It’s that time of year when the days are getting warmer and longer. With spring’s arrival, you may feel the need to open your windows and spend more time outdoors. There is a lot going on in the greener parts of the city, and the Gardens at Lake Merritt are a perfect example of an area revving up its engine for the onset of spring.

Mediterranean Garden

Plants are growing like crazy, flowers are budding and blooming, and the busy pollinators are kicking it into overdrive. With all this action going on in the Gardens, it’s no wonder you are feeling the itch to get outside. So here is the perfect opportunity: Come join us in the Gardens this spring as a volunteer gardener! There’s no better way to explore the gardens than by digging in and getting your hands dirty, and no better way to celebrate the spring season than experiencing it the way the plants and pollinators do.

Some of our fantastic volunteers enjoying their day

The Gardens staff is super busy and stretched very thin across the many green areas of Oakland managed by the city. Without the dedicated efforts of volunteers from the Oakland community, the Gardens at Lake Merritt wouldn’t be the “hidden jewel in the heart of the city” that it is today. When you volunteer you will get to perform garden maintenance and make enhancements in the form of digging, weeding, pruning, planting, and more. You can volunteer for as few or as many hours as you like, and will work alongside other fun and friendly people in a beautiful and peaceful setting.

Sensory Garden

No experience? No tools? No problem. As long as you don’t mind getting up close and personal with soil and the plant and animal life that call it home, you will be warmly welcomed and tools and gloves will be provided for you. Nancy Erb, one of the Gardens’ volunteer all-stars, says she always provides snacks for volunteers and sometimes even distributes lunch coupons donated by area eateries. She can also give plenty of tips on how to make a real difference in the gardens as a volunteer.

Volunteer all-stars Ann Nichols, Kazumi Anderson, Nancy Erb, and Carole Levenson

When I asked Nancy what she likes best about volunteering at the Gardens, she responded, “I like working with other good-hearted, generous people who share my vision for the Gardens as a place of beauty, peace, and inspiration for Oakland residents. Oaklanders need beauty, joy, and peace in their lives.”

Here is our current monthly volunteer work day schedule:

First Saturday of each month, 9am-noon – Mediterranean Garden

First Saturday of each month, 9am – 1:30pm – Succulent Garden

Third Saturday of each month, 9am- noon – Sensory Gardens, Palmetum, and the Rhododendron Garden

Every Thursday 9am-noon – Pollinator Garden, Succulent Garden, and others as needed

Send us an email or sign-up online and let us know your availability!

Edible Garden: If you’re interested in gardening at an Edible Garden; the Victory Garden Foundation’s People’s Victory Garden will have mentored gardening days on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays. Please see the Event Calendar for the month of April at