Over the past 2 days there have been several questions involving general lawn maintenance:

that as defined in "Should we allow questions about stuff “outside” of the home?" are considered off-topic but I am having second thoughts that they should be included. Getting your lawn to grow, which in turn improves the value of your house, does feel very much a Home Improvement type question. There is definitely a fuzzy line here, and eventually there will probably be a better stack exchange site for these type of questions, but they are not completely off-topic so I am proposing that they be allowed.

It almost feels like this site should answer questions on anything sold inside of Lowes or Home Depot (but I wouldn't want to make that the rule to govern on/off topic questions since I know it would not apply 100%... but it might be a good litmus test).

Questions such as what type of tomato plant should I use in my garden or what type of flower will bloom in July should NOT be included. But questions on what type of grass seed to use or what type of lawn mower to buy should be allowed.

"Sold inside a home improvement store" would be a fairly good measure for questions. It starts to get a little gray, since I can buy vegetable and fruit plants in a home improvement store. But those can be easily spotted and routed to a Gardening SE site. –  Jared Harley Aug 8 '10 at 19:28
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6 Answers

I'll take up the contrary position on this one. I think that lawn maintenance should be included. This is just my opinion but I think that care and maintenance of your lawn/landscape is just another part of the overall home improvement experience. Lawn maintenance may involve plumbing, electrical work, framing, bricking and drywall/cementboard work (if you're building an outdoor BBQ for example).

For actual "Gardening" questions I tend to think more of which flowers/veggies to plant at what time of the year, soil types and watering and those should be long on the gardening StackExchange but I think that issues relating to keeping your lawn intact and recommending improvements such as landscaping brick, watering systems and their repair should be included here.

I agree. Where i live (near the beach) we have many houses with rocks for yards. We would allow questions on what types of rocks to put down and how to maintain them and in this case they are acting no different than a lawn. –  Jeff Widmer Aug 6 '10 at 13:06
These types of questions DO belong here, in my opinion. –  ConsultUtah Aug 6 '10 at 17:19
I could not agree more. Lawn care and landscaping are clearly key parts of home improvement. If we concede this is off-topic and deserves it's own site, we're going to fragment the community. Landscapers tend to know a lot about maintaining homes in general -- why divert their attention elsewhere? If you don't want to pay attention to lawn and garden questions, ignore those tags. –  Rob Sobers Aug 7 '10 at 2:24
I have changed my mind: you and others have convinced me that lawn-care questions should be on topic. –  Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 10 '10 at 17:43
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I would wager that many folks who sheet rock their own basement also seed their own lawn. I have grown a little discouraged at how segregated the stackexchange family of sites has become. I think tags are sufficient to segregate topics such as lawn care and landscaping from sheet rock and plumbing. Cheers! –  kbrimington Oct 17 '11 at 19:30
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Some people would think that you should migrate those types of questions to a lawn and garden stackexchange. I am of the opinion that it falls under general home improvement. Whereas "finding the right time to water the petunias" is definitely a gardening question. Heck - lawn maintenance could even go to a pest control stack exchange, but we don't need to get so crazy.

If we were to draw the line somewhere, I think general lawn maintenance questions should stay. Whereas planting cycles for flowers, watering times, etc should go to a gardening stack exchange.

My two cents..

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I think there's a difference between yard maintenance and gardening. Gardening is certainly a specialized area, but everyone has to maintain their property. Cutting the grass is clearly not a gardening activity. Designing next spring's tulip display is clearly not a home DIY project.

Questions that I think are appropriate in this forum:

  • Lawn maintenance related.
  • Tree & shrub maintenance related. (eg. "How should I trim my trees?", "How do I get rid of these bugs infesting my shrubs?")
  • Driveway and sidewalk maintenance related. (eg. "How do I handle these cracks on my driveway?", "Why is my sidewalk heaving?")
  • Stormwater management and related landscaping.
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I think lawn maintenance should be off-topic. It seems like most of the lawn questions (species, insects, weeds, sun/shade, watering, fertilization, etc.) have more in common with other gardening questions than with other home-improvement questions. Therefore, if we allow lawn questions, it will be hard to not allow questions about trees, shrubs, and tomato plants.

Why not allow all gardening questions? Because I think the gardening community is largely separate from the home-improvement community: many are interested in gardening but not fixing/building things or vice-versa. The gardening community may also be bigger, but I'm not sure.

If there turns out not to be enough people to get a gardening StackExchange going, I could perhaps be convinced to allow all gardering questions here. It would in that case have to include tomato plants, not only “manly” topics such as lawnmower and fertilizing the lawn.

I'm open to changing my mind, so please discuss.

Edit: I have changed my mind on this. I now agree that questions about lawn and tree care should be welcome on this site.

Indeed, I would also keep the gardening questions separate, because there is no clear line. A similar question on Area51 got voted off-topic. –  Jan Fabry Aug 6 '10 at 11:30
@Jan, thanks, I've seen it, I just haven't decided how to respond. –  Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 6 '10 at 13:15
There is a line between gardening and outdoor/yard maintenance. –  duffbeer703 Aug 6 '10 at 14:22
+1, I agree. Seems like a good place to draw the line. If we say that a house has a lawn, so lawn care is home improvement, then wouldn't we have to include things like interior decorating as well? (What color carpet would go best with my wood paneling? How should I choose lighting to create a cozy mood in my living room? etc.). Seems like a slippery slope. –  Eric Petroelje Aug 6 '10 at 17:09
@Eric Those two questions would be closed, not because they're off-topic, but because they are subjective. There is no definitive answer to what color goes best with what. –  Jared Harley Aug 8 '10 at 19:23
There's a better more general gardening forum at area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/1369/…. –  Jeremy McGee Aug 9 '10 at 5:54
@Jared - good point, maybe a bad example, but I guess almost everything in interior decorating is subjective :) –  Eric Petroelje Aug 10 '10 at 14:45
@Eric unless you're talking to my wife. Then the only thing subjective is my opinion! –  Jared Harley Aug 10 '10 at 20:26
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Now that there is a Gardening and Landscaping site in public beta, new questions of this type can/should be migrated there.

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I think there needs to be an inorganic component or structural issue involved for a question to be on-topic here.

Questions about bugs and growth/weeds etc. are off-topic. Questions about drainage, retaining walls, earth-moving, limbing large trees, cleaning fruit stains off of concrete, irrigation systems, would all be on-topic.

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