Tune In

Checking in on GardenWeb


When I first starting looking online for garden advice in the early 2ks, the first places I visited were gardenweb.com and the mail order ratings (Garden Watchdog) on Dave’s Garden. For a brief period, I considered using the garden journal option on DG, but then I found Blogger, which seemed better for writers. Over time, I stopped checking GardenWeb, and moved to the discussions I found in the blogosphere—but GW was instrumental in first helping me identify other garden blogs. GW was purchased by iVillage in 2005, and seemed to putter along, although its “voices” blog directory faltered. In 2015, the GardenWeb forums were purchased by the Houzz home design site; you can find them here.

I took a quick tour of the forums recently, and, overall, I’d have to say it’s a pretty quiet scene, with some hot spots. One poster, lamenting the lack of activity on many forums, states “I wish Facebook didn’t exist,” correctly identifying social media as the preoccupation that has decimated forums and, to a lesser extent, blogs, as online meeting places. Another poster forlornly notes, “I stopped by because I was looking for help turning fire extinguishers into chimes.” I hope he or she finds this information; I feel confident it is out there.

However, I did find some viable and recent discussions in landscape design, antique roses, and permaculture forums, which had been among my favorites, though some categories, like compost/mulch, seem to have disappeared. You’re also bothered by a repetitive popup asking you to join Houzz and the navigation is annoying. Visitors to Houzz will not see the GW forums unless they click on the “stories and advice” tab, and the back arrow is nonfunctional most of the time. On the other hand, Houzz does host full articles on gardening topics, most written by knowledgeable professionals, as far as I can tell, and there are links to these in the forums.

In the end, this is a story of survival. In spite of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, the GardenWeb forums are still here, and, in some areas, still lively. I hope they stay that way.

Posted by on March 6, 2018 at 9:12 am, in the category Tune In.

6 responses to “Checking in on GardenWeb”

  1. Chris N says:

    I was a member of GardenWeb back in the late ’90s. It was founded and run by Robert Stewart (aka “Spike”.) Of all their forums, my favorite was the Beer Garden. Not much gardening got discussed here as it was really a forum for gardeners to sit back and shoot the breeze. I got to know some great people from across the country and other parts of the world.

    Running any website and policing the comments section can be a lot of work. Doing the same for a site with multiple online forums is, frankly, unimaginable to me. The Beer Garden was a rowdy group and took up too much of Spike’s time and effort. Finally, after some egregious rule breaking (not by regulars), Spike had to shut it down. As mentioned, he finally sold GardenWeb itself.

    For some reason, my lifetime membership did not survive the move to iVillage. I only rarely look at it now that it is on Houzz.

  2. hb says:

    On gardenweb since ’96 or ’97. Facebook is killing it off, though Houzz is trying its darndest to help. Talking to other avid gardeners, at any time of day, was a new and wonderful experience. The Internet version 1.0 was a great place.

  3. Emily says:

    “Name That Plant” is still very active with some amazingly knowledgeable people. I still use it for my plant ID questions.

  4. Rosella says:

    It was a great place when I first went there in the early 00’s. So much information and so many friendly and helpful gardeners! Then I moved on to other things but I went back once about a year ago and found it really hard to navigate and deadly quiet in most of the areas. Houzz has a lot to answer for! What a disappointment!

  5. David McMullin says:

    Seems like gardenrant is suffering the same fate. I don’t see more than a handful of responses to any post here. I guess this isn’t a form that most people respond to.

    • Eliz says:

      Except that we are not a discussion board. We fully expect that many read and choose not to comment, as we can see from our google stats.

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