Element of Surprise

Element of Surprise
Guerrilla yardwork utilizes the element of surprise to launch small, repetitive, and unpredictable attacks on Bad Nature’s vulnerable spots at unpredictable times.
Photo by Paul-W

Without exception the guerrilla yardworker carries out her attacks in a surprise fashion; without the element of surprise guerrilla yardwork loses its essence. The absence of prior warning or indication as to the time, location, and manner of attack assures surprise. The hour of the day, the day of the week, the week of the month, the month of the year, and the season must be unpredictable or even seemingly senseless. The G.Y. attacks in any area of her yard she deems vulnerable or where an offensive is necessary. She avoids attacking in any chronological or geographical pattern other than when the time is right and the location fits the strategic outlook. On occasion, she may even attack when or where she feels like.


The element of surprise hinges on timing. The guerrilla yardworker strikes to seize and maintain initiative, attacking in the time that is right for her and wrong for Bad Nature. Because this cannot always be achieved, the G.Y. determines the time of battle based on other considerations, especially convenience.

Withholding attack when it’s most expected can also come as a surprise. When everyone expects the G.Y. to launch an attack, as when weeds are several inches tall and beg for removal, not weeding can be unexpected. When the attack eventually does take place, the perceived delay or wrongness of its timing makes it all the more surprising. With delay each engagement gains in importance and intensity.

Target Selection

After selecting the time of attack, the G.Y. must choose her target. The yardwork guerrilla keeps an assortment of targets on hand at all times. Not only does the yard naturally offer multiple projects and tasks to tackle, wide target selection allows for accommodating the guerrilla’s personal disposition (energy level, thirst and hunger, mood), weather, and other circumstances (season, time of day, available length of time, checklist priority). It also facilitates the element of surprise: the enemy never knows which target will be hit.

The yardwork guerrilla concentrates her attacks on the enemy’s flank—areas adjacent to those already under her control. The head-on attack entails tackling a task directly and without hesitation, e.g. pulling weeds, cleaning gutters, and trimming shrubs (in the case of plants, cutting off roots, vital branches, or useful parts such as leafs, flowers, or fruits, effectively disrupts their supply lines). By contrast, encirclement entails working from the perimeter of the attack area toward the center.

* Excerpted from the book. Buy Guerrilla Yardwork: The First-Time Home Owner’s Handbook now on Amazon or CreateSpace.