Animal Crossing: New Horizons - How to get a 5-star town

Want the best watering can in the game? Lilies of the Valley? Golden roses? A perfect Animal Crossing island awaits, and here's how to get it.

Veterans of the Animal Crossing series will hear "perfect town" and think back to the days of planting heaps of flowers, pulling every weed in sight, and planting trees galore in the 3DS's New Leaf. With the Switch and New Horizons, the "perfect town" is now the "5-star island," as you can now decorate your entire island with furniture just like the rooms in your house. Getting a 5-star island is a little tougher than before, but it's worth every planted seed. Now that the Animal Crossing: New Horizons 2.0 update is available, there are even more ways to get that 5-star ranking you're looking for.

A perfect getaway

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch

$60 at Amazon $50 at Walmart

Build, decorate, design

Animal Crossing: New Horizons places you on a deserted island with nothing but your hands and a few animal companions. You'll start with a tent, eventually upgrade to a house, then customize it to your liking. You'll do this all while making friends with the villagers and using tools you've crafted yourself to design an island paradise however you want.

What does it mean to have a 5-star town?

Once you unlock the Resident Services building in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you'll also gain access to island evaluations. If you ask Isabelle to evaluate your island, she'll give you a rank between one and five stars based on its upkeep, beauty, and decor. If you're a K.K. Slider fan building your island's ranking is essential, as a 3-star rating will complete Project K and unlock the musical mutt's weekly visits to your island.

A 3-star rating is also all that's needed for Kapp'n to appear at your dock and The Roost to open in the museum, so don't think you'll need five stars to get the newest additions to the island. There are some great rewards for the perfect 5-star rating too, but it's going to take a green thumb and some elbow grease to make it happen.

Why do I want a 5-star town?

Aside from the pride of your Animal Crossing home getting a perfect rank, there are a few rewards unlocked to earn through the ranking as well:

Gold Watering Can

The Gold Watering Can recipe is the prize for reaching the vaunted 5-star island rating. Isabelle gives you this recipe as soon as you talk to her after earning the 5-star rank. Then you can make the golden gardening tool with one standard Watering Can and one Gold Ore. Perks of the Gold Watering Can include more uses before it breaks and a wider area watered during every use.

Gold Roses

By unlocking the Gold Watering Can, you can now grow Gold Roses in your island's garden. The gilded rose can only be grown by watering Black Roses--which are difficult in their own right--with a Gold Watering Can. If you're trying to collect every type of flower, you'll need the Gold Watering Can from a 5-star town to do it.

Lilies of the Valley

Lilies of the Valley are a unique, rare flower that only appear on 5-star islands. Every day that the 5-star ranking is maintained on your island, you have a better chance that a Lily of the Valley will spawn somewhere on your island.

How do I get 5 stars?

The road to a 5-star island is paved in good advice, and by that we mean every time you ask Isabelle to rank your island, heed her advice. Remember: when you ask Isabelle to evaluate the island, her dialogue is always the same: ranking, random piece of feedback, and advice on what's still missing.

The feedback from a random villager is mostly just for laughs, but the advice at the end is crucial. Whether it's decorating more, cutting down or adding trees, or inviting more residents, Isabelle is laying out exactly what needs to be done in order to ascend to the five stars. If you're stuck on what to do with the advice she gives you, here are a few pointers on how to proceed.

Villagers

The first step to increasing the star rating in your town is to increase the population. You'll probably first notice this problem when you're trying to reach three stars and unlock K.K. Slider's concerts. You need to have at least eight residents to achieve three stars.

After getting that 3-star rating, however, the population doesn't seem to matter much. Ten is the maximum number you can have on your island, but we achieved the 5-star rank with only nine, meaning you won't need a fully populated island to hit that milestone. That said, you won't be able to get by with just the three villages that began the journey with you, so get out there and fill houses with new villagers.

Trees

A 5-star town ideally has a good balance of everything: trees, flowers, and decor. You don't want zero trees, but you also don't want too many. You also don't want sections of your town to only be trees, because then there's no room for decoration. -- more on that in a moment.

You should, ideally, be planting trees as you go. Your town starts with a healthy amount, and you'll likely plant more as you obtain fruits that don't grow on your island or find golden spots on the ground for burying Bells. If you're only doing those two things from the very beginning, or if Isabelle isn't explicitly telling you to plant more or fewer trees, you're good to go on this front.

If you need more trees, plant some fruit around the island or buy trees from Nook's Cranny to plant around the island. Also, if you don't have any already, bamboo counts as a tree if you prefer how that looks.

