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What word do you use for the area surrounding your home? Do you call it a ‘yard’ or a ‘garden’?
I looked up the definition of the word ‘yard’ regarding the land surrounding a house and here is what I found:
1. A tract of ground next to, surrounding or surrounded by a building or buildings.
2. A tract of ground, often enclosed, used for a particular business or activity.
3. An area where railroad trains are made up and cars are switched, stored, and serviced on tracks and sidings.
4. A winter pasture for deer or other grazing animals, or an enclosed tract of ground in which animals, such as chickens or pigs, are kept.
Now, I don’t have any trains in my yard or deer, chickens or pigs either. I do have animals in my yard, but my dogs spend most of their time indoors.
Of all these definitions, the first one best describes my ‘yard’. But it is so much more than a “tract of ground surrounding a building”.
My back ‘garden’ in the summer.
So, I looked up the definition of the word, ‘garden’. Here is what I found:
1. A plot of land used for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit.
2. Grounds laid out with flowers, trees, and ornamental shrubs and used for recreation or display.
3. A yard or lawn.
Now some people may not feel comfortable referring to their ‘yard’ as a garden. They may feel that their landscape is inadequate.
Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny Ireland
Well, I don’t see anything in the definitions of the word, ‘garden’ that means that you have to have beautiful, formal, extravagant landscaping around your home. You don’t see the word ‘castle’ mentioned in the definition, do you?
I think the definition(s) of the word, ‘garden,’ describe the landscape around my house much more accurately than the word ‘yard.’ I have flowers growing in containers, I have a vegetable garden, I have flowering plants, ornamental shrubs, and trees.
Okay, you may be asking, “What if I only have a single tree and a couple of shrubs in my landscape? Does that mean that I only have a ‘yard’, or can I call it a ‘garden.’ Well, if you look at the definitions from the dictionary, I think the word, ‘garden’ certainly applies. But, it certainly couldn’t hurt if you decide to add more trees and plants in my opinion 😉
A few years ago, I stopped referring to the area surrounding my home as a ‘yard’. I didn’t think that the term ‘yard’ described the landscape surrounding my house. (When I managed landscapes, we had a ‘maintenance yard’ where all of our equipment was kept and our offices were also located there as well. The term ‘yard’ did describe what we used that parcel of land for – a specific business or activity. But it certainly was not a term that I wanted for the area around my home.)
Now, my landscape is not particularly fancy…it’s rather simple, filled with plants that I love. And so I decided that I did not have a ‘yard.’ To be more specific, I did not have a ‘front yard’, ‘backyard’ or even a ‘side yard’. I had a garden. Today, I refer to them as my ‘front garden’, ‘back garden’ and ‘side garden’.
Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)
When I meet with clients, I like to refer to their landscape areas as their front garden and back garden. My hope is that they will see their “yard” as what it really is…..a garden.
So, what do you have? A ‘garden’ or a ‘yard’?
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."