Front Gardens or Front Yards?

We have been asked many times "Why use front yard" surely that's just an Americanism? Well, yes, North Americans do refer to the front yard and the back yard. But if we look at the history of the two words, garden and yard, we are doing anything but importing a word. We are in fact resurrecting the old English 'geard' the root of the word yard in the face of the old French 'gardin' – from whence garden. The point is that the contemporary urban front yard is not simply a garden – it has to perform a whole host of other functions – like storing wheelie bins and bicycles. This is not to degrade the cultivation – the gardening of the front yard, but helps us imagine a host of different arrangements for the space in front of our houses and flats. Not so long ago we used the space in front of our houses to demonstrate respectability – the tidiness of our privet hedges and so forth. A new respectability seems to be emerging, placing greater emphasis on our wit & acumen: our sustainable methods of transport, our recycling, our home grown tomatoes, and the vitality of our imagination.