Flowers

Flowers are essential to a 5-star town -- you're going to need to plant a lot of them. You can buy bags of seeds from the Nooklings or Leif the sloth when he's in town, and you can also dig up flowers from Nook Miles Islands and bring them back with you to plant on your island.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have at least a handful of flowers in every "square" of the "grid' that overlays your in-game map -- open your map, and you'll see what we mean. You don't need to have a variety of types or colors; any flower will do.

One thing you don't have to worry about though is watering them. Flowers won't die if you fail to water them, so don't think you need to spend every day watering every flower. That said, they won't reproduce unless they're watered, so do go around on a watering spree if you want new flowers quickly. New flowers are grown by planting two flowers of the same species next to each other and watering them, and if it's raining on your island, all the flowers get watered at once!

Decorations

The absolute most crucial element in getting a 5-star island is to decorate it, head to toe. Remember that grid overlaying the minimap I mentioned earlier? You really need decorations in just about every square of that map. There's a bit of leeway with the beach, as our 5-star town had a few beach-only squares with nothing in them, but every main square had at least one piece of decor, and most had multiple.

If you're stuck anywhere on trying to get a five-star town, and Isabelle isn't giving specific advice, then you're definitely in need of more decorations. The "what" in your decorating plans doesn't matter that much--you can decorate with a hundred log benches, and it'll count just as much as fancier furniture--just the "where." If you're rushing to finish that 5-star town, look at what furniture recipes you have that you can make for low amounts of resources, make them in bulk, and spread them out all over the place.

Finding new furniture outside of purchasing them isn't terribly difficult. Shaking trees, shooting balloon-bound gifts, and gathering resources for DIY recipes all will get you a ton of new ideas. Also, when the ability to gift a villager an item once per day opens up, only give them new clothing. They might come back with a new piece of furniture for you. As for DIY recipes, one free DIY per day can be found in a bottle on the beach, while a second free daily DIY is given to you by a random villager. You'll know you're at the right villager when you enter their house and they're using the crafting table.

One last tip -- build fences! Fences count as furniture, and they're a great way to organize your town! You can get recipes for more fence types from the Nook Stop, and every time you craft one fence, it makes ten "pieces" of fencing.

Furniture and decorations are by far the most challenging and time-consuming part of the 5-star island process. Keep exploring for new decorations, finding and making new DIY recipes, and adding to your island with your newly built items, and you'll have a 5-star town sooner than you think.

Trash

Finally, though this may seem obvious to some, you can't have trash lying around your island. We assume you're not actively trashing your island, but be particularly careful with turnips. Once Sunday hits and those turnips go unsold, they immediately become trash items to be cleaned and disposed of. One stack of turnips won't throw things off, but if you've got several hundreds of turnips rotting in the sun your island will get dinged for trash. Clean them up!

Some items, however, don't count toward the trash count. Things that wash up on the beach aren't trash in the beginning, just be sure not to pick them up and drop them again, or they'll become garbage. Natural items dropped from shaking trees and stones--like fruit, sticks, and minerals--don't seem to cause any issue, though the game will consider these and any other items garbage if they're picked up and then dropped back onto the ground.

One big change from previous games regards weeds and how their importance to 5-star islands is different here. In previous Animal Crossing games, having weeds in your town meant you couldn't have a perfect town. We got a 5-star town in New Horizons while two segments of my town still had a bounty of weeds ripe for picking. There's no set figure on how many weeds you're allowed to have before they count against you, but remember who's giving you the advice to begin with. Isabelle will not be shy about too many weeds, so if she brings it up try to help her out.

Also, thanks to the new Ordinance mechanic in the 2.0 update, you can now direct your fellow islanders to focus on keeping the island clean. Once you select the Beautiful Island ordinance from the list, weeds and trash will magically disappear thanks to the rest of the townsfolk. This takes one big task off of your plate on the road to a 5-star island, and that's never a bad thing.

Written in the stars

Now that you're on your way to a 5-star island, keep listening to Isabelle's advice and eventually you'll be the shiniest pearl in the ocean. This is an arduous task, with a lot of little steps required to get that perfect evaluation, but finally getting there is quite the accomplishment. Allow us to extend a virtual high-five, handshake, and pat on the back for building your island to be the best it can be. Enjoy that Gold Watering Can.

A perfect getaway

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

$60 at Best Buy $50 at Walmart

Build, decorate, design

Animal Crossing: New Horizons places you on a deserted island with nothing but your hands and a few animal companions. You'll start with a tent, eventually upgrade to a house, then customize it to your liking. You'll do this all while making friends with the villagers, and using tools you've crafted yourself to design an island paradise however you want..

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