The Best Cities for Gardening
April showers bring May flowers. That means it’s planting season for home gardening enthusiasts across the country. While that’s often the purview of homeowners with big backyards and front lawn flowerbeds, renters shouldn’t feel left out.
There are all sorts of ways to enjoy gardening as an apartment dweller. Planting indoors? No matter your apartment’s lighting, there’s a plant for all situations. Lettuce, arugula and beans, for example, thrive in lower indoor light and small containers, perfect for a window sill.
But if your apartment has an outdoor space, that opens up all sorts of options for what you can grow and how much of it. Flowerbeds and planters are great on patios, porches and in small backyard spaces. And if you’re lucky, your complex or neighborhood might even have a community garden.
Apartment gardening is a fun, safe, inexpensive hobby. It will keep you occupied while you’re working from home. It will also be a great excuse to get up off the couch or out of your office chair to give them a good watering. And growing your own veggies can save you a trip to the grocery store and lead to a healthier diet.
Finding the best cities for gardening
But what are the best cities for gardening? A good gauge of a city’s gardening promise is the number of professionals available to help you on your harvesting journey. A city’s climate is also a key factor.
To determine the best cities for gardening, we ranked every U.S. city with over 200,000 people based on the robustness of its home gardening industry. Each city was scored based on its number of garden centers, landscape supply stores and plant nurseries, calculated both on the number of garden businesses per square mile and per capita to create an overall accessibility score. Then each city’s average low temperature was plugged into the formula, as cold temperatures minimize growing ability.
We combined and weighed these factors and ranked the scores to determine the best cities for gardening. The following are the best 10.
Make no mistake. Reno is not the open, arid desert of other southwest towns like Las Vegas or Phoenix. The Biggest Little City in northern Nevada in the Sierra Nevada high desert has distinct seasons and cooler temps. In fact, Reno’s average minimum temperature is 36.26 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest of any city in the top 10 by far. It’s also the third-coldest of any qualifying city, despite over 300 days of sun a year.
But Renoites love to garden, indoors and out. Despite finishing at the bottom of the top 10, it offers the highest number of landscaping supply stores per square mile of any qualifying city. It’s also home of the beloved Moana Nursery, one of the 20 best plant nurseries in the nation. The popular plant and garden chain offers four Reno garden and design centers.
Reno is a popular and growing city with many sites for locals and tourists. Living this close to Lake Tahoe increases demand, and rents with it. A one-bedroom Reno apartment leases for an average of $1,515 each month.
Living in the desert doesn’t mean you have to limit your home garden to cacti, nightshade and brittlebush. In fact, beautiful Tucson is a home gardener’s dream, a sandy oasis where people grow indoors. The temperature and climate are predictable, there is plenty of open-air, humidity-free indoor fresh breezes and a long history of turning the desert green.
But there’s a downside to desert home gardening. The fact is most plants need more humidity than Tucson naturally offers. To combat this, keep plants and vegetables well watered. It is recommended to give plats a consistent spray with water misters. You can also place plants near a humidifier or in a bathroom that has natural light.
Your apartment can contain what Arizonans refer to as cool-season crops and warm-season crops. In the desert, the growing season is year-round. And your garden apartment is also affordable in the Arizona Sun Corridor. An average one-bedroom runs an inexpensive $977 monthly.
Fun fact: When Peyton Manning used to yell “Omaha” at the line of scrimmage, he was celebrating his love for the city’s gardening prowess. That’s, of course, not true, but Omaha is the best city for gardening in the entire Great Plains.
Home gardening in the center of the country comes with its own unique, positive circumstances. The climate keeps you away from the humidity and heat of the coasts. Even harsh seasons are predictable to an extent. And both healthy soil and expertise are abundant in the Breadbasket of America.
The city is big on home food gardening culture, too. Two popular non-profit organizations in Omaha — Big Garden and City Sprouts — focus on teaching Omahans how to grow their own food garden skills. They also offer seed share programs and encourage community garden cooperatives. Locally iconic Mulhall’s Nursery ranked as one of the top 100 independent garden centers in the nation.
The Great Plains location is also an affordable place to live. Find a great one-bedroom for you and your indoor garden for just $982 a month on average.
