Gardening Gone Wrong: Cities Most Likely to Kill Plants

By Tree Expert Codey Stout
Published On

While many homeowners are out trimming their trees and mowing during this warm season, many are also planting flowers to add a pop of color to their yards. Others try to grow food like tomatoes or strawberries as the gardening season enters full bloom. Gardening is one of America’s biggest hobbies with 87% of people taking part every spring and summer. 

We surveyed 1,000 American homeowners to learn more about their gardening habits. People are willing to drop a good chunk of money on plants, but they don’t seem to know the best methods to keep their plants alive, especially when it comes to watering.

America’s Gardening Habits

Health and Environmental Impact of Gardening - report from

Gardening is a nearly universal passion with just slightly more women (88%) than men (85%) doing it. While 89% of people who garden live in rural areas, those in suburban and urban settings aren’t far behind with 86% enjoying this pastime. People garden mainly for fun, but 38% do it for their mental health and to reduce stress.

On average, homeowners spend $172 on plants annually. However, after bringing the plants home not everyone keeps them alive. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) have overwatered or underwatered a plant! While a little more than half (52%) blame it on a lack of knowledge, 60% admitted they just forgot!

Some Americans feel like they’re cursed when it comes to keeping plants alive. In fact, nearly 1 in 6 (14%) feel they kill every plant they try to grow. Gen Z identifies with this more than any other generation! But certain cities also struggle with this predicament – turning to Google to try and figure out what’s wrong with their plants. We determined the cities where people are most likely to kill plants based on the ones searching the most about plant problems. 

Spokane tops the list. This may be because people living there also must deal with Washington’s rainy weather, so they have to make sure they don’t overwater their plants when Mother Nature is at work! Richmond, Virginia ranked second followed by Baton Rouge, Louisiana (3rd), Boise, Idaho (4th), and Chesapeake, Virginia (5th). 

Ten of the top 30 cities are in Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. That may be because, on top of learning the art of gardening, people living in these states also have to deal with incredibly hot climates with an often unforgiving sun. 

Health and Environmental Impact of Gardening

More than 2 in 3 (68%) Americans try to grow their own food, and it pays off for them in more ways than one. On average, gardeners say their homegrown food saves them $65 in groceries monthly, but 92% also say their food tastes better than grocery store food.

More than 1 in 4 (27%) garden for the environment through activities like composting, planting trees, or planting native foliage. Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) are concerned about the way pesticides impact pollinators such as bees and butterflies, but while more than half (54%) use organic or natural alternatives to pesticides, 32% continue to use pesticides in their gardens. 

One major hurdle gardening enthusiasts face is space. More than 3 in 5 (61%) would garden if they had more space to do so. This is a problem people living in urban places face more than those in rural spots. Others wish they had more options to garden outside of their home. While only about 4% of people are part of a community garden, 59% wish there were more community gardens near them. 

How Americans Take Care of Their Lawns

While Americans love to care for plants during warm seasons, many homeowners are overwhelmed by how much work it takes to care for their entire yard. Nearly half (45%) get overwhelmed by lawn care, and 58% are surprised by how much it costs! On average, Americans spend $534 to maintain their yard.  

The majority (69%) try to take care of everything themselves, but 30% hire professionals to help with some lawn care or all of it. One aspect of yard work that’s particularly hard is the maintenance and removal of trees. Nearly half (46%) of homeowners have had their yards damaged by severe weather. Of those, 74% had a tree fall or branches knocked down and 42% dealt with yard or garden destruction. 

Nearly 1 in 4 (22%) have dealt with neighbor conflicts over issues such as tree branches falling, tree root invasions, or even leaves. Others worry about potential damage trees can cause with 36% worried about a tree falling on their home. 

Whether you’re doing brand new landscaping this year, or just planting a small flower bed or herbs to spice up your meals, it’s the season for growth and renewal. We hope you can master the art of gardening this year and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  


In May 2023, we surveyed 1,044 homeowners about their gardening and yard habits. 88% live in houses, 3% in condos, 4% in mobile homes, 3% in townhomes, and 2% in other types of homes. 57% live in suburban settings, 25% in rural settings, and 18% in urban settings. Respondents were 49% male, 50% female, and 1% non-binary. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 85 with an average age of 47 years old.

To determine the cities most likely to kill their plants, we examined the 100 most populous cities in the United States. We analyzed Google search volume of 1,334 terms related to plant care such as “why is my plant dying,” “overwatered tomato plant,” and “aphids on kale” over the period of April 2020 to April 2023. 

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Meet Your Tree Expert

Codey Stout

Codey Stout is the operations manager for Tree Triage and has years of experience removing trees. His expertise has been featured in publications like Yahoo, The Family Handyman, Homes & Gardens, and many more. The only thing Codey likes doing more than removing intrusive trees, is removing unsightly stumps.
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