can protect marijuana growers at home, on their way to the hydroponics store, and elsewhere, I suggest you purchase and watch this “Never Get Busted” DVD tell-all series created by a former drug cop.
- Get white Hydrofarm pots. Black pots are wrong to use outdoors because sunlight burns into them and fries your marijuana roots.
- Before you put your marijuana plants outside, dust or spray your outside growing area with boric acid. Then spray with a fungicide. It’s a good idea to build a deck or excavate land and put down ground cloth and sterile rocks or shell on top of that so your plants are sitting on as pest-free, mold-free, fungi-free ground as possible. Monitor closely for mites, thrips, aphids, ants, roaches, spiders, grasshoppers, munchers (rabbits, deer, etc.), caterpillars, and other organisms that love to eat your outdoor marijuana plants.
- Foliar feed and foliar protect. Growing outdoors gives you the perfect opportunity to spray your plants frequently, which is something you can’t do so easily in an indoor marijuana garden. My spray is pH 5.7, with reverse osmosis water, and doesn’t exceed 200 ppm. I use a combo of Rhino Skin (potassium silicate), B-52, and a very small amount of whatever base nutrients formula I’m using.Spray your marijuana plants when they’re in shade, and make sure their leaves dry out before you put them back in direct sun. Water droplets act as magnifiers on leaves and can cause leaf burn.Spray once or twice a week, especially if you live in a place with lots of air pollution. If you’re plagued by mites, thrips, powdery mildew or other evil shit, spray with Organocide liquid that stops pests and diseases. But if you’re past a couple of weeks into bloom phase, stop foliar spraying and foliar feeding. You don’t want to smoke what you spray on your marijuana plants, and it does stay there on your buds.
- Use the biggest size pots you can handle, but of course gauge them for your grow season. In general, a 10-20 gallon pot outdoors is going to be a good choice, if you can’t just plant in the ground or in a raised bed. Hydrofarm’s white pots don’t get quite that big, so I recommend you either paint larger pots white, or dig a hole in the ground and put the pots in. This helps keep your root zone from getting too hot.Speaking of too-hot root zones, your marijuana roots don’t like anything much over 70F. On very hot days, chill your nutrients water to 68F and use watering to help your roots defeat heat stress. Use beneficial microbes such as Voodoo Juice, Tarantula, and Piranha, feed the microbes with Bud Candy, and use a Vitamin B formula such as Organic B to further protect your outdoor marijuana roots.
- Because you have your house and plants right next to each other, you can force your plants to flower early by artificially controlling the number of hours per day they get light. You can take them indoors after they’ve been in 12 hours of daylight, and stick them in a totally dark room for the other 12 hours. After your marijuana plants have gotten more than three feet tall and they have large root size, that’s a good time to force them to flower.Of course, if you want to let them go until autumn, they’ll get bigger and bigger and give you larger harvests. But it’s a nice idea to shorten your backyard grow season by growing your marijuana plants until they’re three feet tall or taller, and then forcing them to flower so you harvest in August or early September rather than late September, or in October.This benefits you because you bring in your harvest before the big outdoor harvest overload comes in, and because your marijuana plants don’t have to go through the cloudiness, rain, high humidity, mites, rippers, molds, mildews and other problems that sometimes arise outdoors in autumn. Or you can shorten your outdoor grow season by planting autoflowering marijuana. Read more about that here.
Outdoor marijuana growing gives you free light, wind, water, and lots of space for your marijuana roots to get huge so you grow marijuana trees that yield pounds per plant. Growing marijuana outdoors in your back yard gives you some advantages and disadvantages compared to guerilla outdoor cannabis growing and indoor marijuana growing. Put safety first, and consider the tips and experiences in this article. I hope you harvest big weight of buds dripping with THC!