There are three distinct gardening zones in Florida. South Florida is wet and tropical. Northern Florida and the Panhandle can have cold snaps like Georgia or North Texas. But right in the middle is the Central Gardening Zone and its midway city of Orlando. Perfect like Goldilocks.
The climate in Central Florida — heat, humidity, drought, pests — is harsh for growing vegetables and indoor gardens. But with the right setup and seeds, you can make it in Orlando. Start with artichokes, okra, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peas. You can augment this with a small herb garden for the summer. In fall, start on onions, radishes, turnips, carrots, strawberries and spinach.
One of Orlando’s most beloved garden shops is The Plant Studio at Outside Stimuli, a local, community-based shop downtown. It’s a trendy garden-lovers haven focuses on the indoor gardener. Alternatively, consider hydroponics. Growing plants without soil is the specialty at one of the nation’s top 40 plant nurseries, Root Grow Bloom of Orlando. The gardening staple has been showing gardening fans how to beat the Florida soil for two decades.
No one is going to garden like the folks do over at the massive Disney and Universal theme parks. Nearly 12 percent of Walt Disney World is gardens and landscapes. That’s equal to nearly 3,000 football fields. But, you can start at home in your apartment. Rent for a one-bedroom unit leases for a monthly average of $1,818.
It’s full of grand flower bouquets tossed into the air during Mardi Gras and sweeping gardens of the aptly named Garden District. But New Orleans isn’t the King of Louisiana gardening. That’s the state capital Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge has its own Cajun and Creole vibe in the Nola tradition. Only further away from the Gulf’s swampy humidity, among fewer inebriated tourists and in a smaller city. In fact, Baton Rouge has the smallest population of any city in the top 10 and the eighth smallest in the study overall.
But what Baton Rouge also has that New Orleans doesn’t is a massive state college. That means access to Louisiana State University’s outstanding AgCenter, and its master gardener, horticulturalist Kathryn Fontenot. Her advice for the home indoor gardener?
“As long as the container can hold eight inches of soil, you can grow a vegetable plant,” she says in her book “Louisiana Urban Gardener, A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Vegetables and Herbs.”
Looking for some inspiration? Visit the LSU AgCenter’s Burden Museum and Gardens.
The other big difference from New Orleans? An apartment for planting your urban garden is much cheaper. Baton Rouge is the cheapest city for renters in the top 10. An average one-bedroom runs just $913 a month.
Ah yes, the well-known garden paradise of… Pittsburgh. The Steel City is much more Midwest than it is Northeast Corridor. Its climate isn’t quite as harsh as Upstate New York to its north or the Great Lakes to its west. Its average minimum temp is a reasonable 43 degrees Fahrenheit. And having shed its dank steel mill persona, it’s a shining and bright city full of trees, flowers and gardens.
But what does it take to grow a great apartment garden in Pittsburgh? Perhaps ask the experts at the Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County cooperative. The Penn State Cooperative Extension trains the all-volunteer organization. The group assists many community groups with a variety of garden and gardening projects and offers demonstrations around Alleghany County.
One of the benefits of setting up your home garden in Pittsburgh is the price. A one-bedroom apartment isn’t as expensive as its neighbors across the state on the East Coast, or among other Midwest metropolises. The rent monthly is an average of $1,469.
Yes, the glitzy city radiating out from the Strip is the best city for gardening of any in the West. While many only think of Vegas as the land of gleaming casinos and tourist attractions, it’s a livable city and one of the nation’s fastest-growing. If you’re looking for a big city to enjoy apartment gardening, look no further. Vegas is the most populous city among the 25 best cities for gardening.
A big population supports a lot of businesses. In fact, Las Vegas ties for offering the most garden businesses of any city in the top 10 and third most of all cities. Highlights include the most landscaping supply stores in any qualifying city and a tie for the most garden centers.
While Vegas is a western metropolis, it’s still an arid, desert destination. That means watering plants and beds early and often. Keep the soil moist on the bottom even as it dries out on top, worrying less about too much sunlight. Some Vegas favorites include basil, tomatoes, summer squash and sunflowers. Planting in late summer can provide the best results but the season can stretch from mid-February to late November. And be aware of the region’s highly alkaline soil if you’re planting outdoors.
Despite Las Vegas’ ever-booming population, the supply of rental housing is keeping up. That means rent prices aren’t through the roof. A one-bedroom rents for $1,585 a month on average.
