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When placing gardens, by using the [ or ] keys we can cycle through many different styles of gardens. Some are really tiny (about 1x1 tile or smaller), and other are large walled in parks that take up the size of a medium size building.

Is there a best way to utilize these? If I pack a 4x4 grid of small gardens into the area the size of one large garden, does that give me 16x as much beauty as an equivalent large garden?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted
+150

tl;dr Version

  • All gardens have the same range of effect regardless of size
  • Large gardens are more effective at increasing beauty than small gardens
  • Four small gardens have an identical effect to one large garden
  • The relationship is linear so 4 large gardens have the same effect as 16 small gardens
  • Gardens take effect on beauty immediately on construction/demolition
  • Beauty increase is proportional to area covered by garden
  • Larger gardens are more cost-effective to build than smaller ones for same effect

If I pack a 4x4 grid of small gardens into the area the size of one large garden, does that give me 16x as much beauty as an equivalent large garden?

No - it gives you the same increase for four times the cost.

Methods:

To test this I first found an area of roughly equal beauty: Area of equal beauty

...then trashed it: Post Trashing

I then chose the spot just in front of the armoury (quite arbitrarily though there was space for all the gardens here and a wide enough area to see the effect). This is it's normal beauty: Test Area

With one small garden, the effect is very small both in terms of difference made and area affected: 1 Small Garden

However with one big garden, the effect is magnified locally but has no further range (look at the tile with scrub-land on it immediately behind the garbage dump - it is the same colour in both images: One Large garden

With four small gardens (roughly equal in size to one big garden), the effect is exactly the same as one large garden in both area and magnitude: Four small gardens

As expected, the area with four large gardens has the largest local effect though again the same range (looking once more at the scrubland behind the garbage dump): Four Large Gardens

Finally, a 4*4 grid of the small gardens has an identical effect to four large gardens in intesnsity and range:

Four by four grid of small gardens

It's worth remembering that gardens are fixed cost, therefore it is most cost effective to build large gardens.

A few apologies:

The camera keeps shifting about as it's really difficult to get it in the same place twice. The gardens aren't perfectly aligned to the same grid either as this was also a pain to achieve, though it doesn't appear to have had any effect. Also the game crashed several times when taking the screenshots, each time doing so resetting the visual settings so some of the textures might be a little different from screenshot to screenshot. Finally the game absolutely refused to take the last screenshot (garden overload!) so it's a bit more obscured than the others - sorry!

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Wow, wonderful analysis. Just curious, when you were doing this experiment, did you notice any difference from time lapse? Do the gardens affect beauty immediately, or does it take some time for the beauty to 'grow'? I tried going similar experiments myself but I could never get enough consistent data to come to a conclusion. Anyway, thanks again! –  Tim Feb 9 '13 at 19:43
    
@Tim I did, I was going to put it as a footnote but apparently forgot. The effect from adding the gardens was instantaneous (judging by the fact that the colours did not change over a year of in game change, and the effect was immediately removed on the destruction of the garden) :) –  Rory Feb 9 '13 at 21:54
    
...however the construction of the buildings was more interesting - however many I added beauty was not affected until they were connected to the road network and Tropicans were walking through the area - I guess it's not ugly if no one sees it! –  Rory Feb 9 '13 at 21:57
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I believe that for a 4x4 grid, one 4-square garden and four 1-square gardens will have the same effect.

Say each square of garden grants +3 beauty (this is an arbitrary number for the pruposes of this example):

3pts x (1 x 4sq) = 12

3pts x (4 x 1sq) = 12

Unfortunately I do not have an official source to cite, this comes from having played it (although the game is rather inconsistent with how it works out stuff like this)

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How did you test this? –  Paul Marshall Dec 4 '12 at 23:29
    
Having played a lot of it, I never noticed an exponential benefit from multiple gardens. Though, as I mentioned, the game can resolve situations like this rather oddly at times so I could be missing out some salient fact. –  shanodin Dec 5 '12 at 7:37
    
But the question is, is there even a linear effect from multiple gardens, and is the effect of a garden linear with its area? Do you know if the effect of a garden scales up with area, or does one small garden give the same effect as one large garden? –  Paul Marshall Dec 5 '12 at 18:22
    
It seems the question was asking something more complicated than I realised then. –  shanodin Dec 5 '12 at 18:28
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