The Discreet Personal Marijuana Cultivator: 3 Tips for Keeping Your Home Grow on the Down Low

Okay, so you live in a place where you can grow your own marijuana plants without fear of arrest and now you want to take advantage of your newfound freedom. You still have good reason not to advertise what you're up to, and we have some tips for keeping that home grow away from prying eyes--and some nice illustrative photos.


Even if marijuana is legal, not everyone approves, and at the same time, others may find the fruits of your labors tempting. Whether it's nosy neighbors, sticky-fingered area teens (who'll be doubly sticky-fingered if they're messing with your budding plants), or local officials waving ordinances and citation books, there's no need to advertise what you're up to.

There are some relatively easy steps you can take to keep that grow on the down low. I employed all three of the following in my own three-plant personal grow. (The harvest is still curing, but it looks like I'm going to end up with four or five pounds of manicured buds by the time all is said and done—enough to keep me out of the pot shops and make some of my friends very happy, too.)

1. The Screen of Green

Sometimes, building a fence is just too obvious. Faced with an open field and an office building parking lot behind where I wanted to grow, I hid my plants from prying eyes by constructing a framework on which I could support plantings of corn and scarlet runner beans. It was cheap and easy: I screwed 8-foot 2x4s into some saw horses, then set 6-foot bamboo poles into the ground about a foot apart along the 2x4s. I then tied the poles to the 2x4s and ran lengths of twine horizontally across the poles so plants would spread not just up, but across the framework.

My green screen was just a simple straight line, but you can shape it as needed. You could make an angled wall o' green to block the view from a couple of angles or even a complete square—depending on where you need to obscure visual access and how much room you have.

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Above, you can see the simple construction framework of sawhorses, 2x4s, and bamboo poles. This is early in the screen's life, before leaves spread out everywhere.

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Above, the green screen in full bloom. Do you see the pot plants behind there? Neither do I. 

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And here's what's behind the screen: One OG Kush plant on the left and two Sour Diesels.

2. Backgrounding

If you're going to grow bright green plants, camouflage them by growing them in front of a variety of other green plants. Bushy marijuana plants on a barren field are going to shriek out their presence, but surrounding your plants with other greenery is going to make them look like they're just another part of a verdant ensemble.

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Above, note the greenery around and behind the pot plants. It helps them blend in, and you can do it better than I did. 

3. Grow Low

For your personal grow, you don't need 12-foot-tall monster pot plants. Just one of them is going to produce more weed than you'll know what to do with, and 12-foot pot plants stand out like, well, 12-foot pot plants. Note that the plants I grew are no more than four feet tall. I kept them short not by starving them of water or nutrients, but by pruning the main stem, which causes them to bush out, not grow upward (as much as if left alone). Shorter plants are easier to obscure amongst the surrounding foliage.

If you're really dedicated, you can physically train your plants to grow more sideways than up by tying down branches. But this kind of plant body modification requires daily attention and daily tying down of new growth. The cool thing is, if you do this, you can end up with a row of flowering colas popping up in a row along a horizontal branch. 

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Above, note that these colas are all barely above the height of the 2x4s on the green screen framework. Shorter plants are less visible plants. 

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