Gulf Coast climates flip the growing season away from the harsh summer heat to the mild winters. Tampa is no different. The Central Florida city has the second-highest average minimum temperature of any qualifying U.S. city and the fourth-highest overall. That makes Tampa winters perfect for growing.
Tampa is also a friendly garden business city, ensuring plenty of places for supplies and assistance. The city has the most garden businesses of any city in the top 10, and third-most overall. It’s tied for the most garden centers of all studied cities with 41 and has the overall highest number of nurseries with 18. It also has the highest number of nurseries per square mile, over twice that of No. 2 Omaha.
Despite the Gulfside humidity and heat, there’s plenty you can grow in a Tampa apartment. Start your indoor growing in seed trays for peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and more. These plants thrive by a window sill perfect in your living room. And the Florida-affordable average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Tampa runs just under $1,600 a month.
The best city for gardening in the entire northern U.S.? Why it’s Cincinnati. The city straddles the Midwest and the South, right on the border with Kentucky. So, it figures the Queen City might be a great place for an apartment garden on the milder end of Ohio winters.
The people of Cincinnati consider themselves expert green thumbers. And that’s reflected in its high concentration of garden centers. It’s tied for the most overall garden centers among the top 10 and fourth most of any city overall. In fact, Cincinnati has the highest number of garden centers per square mile of any qualifying city.
From Sayler Park to Madisonville, there’s a garden center near almost every Cincinnatian including A.J. Rahn Greenhouses. Founded in 1890 it’s one of the nation’s oldest and best nurseries.
Two of the great things about Cincinnati are chili and Midwest prices. You can grow beanless chili ingredients for your five-way right in your apartment, and you won’t spend a lot to do it. A one-bedroom apartment averages $1,302 monthly.
The best city for gardening in the entire country is Miami. There’s no city in the country more suited for the growing season. Miami has the highest per capita availability of garden centers, landscaping stores and nurseries of any city in the U.S. Indeed, it has nearly twice the number of nurseries of No. 2 Tampa. And it also enjoys the country’s highest average minimum temperature among cities in the study. That’s a perfect combination for your apartment garden.
Miami’s reputation as hot and humid won’t limit your home garden’a success. In fact, the tropical climate opens up opportunities to grow exotic plants, fruits and vegetables not available in other cities. If you have the space, you can grow bananas, jackfruit, sapodilla and grumichama (and maybe even small coconut palms). It also offers a long winter growing season from September to March.
But while it’s the best city for gardening, it’s not a cheap one. Miami is by far the most expensive rental city on this list, and among the nation’s priciest. An average one-bedroom apartment rents for $2,834 a month.
Top 50 cities for gardening
Gardening has many health benefits, both physical and mental. And of course, there’s no greater joy than being able to enjoy the literal fruits of your labor. See where your city lands on the 50 best cities for gardening around the US.
|Rank||City, State||Garden Center, Density Score||Garden Center, per Capita Score||Landscaping, Density Score||Landscaping, per Capita Score||Nurserymen, Density Score||Nurserymen, per Capita||Total Score|
|4||Las Vegas, NV||6.49||6.10||12.61||13.61||0.97||0.76||48.99|
|6||Baton Rouge, LA||10.98||6.05||8.29||5.34||0.00||0.00||40.73|
|14||Corpus Christi, TX||3.98||1.51||2.80||1.28||6.80||2.24||31.24|
|17||Santa Ana, CA||0.97||2.91||2.75||7.62||1.91||3.81||29.18|
|24||Fort Wayne, IN||7.28||3.39||3.38||1.85||4.69||1.85||26.68|
|34||San Francisco, CA||1.14||5.14||0.00||0.00||1.80||5.47||21.22|
|45||San Antonio, TX||3.45||2.27||0.29||0.22||2.05||1.12||19.95|
|49||New Orleans, LA||3.00||1.31||0.00||0.00||2.44||0.91||19.01|
To determine the best cities for gardening, cities were ranked based on the number of garden centers, landscape supply stores and nurseries (nurserymen) both per 100,000 residents and per square mile. A measure of a city’s minimum average temperature was also considered. Per capita and per square mile calculations along with minimum temperatures were scaled and scored on a weighted system with a 60/40 split between combined retail establishments and temperature respectively. Rankings are based on a city’s total score.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of April 2022. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.