While gardening has always been a popular hobby, the ongoing pandemic has spurred massive growth in the gardening industry, benefiting enterprises like plant nurseries, garden supply stores, and seed companies.
Factors including grocery shortages, the rising cost of goods, the fact of being stuck at home during lockdowns, and the need for stress-relieving activities have all encouraged many home gardeners to spend more time planting vegetables and flowers. In addition, younger people who’d never gardened before tried it for the first time during the pandemic. (Gardening can be good exercise, too. These are the 50 most physically active cities in America.)
Those living in rural or suburban areas are more likely to have space to plant gardens, but urban gardeners can find room to grow things as well by joining community gardens or planting in yards or in containers on stoops, balconies, rooftops, fire escapes, even windowsills.
Depending on climate and amenities, though, some cities are more conducive to gardening than others. To identify the 30 best cities for urban gardening in 2022, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a ranking created by LawnStarter, a lawn-care start-up that conducts research into city and state amenities.
Drawing on data from Almanac, the American Community Gardening Association, National Garden Clubs, Inc., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Yelp, LawnStarter ranked 196 of the largest American cities across 13 metrics, differently weighted, in four key categories: gardening space (measuring both average yard size and number of community gardens per 100,000 residents), supplies (nurseries, garden supply stores, etc.), climate (length of growing season and other factors), and community (number of gardening clubs and groups, among other factors).
Most of the best cities for urban gardening, not surprisingly, are in the South and West, where the climate is milder and the growing season is longer. Four each are in Georgia and Tennessee, where cities scored highly in categories that ranked gardening communities and access to public and private gardening space. (Those who want greenery but don’t have room to garden even on a small scale might want to visit one of America’s largest city parks.)
Northern outliers include New York City, Cincinnati, and Worcester, Massachusetts – all of which have particularly good access to gardening space. St. Louis scored best overall, capturing the top spot in the ranking for garden space, and also ranking highly for access to gardening supplies and community.