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Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

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Address: 1716 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309-3038
Phone Number:
+1 515-284-3994

Right in the heart of the city is a half-block long blaze of beauty -...

Right in the heart of the city is a half-block long blaze of beauty - Better Homes and Gardens' testing ground for various landscape designs that the company documents and photographs. The area is one large area made of many mini-backyards, complete with annuals, perennials, bulbs and typical backyard structures like fences and gates.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 36 reviews
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  • 22
  • 9
    Very good
  • 3
  • 1
  • 1
Absolutely breathtaking!

I was so excited to tour this beautiful place! The visiting hours/days are extremely limited, so go when you can....it is so worth the trip. You literally feel like Alice in... read more

Reviewed 13 October 2016
Tempe, Arizona
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36 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 36: English reviews
Tempe, Arizona
Level Contributor
412 reviews
125 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 October 2016

I was so excited to tour this beautiful place! The visiting hours/days are extremely limited, so go when you can....it is so worth the trip. You literally feel like Alice in Wonderland, and in the most perfect way. The garden is lush and beautiful....so many things to see that you really do need a few hours to stroll through and... More 

Thank Hannahbears_mom
San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 September 2016

Words can't describe how enchanting this space is. Not only does it provide a restful garden space inside the city, it offers practical solutions for the home gardener. The keeper of the garden is knowledgeable and gracious. The only down side is the limited public viewing time, but this is a working photography site for the magazine, after all. It... More 

Thank SantoneBibi
Little Rock, Arkansas
Level Contributor
180 reviews
72 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 August 2016

The test garden is only open on Fridays between noon and 2:00 p.m. It's a lovely place to visit and knowledgeable staff is on hand to give you suggestions for all of your planting needs, from ground cover to growing vegetables on your porch. The plants and trees are labeled so you know what you're looking at. The central area... More 

1 Thank ARretired
Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
37 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 June 2016

The gardens are well tended. There were many gardeners nearby to answer any and all of your questions. The flowers are typically grown in Iowa so it's good to see what will grow well in the area. It's only open for 2 hours daily so check the website before going. There are areas for picnics under the shade trees next... More 

1 Thank MSAAB
Lincoln, Nebraska
Level Contributor
156 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 June 2016

Visited on the first Friday they were open to the season to the public on May 6. Test garden is a beautiful place to walk through. Enjoyed the courtyard in the middle where you could just sit and relax and take it all in after strolling through the garden. All the displays gives a gardener wonderful ideas on how to... More 

2 Thank Bonnie F
Bettendorf, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2016

I was excited about the opportunity to see the test garden because I do read Better Homes and Gardens. However, it was a disappointment. There was no signage to help identify plants. The area is small and not as well maintained as I would have expected. Sitting in downtown Des Moines surrounded by concrete walls, I had to wonder how... More 

1 Thank Ladonna C
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2016 via mobile

I made my husband take a special trip with me to see these gardens, because I really wanted to visit here. Not knowing that these gardens are only open to the public on Fridays, we went to the gates that were open, so we naturally walked in. We were quickly run off by a grumpy gardener that said we can't... More 

1 Thank Heather M
Level Contributor
20 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 January 2016

Tricky to time your visit when they are open, but so worth it if you can manage to do it. Better Homes and Gardens uses this garden for many pictures in their publications, and also tests plant varieties here. Beautiful fountain.

Thank IndigoFountains
Urbandale, Iowa
Level Contributor
85 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 December 2015

I expected much more due to reviews and Trip Advisor ranking. This is a small set of gardens tucked away surrounded by offices and sidewalks. I found the gardens less than appealing. To be honest, some of my beds are nicer. The flower selection wasn't unique either.

2 Thank Diana R
Des Moines, Iowa
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 October 2015

There is nothing to unlike about a garden used for testing by internationally known publication. I RAVE about this hidden gem!

1 Thank mimabeelia

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Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden and other visitors
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Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?