Gardening may be some way off graduating from beta but it won't hurt to start thinking about design ideas. While we're still in beta our background theme is the generic "sketchy" design consisting mostly of blue graph paper. When we graduate we'll get a design all of our own. It'll be so much better!

But what should that design consist of? In fact, Jin, the inhouse Stack Exchange designer, has asked sites like ours to have this conversation ahead of graduation. In a way, we're lucky, and so is Jin, because with gardening there's so much beautiful imagery to work with. Imagine trying to come up with a gorgeous design for a Sharepoint stackexchange? Or Personal Finance? (No offence to those guys)

So, what colours, themes, imagery and so on should we be steering Jin towards for a graduated Gardening and Landscaping site?

Which of the existing graduated Stack Exchange sites do you like and which, if any, have design elements which are relevant to our topic? Which gardening blogs or sites do you know of which have gorgeous designs?

As well as graduation designs, what about 404 pages, error pages, ads? Is there a plant or garden tool or other symbol which would make a good logo? For example, Parenting has this ad. Cooking has this 404 page.

Some things that occur to me to bear in mind:

  • Our topic is rich in suggestive imagery, but does classic iconography such as sunflowers and acorns make you think of gardening ... or an insurance company?

  • Remember we have an international audience and our gardening calendars depend on our location. Bicycles has a neat day/night theme for the main site v. meta. It would be very cool if our theme could do something to reflect changing seasons but could that work for both northern and southern hemispheres?

  • Our content typically includes more photography than most other SE sites. How should our surrounding design cope with that, without clashing?

  • Reflect the full range of content here. Vegetables is our top tag but we shouldn't forget ornamental gardening, flowers, fruit, lawn care and houseplants. Oh, and Landscaping.

  • To be fair, SharePoint has a pretty gorgeous theme. :P
    – Ambo100
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 20:39
  • 1
    @Tea-Drinker Is there any way we can access Stack Overflow practice data so we could play with our own CSS and see what it could look like?
    – Lisa
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 5:25
  • @Lisa You could easily grab the info from the page's source... Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 21:09
  • @yoda which is what I've done, but it's not as good as being able to play with an API.
    – Lisa
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 22:51
  • A relevant post (on this meta) by one of our Community Managers from last week: Custom Gardening & Landscaping design and logo - Information gathering :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 21:21
  • Update: Your new site design is live!
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 17:14

6 Answers 6


Above ground for the main site, below ground for meta. Below I list a slew of thoughts with this broad suggestion, so feel free to pick and choose what works best.

Main Site:

  • Tree tops/sun near the header, turf, soil or raised garden near the footer.
  • Maybe a tree spanning the left hand side, with the menu embedded in the trunk.
  • Blue sky as the background? or weather-dependent-color taken from the location of last OP (question asker)

Meta Site:

  • Turf as the header.
  • Soil as the background, with worms, and roots etc.
  • 1
    Do SO employees design the background themes?
    – Danger14
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 20:20
  • @Danger14: I know this is years later, but yes.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 21:20

How about leaves for the voting arrows? Some leaf shapes would go very well with that.

  • 1
    and roots for downvoting?
    – Nic
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 23:31
  • 1
    @Nic That would be interesting. I had imagined te 2 arrows to be symmetrical (possibly less confusing for a new user).
    – J. Musser
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 0:07

Perhaps in the same way bicycle.se badges have more teeth per gear depending on how hard the badge is to earn, gardening.se could have a flower with more petals. It could be considered a design cliché and it might seem unatural having a silver and bronze flower.

  • 4
    I like your visual metaphor. We do have so many choices, as Tea pointed out! Coloured wreaths/bouquets could work too, much as military heroes in the Roman legions were honoured.
    – Lisa
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 5:27

A 404 shaped out of flowering annuals might look good.


Looking at http://dba.stackexchange.com badges made me think of gardening tools, a spade for example, as the symbol for badges; the spade would be bronze, silver or gold, just as the DBA site's key is bronze, silver or gold.

  • Do they have to be bronze silver and gold? As a gardener, I'd be more chuffed with a stainless steel or a copper spade.
    – Nic
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 23:32

Whatever design you choose, please make sure that it looks good with the screen colors inverted (that's how I use the site, on account of light-sensitivity). IMO, it shouldn't look glaring or have bright colors when the screen colors are inverted (that includes photographs; I discourage using photographs, personally).


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