With March roaring in like a lion, it’s time to store the snow shovel and start making home and garden plans. Even if you never get out of the La-Z-Boy Lounger, there are endless TV shows offering landscaping tips, home renovation projects and the prospect of moving to a new house in the old neighborhood or across the world. There’s never been such a variety of home and garden shows — here are our critics’ top picks for the best in domestic escapism and entertainment.
Home Town Takeover (HGTV)
If it’s not enough to see a single house gut renovated, head on south to Wetumpka, Alabama, known as the City of Natural Beauty. Husband and wife team Ben and Erin Napier took on updating the entire town, one ranch house, one vintage home, one boutique, one restaurant, one farmer’s market at a time. Celebrity guests include Sheryl Crow.
Stay Here (Netflix)
With short-term rentals all the rage, and passive income promising some inflation relief, this show drills into the reality of turning your place into a potential moneymaker. The feel-good series pairs interior designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate maven Peter Lorimer who help folks around the world transform their potential rentals into five-star Airbnb moneymakers.
Watch it: Stay Here on Netflix
Flip or Flop (HGTV)
Can former-husband-and-wife Realtors Christina and Tarek El Moussa purchase a risky fixer-upper, renovate it and put it on the market without going underwater? In every HGTV episode over 10 seasons, the Orange County, California, pair give it a try, confront seemingly insurmountable plumbing and foundation issues, frequently turn a profit — and inspire viewers with home do-it-yourself projects and an entrepreneurial real estate spirit.
Watch it: Flip or Flop on Amazon Prime
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Desperate Landscapes (DIY Network)
Sometimes just mowing the lawn isn't enough. In this straightforward DIY Network outdoor makeover show, which began in 2007, host actor-model-carpenter Jason Cameron takes on the grounds of a lucky homeowner “desperate” for a new look and provides handy ideas for viewers at home. Overgrown weeds, broken walkways and dead trees: Beware!
Watch it: Desperate Landscapes on Amazon Prime (Discovery+)
Love It or List It (HGTV)
On this Canadian-American home design series, congenially competitive hosts David Visentin and Hilary Farr — he's an actor-Realtor; she's a designer and home stager — spend a half hour addressing a guest couple's issues with their existing home. The hosts pursue two options: renovating the property within a budget with an eye toward a sale and offering the guests an alternative to purchase. So, will the owners love their newly redesigned palazzo courtesy of Hilary, or sell it to buy one of David's suggested properties? In short: Will they love it or list it?
Curb Appeal (HGTV)
Can 26 seasons and a host (John Gidding) to rival the Property Brothers be wrong? Since 1999, the inspirational half-hour landscaping show on HGTV has demonstrated to viewers how to upgrade their greenery and home exterior from foliage to front door, boosting the looks of plain-Jane houses to star status.
Good Bones (HGTV)
Heartland look-alike mother-daughter team Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk know their way around a wrench as they remodel properties in their native Indianapolis. There's relatively nothing they can't accomplish — from updating tiny houses to drafty Victorians — with good humor and hard work.
The Big Flower Fight (Netflix)
If you're someone who is keen on competition in unscripted shows, try this mad eight-episode British garden program. Hosts Natasia Demetriou, Vic Reeves and Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht track 10 pairs of florists, landscapers and sculptors as they create al fresco artworks from flowers, shrubs, vines and assorted plants. It's the Rose Parade meets Edward Scissorhands.
Watch it: The Big Flower Fight on Netflix
Tiny House Nation (FYI)
Downsizing way, way down? Watch host John Weisbarth and pro Zack Giffin get small while touring the U.S. and exploring the micro home trend. They ingeniously address living spaces that are less than 300 square feet — and raise that question of how much bonding is too much when cohabiting with your family in such a wee house.
Fixer Upper (HGTV)
Who doesn't want a bargain? Who doesn't want to take that galley kitchen with the avocado electric appliances and transform it into a cook's entertaining platform with a stainless steel gleam? In this show that ran from 2013 to 2018, shelter superstars Chip and Joanna Gaines make it seem easy to take the biggest mess in the nicest neighborhood and transform it into real estate gold, with the help of a hammer and some serious sweat equity. Interested in a 2.0 version of the OG? Discovery+ has an all-new Fixer Upper: Welcome Home with Chip and Jo.
Grand Designs (Netflix)
In the fantasy home-builders league, host Kevin McCloud tracks down unusual one-of-a-kind dwellings and follows their construction from plans to landscaping. On this British unscripted TV show launched in 1999, mild-mannered McCloud travels from southern Ireland to West London to the Isle of Skye, nosing around as owners transform riverside boathouses and create boxy new-builds, even radical dream houses — and move on in.
Watch it: Grand Designs on Amazon Prime
Property Brothers (HGTV)
Tall, dark and handsome identical twins, real estate expert Drew Scott and contractor Jonathan Scott have become a cottage industry. The Canadian charmers serve up practical home renovation hints with a side of good-natured sibling rivalry. The brand of the entrepreneurial brothers, who started their first business at age 7, includes several TV series as well as books and Meredith's Reveal magazine.
This Old House (PBS)
For vintage-home lovers, and those who want to enjoy historic details without the endless upkeep, this PBS granddaddy of shelter shows has led the way. The half-hour syndicated show launched in 1979 boasts current host Kevin O'Connor and a no-nonsense team of plumbing and HVAC experts, landscapers and general contractors. Together they chronicle renovating homes across America; a four-episode special, “Rebuilding Paradise,” addresses home revivals in wildfire-ravaged Paradise, California.
Gardeners’ World (BBC)
The BBC's essential British garden show has been running continuously since the winter after the Summer of Love — that's some hardy growth! Originally from the Oxford Botanical Garden, with a magazine tie-in (BBC Gardeners’ World) and the very helpful companion site gardenersworld.com, the show offers practical advice and endless ingenuity, without getting dirt under your fingernails or ticks inside your socks.
Watch it: Gardeners’ World on Britbox
House Hunters (HGTV)
The HGTV classic real estate shopping show is terrific entertainment for two major reasons. The first: If you're snoopy about real estate, this long-running unscripted show (since 1999) follows a couple visiting three potential homes in their budget and proposed neighborhood — and you can peek alongside them without pretending to have a down payment. The second: It's a guilty pleasure to watch the potential purchasers interact as if they're oblivious to the camera as conflicts bubble up while they discuss crown molding, shag carpeting and whether a man cave is really appropriate in the 21st century. (Bonus: Check out House Hunters: LOL, the network's Mystery Science Theater 3000–style homage, which invites comedians to snark along with viewers on their couches.)
House Hunters International (HGTV)
Using the same unscripted format as its HGTV domestic version, the half-hour show follows a couple exploring their foreign options with a knowledgeable real estate agent. What would it be like to buy a pied-à-terre in downtown Buenos Aires, or a husk of a villa in tawny Tuscany? Is retirement really possible in Panama or Uruguay? There’s no need to worry about getting lost in translation as we snoop the apartments and palazzos around the globe from our armchairs without ever having to experience foreign plumbing.
Thelma M. Adams, the former film critic for Us Weekly and the New York Post, is a novelist who writes on film for AARP, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 27, 2020. It has been updated with additional shows and links to where you can stream them.