Visiting the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden®

This beautiful green space has something to see in all seasons.

Adjacent to the headquarters of Better Homes & Gardens' parent company, Dotdash Meredith, the BHG Test Garden is located at the corner of Grand Avenue and 15th Street in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The Test Garden serves as a display garden, a testing ground for plants, a photography studio for our company's publications and websites, and a venue for corporate events. This working space is open to the public for self-guided tours on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. from May to September. (Groups of 10 or more may schedule guided tours during the open hours by appointment. Call 515-284-3994 to make a reservation.) See a few highlights below to get a sense of what's in the garden.


Better Homes and Gardens

The Courtyard

When you visit the Test Garden, enter through our main gate on the south side of the gardens. Descend a few steps and join fellow garden enthusiasts for a stroll along the main path, or sit in our central courtyard under a ring of mature crabapple trees. A custom-made glass and steel fountain is our central focal point, while scattered benches and patio tables make for comfortable lounging.

BHG Test Garden pathways
Carson Downing

The Mixed Perennial Border

A small flagstone path loops through a border garden, and a variety of perennials gives it color spring through fall. Bulbs emerge here first, then a series of perennials. Later, the show will become a little more dramatic as grasses grow tall and summer blooms reach their peak.

BHG Test Garden shade garden
Carson Downing

The Shade Garden

This area is especially lovely in spring, as is typical of woodland gardens. Before the trees' canopy closes in with foliage, woodland plants such as bleeding heart and Brunnera flower. At the same time, hostas and heucheras expand and eventually cover the ground.


Better Homes and Gardens

The Vegetable and Herb Garden

In the sunniest corner of the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden®, a mix of vegetables and herbs are planted in raised beds. The Test Garden plants in beds because of the many benefits of raised bed gardens: they provide a longer growing season, promote healthier soil, and they keep your garden clean and compact. Not to mention, raised beds will save your back. In the Test Garden, there are always plenty of fragrant herbs to sniff (like basil, sage, and chives), plus you can get a sneak peek at some of the newest vegetables we trial every year.

BHG Test Garden Logo

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there restrooms in the BHG Test Garden?

    No, we don't have facilities on site. The nearest public restroom is in a convenience store a block away.

  • Do you have food available for purchase in the BHG Test Garden?

    No, we do not sell anything in the garden, but guests are welcome to bring a lunch or nonalcoholic beverage to enjoy on a bench in the garden during our public open hours. Just note, you need to carry out your trash as there are no receptacles in the garden.

  • Is the BHG Test Garden wheelchair accessible?

    The main path around the garden is wheelchair accessible. However, because there is a short set of stairs to reach the path from the main entrance, the best wheelchair and stroller access is from the gate on the north side of the garden adjacent to Grand Avenue. Please notify staff, who will need to unlock this gate to allow access.

  • May pets come into the garden?

    Only service animals are permitted in the Test Garden.

  • Can I take pictures in the Test Garden?

    Because the Test Garden is used for business photography and video, professional/commercial photography such as wedding portraits and senior pictures is not permitted. However, you are welcome to take photos for your personal use.

  • Is the Test Garden available for private events?

    The Test Garden is not available for private events such as weddings, family reunions, or graduation parties.

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