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From Yard to Garden: The Domestication of America’s Home Grounds

Articles: From Yard to Garden: The Domestication of America’s Home Grounds

“It is a curious phenomenon, however, that home grounds have been popularly linked in the public mind to horticulture and gardening because, when one looks closely, this association does not bear out.”

America’s gardening style of nationally prevalent sweeping lawns, foundation plantings, low maintenance plants, patios, and prominent garages often seem like the furnishings of an outdoor room rather than a garden. In his fascinating book, landscape architect Christopher Grampp discusses the evolution of the American yard and garden from a strictly utilitarian place to an outdoor room, best understood in terms of habitability, whose criteria of success is: “was this a place where people would want to spend time?” Grampp, with wit and perception describes the social, economic, and media influences that shaped the American yard and garden from the nineteenth century to the present.

Illuminating anecdotes are found throughout the book; for example, the front picket fence, which we hold as a prerequisite for a nostalgic domestic garden, was originally designed to deter voracious pigs that ran loose on public streets. Such anecdotes are interesting in themselves, but also enlighteni...

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