Visiting the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden

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

The Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden® is open to visitors on Fridays from noon to 2 pm, May through September 30, 2022.*

Adjacent to the headquarters of Better Homes & Gardens' parent company, Dotdash Meredith, the 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, and a photography studio for our company's publications and websites. This working space is open to the public for self-guided tours on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. from May 20, 2022 to September 30, 2022. (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.

*The Test Garden is closed to visitors on Friday, July 1, 2022 for the Independence Day holiday.


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, 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.


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 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.

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