2022’s Best Cities for Naked Gardening

Gardener wearing yellow gardening boots with no pants, seen from the knees and down, and standing amidst flowers in a garden

Enjoy gardening in your birthday suit? Hey, we’re not judging. 

Just be careful when picking tomatoes and trimming your bushes on World Naked Gardening Day. Not all U.S. cities allow naturists and nudists to tend to their flowers and veggies in the flesh.

So, where can you bare your green thumb (and the rest of your body) outdoors on May 7 (or any other day) — without getting snagged by thorny legal issues or prickly vegetation?

LawnStarter’s ranking exposes 2022’s Best Cities for Naked Gardening. 

We compared 100 of the biggest U.S. cities based on nudist population size, legality of public nudity and toplessness, and gardener-friendliness. We also looked at weather conditions and safety.

Dig into our totally NSFW ranking below, followed by highlights, lowlights, and insights from our panel of fully clothed experts.

Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology
  5. Barely Legal

City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreNude Gardener-Friendliness RankLocal Interest RankWeather RankSafety Rank
1Austin, TX67.801406145
2Orlando, FL66.92411399
3Atlanta, GA66.442124089
4Baton Rouge, LA62.065781532
5Tampa, FL61.05277885
6Miami, FL60.689313075
7Philadelphia, PA57.56697761
8Raleigh, NC57.2511105892
9Seattle, WA56.85334809
10Durham, NC56.7813106842
11Sacramento, CA56.4922252593
12Winston-Salem, NC56.368496557
13Los Angeles, CA55.834731439
14San Francisco, CA54.7117205735
15New York, NY54.6712636223
16Dallas, TX54.592344878
17Greensboro, NC54.2814496060
18Charlotte, NC54.2620195541
19Houston, TX54.042684383
20New Orleans, LA53.7328433414
21Denver, CO53.4719147262
22Oakland, CA53.2832203759
23Madison, WI53.2216655165
24St. Petersburg, FL52.54752981
25San Jose, CA52.3848203152
26Tucson, AZ51.7967521012
27Fresno, CA51.4954811271
28Bakersfield, CA51.096683776
29Mesa, AZ51.00871635
30Honolulu, HI50.8625605350
31Phoenix, AZ50.848824110
32San Diego, CA50.8230763936
33St. Louis, MO50.7710388498
34Anaheim, CA50.7435861137
35Buffalo, NY50.6724466674
36Riverside, CA50.2829861753
37Fort Worth, TX50.285544684
38Albuquerque, NM49.8740623527
39Stockton, CA49.8471251679
40Portland, OR49.8415368522
41Pittsburgh, PA49.2418378273
42Cincinnati, OH48.627399925
43El Paso, TX47.9462732454
44Santa Ana, CA47.8443861843
45Chula Vista, CA47.6651684530
46Tulsa, OK47.5359713234
47Long Beach, CA47.4338862651
48Hialeah, FL47.4078312321
49Glendale, AZ47.26931646
50Corpus Christi, TX47.2456643682
51Milwaukee, WI47.0549307390
52San Antonio, TX46.9439477564
53Chandler, AZ46.85941663
54Minneapolis, MN46.5564414915
55Washington, DC46.4721238849
56Boston, MA46.4345287819
57Scottsdale, AZ46.31778652
58Chicago, IL45.977066740
59Irvine, CA45.975286284
60Cleveland, OH45.6757357429
61Jacksonville, FL45.6283451970
62Fremont, CA45.1144863817
63Lubbock, TX45.1160824166
64Toledo, OH45.0569594713
65Las Vegas, NV44.8779572197
66Wichita, KS44.2853807186
67Laredo, TX43.9972852733
68Omaha, NE43.9734748172
69Nashville, TN43.7785443363
70Plano, TX43.7437866920
71Jersey City, NJ43.434186628
72Colorado Springs, CO43.2673774480
73Baltimore, MD42.6650278638
74Aurora, CO42.1476147668
75Lincoln, NE41.8533619077
76Henderson, NV41.2192572047
77Irving, TX41.1361865231
78Arlington, TX40.9058865948
79Reno, NV40.7290662994
80North Las Vegas, NV40.6695482167
81Gilbert, AZ40.441008621
82Detroit, MI40.3584337096
83Oklahoma City, OK39.8682725656
84Louisville, KY39.6836709269
85Garland, TX39.6768865455
86Richmond, VA39.16316987100
87Columbus, OH38.894653977
88St. Paul, MN38.4297414211
89Newark, NJ38.3274866215
90Lexington, KY38.24425410044
91Virginia Beach, VA36.0763559546
92Spokane, WA35.7781797928
93Kansas City, MO35.5465519888
94Memphis, TN35.4698675091
95Norfolk, VA31.9589289387
96Chesapeake, VA31.4886559358
97Indianapolis, IN31.3391139626
98Anchorage, AK30.8480849195
99Fort Wayne, IN30.2796758318
100Arlington, VA24.1399868924
Infographic showing the best cities for naked gardening, a ranking based on the size of the nudist population, legality of public nudity and toplessness, gardening-friendliness, climate, safety, and more
Note: Although we ranked 100 cities for each of the above metrics, the lowest-ranking position for some metrics may not be 100 due to a number of ties among the cities. In cases of significant ties, only a limited number of cities may be displayed for presentation purposes.

Highlights and Lowlights

Keep Austin Au Naturel

“Keep Austin weird,” they say. Well, we’re happy to oblige: Austin strips Miami (No. 1 in 2021) of its title as “LawnStarter Naked Gardening Capital” this year.

Although Vice City has a bigger nudist population — those more likely to use a hoe in the buff — Austin’s naturist green thumbs are less likely to find themselves in legal hot water. Austin — home to Hippie Hollow, the only nude beach in all of Texas — is among a tiny handful of cities that allows total public nudity. And by “total,” we mean everything above and below the gardening tool belt.

Flashy Florida

Why might a gardener want to live in the Sunshine State? To get an all-over tan while tending to their tomatoes, of course. Three of Florida’s biggest cities, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami — the most of any state — landed in our top 10.

Perhaps more revealing: This nude-gardener trifecta also dominated our top five in nudist population size. Orlando leads with over 540 nudists per 100,000 residents (decent or otherwise), followed by Miami in second place and Tampa in fourth. It’s no wonder the Florida legislature is working to increase legal protections for nudists.

Surprisingly, though, Hialeah came in last among all 100 cities in our ranking, with just over 12 nudists per 100,000 residents, despite the city’s proximity to Miami. Perhaps Hialeah’s nudists simply prefer the beach to the backyard.

Safety First

One particular state stands out in our ranking: Arizona. The Grand Canyon State does not tolerate public nudity — all of its biggest cities tied for having the most severe penalties for public nudity violations. At the same time, those cities occupy the top spots in Safety, boasting the fewest sex offenders per capita. 

We’re not sure if those two patterns are related, but suffice it to say that Arizona is the safest state against predators — but it’s the least safe (from legal repercussions) if you want to garden in your birthday suit.

Golden Gardens

The Golden State is another standout in our ranking: Three of our top 20 cities are in California, and all but two finished in the top half.

Why? Parts of California are known for their year-round balmy weather, ideal conditions for planting vegetables — at least without a bra.

Despite their strong reputation for carefree living, California’s biggest cities are quite conservative about showing skin. The state bans public nudity but lets local governments decide for themselves.

Ask The Experts

Public nudity is a touchy subject in America. We reached out to a panel of experts to uncover the naked truth about this topic and offer their tips for safely gardening in the nude.

  1. In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?
  2. Does public nudity support the body positivity movement? Why or why not?
  3. Public nudity is allowed in very few U.S. cities. What do these cities have in common, if anything?
  4. What are three benefits and three dangers of gardening in the nude?
  5. What are your three best tips for first-time nude gardeners?
Tessa West
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Leslie Gielow Jacobs
Director, Capital Center for Law & Policy, Professor of Law
Tessa West
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
New York University

In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?

America has a complicated history with puritanism. Social conservatism — and with that a belief that people should dress conservatively and not show their private bits to the world — still runs strong through our American veins.

The places where public nudity is illegal tend to be more conservative places. In Alabama (a conservative state), for example, the publishment for public nudity can include a year in jail, $6,000 in fines, and being forced to register as a sex offender.

Does public nudity support the body positivity movement? Why or why not?

This probably depends entirely on where you live. In places where public nudity is socially unacceptable (even if legal), there is probably such a strong norm against it that the simple act of doing it would lead to social ostracism, which isn’t exactly good for the body positive movement. But in places where being barely clothed or not-at-all clothed is socially acceptable (think South Beach in Miami), it certainly could.

Beliefs about what is beautiful take time to change, so my guess is one act of public nudity won’t move the needle, but lots of it — coupled with positive messages about the benefits of public nudity — definitely could. Modeling behavior is important. If people see different types of bodies out there and people feeling truly comfortable in their own skin, that could make them realize, “Hey, I look beautiful in the nude, too.”

Public nudity is allowed in very few U.S. cities. What do these cities have in common, if anything?

Social conservatism. Politically liberal places are much more likely to allow nudity than conservative ones.

What are three benefits and three dangers of gardening in the nude?

For benefits, I would say an increase in vitamin D, learning to feel comfortable in your skin, and exploring new physical sensations.

Dangers include sunburn, accidental injury if you’re not careful (hint: don’t sit down in the dirt!), and bug bites where you don’t want them.

What are your three best tips for first-time nude gardeners?

  1. Wear sunscreen — everywhere! Remember, some of these body parts have never seen the sun, so they are very vulnerable. This is true for all skin tones and races.
  2. Make sure you aren’t using any chemicals (like weed killer) that might come in contact with your body. If you need gloves to handle your gardening chemicals, it might not be a good time to go nude.
  3. Bring a towel or blanket. Crouching down over your plot of land to dig out beans is fine, but most of us naturally sit down when our legs get tired — it’s an automatic behavior we don’t think about. Think proactively, and put something down on the ground that will be kind to your behind.
Leslie Gielow Jacobs
Director, Capital Center for Law & Policy, Professor of Law
University of the Pacific

In many European countries, nudity is socially acceptable. Why is nudity treated as taboo in America by comparison?

Different attitudes in different countries about public nudity stem from their different histories and cultural values. Attitudes in the United States likely stem in part from various religious doctrines that equate nudity with sexual desire and sexual desire with shame.

The U.S. Constitution permits states and cities to restrict public nudity so long as it is only conduct, not a form of speech. Interestingly, the U.S. Constitution more severely limits the ability of governments to restrict nudity that is part of speech, including pornography and live nude dancing, than do the free-speech guarantees of most other countries. So, European countries may allow more public nudity but also restrict more pornography than in the United States.

Also, U.S. women have successfully challenged public nudity restrictions that apply unequally, prohibiting them from displaying their breasts and nipples, for example, when men may do so.

Methodology

We ranked the 100 biggest U.S. cities with complete datasets from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 100) for naked gardening based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Nude Gardener-Friendliness
Nudists per 100,000 Residents312.36540.54Max. Value
Urban Gardening-Friendliness31196Min. Value
Local Legality of Public Nudity (1 = Allowed or No Law, 0 = Prohibited)401Max. Value
Severity of Penalty for State Public Nudity Rule Violations24.535Min. Value
Toplessness Legal in State (2 = Yes, 1 = Ambiguous Law, 0 = No)402Max. Value
Local Interest
Average Monthly Google Searches for "Nudist" and "World Naked
Gardening Day" Over Past 12 Months
3066.37Max. Value
Weather
Forecasted Daytime Temperature on Naked Gardening Day351 degrees F94 degrees FMax. Value
Forecasted Daytime Probability of Rain on Naked Gardening Day31%94%Min. Value
Forecasted Daytime Wind Speed on Naked Gardening Day24 mph37 mphMin. Value
Safety
Sex Offenders per 100,000 Residents12.062,882.77Min. Value

Sources: AccuWeather, City-Data.com, CriminalDefenseLawyer, FindLaw, The Frisky, Google Trends, Other LawnStarter Studies, Refinery29, True Nudists, U.S. Census Bureau, and World Population Review

Barely Legal

Turns out most Americans own a pair of pruding sheers. Only three cities in our ranking reportedly allow public nudity: Austin, Philadelphia, and Seattle (the birthplace of World Naked Gardening Day and home to cofounder Mark Storey). Florida allows public nudity, too, but only over sand, not soil.

Public nudity is generally outlawed in America, but the interpretation of “indecent exposure” can be a fuzzy nether region of the law, according to experts. The language used in many state laws is vague and mostly targets those who are intentionally lewd.

Not all nudity is off limits, though. Over 60% of the cities we ranked embrace topfreedom, while another 34 have ambiguous toplessness laws. So, unless you live in Tennessee or Indiana, it’s generally safe to bare your chest while you plant your turnips. (Just make sure to check your local laws before you do.)

In closing this year’s report, it’s worth noting that one city in our ranking is no surprise near the bottom. Anchorage has a very limited season for gardening — naked or otherwise. 

Currently, the forecast calls for a low of 41 and a high of 55 degrees F this World Naked Gardening Day. That might be a bit nippy for a Full Monty outdoors, but the record low for that date in Anchorage is 21.9 degrees F, and naked gardening for a while in that cold — well, you might freeze your butt off.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Staff Writer