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How the American yard came to be.

Photo by our very own Crew Leader Stephen

Since the birth the of the United States of America, social trends have been heavily influenced by cultures around the world. For one thing, take a look at the landscapes around you. With affordable landscape options, people in today’s America, for the most part, are able to get creative with the plant material and design of their outdoor area.

It wasn’t always this easy, however, for households to have a planned landscape that fit their lifestyle ‘wants’ versus their ‘needs’ for survival. From being a reliable and necessary food source, to solely aesthetics and enjoyment, the American yard continues to develop and morph into the ultimate holistic use of one’s natural world.

While we don’t know exactly the first garden ever created by humans, we do know West Asia is where people began to really think intentionally about the space around them. To close off the outside world and create a version of the natural environment through modifying a piece of land. This mindful practice of garden design, the origins of landscape architecture, eventually spread westward.

As early civilizations continued to develop around the world, historians can find records of outdoor areas that were designed purely for aesthetics. These early gardens and common areas were where scholars developed a sense of appreciation for design, native plants species, engineering, and water supply, as well as the importance of providing these spaces to the public.

Throughout history, however, the natural space surrounding one’s home has been a direct reflection of the lifestyle, financial status and stability of the economy. For most people throughout history, and still to this day in many parts of the world, the area around a home has been used in manner that fed and protected the individuals in the household.

In the early stages of the newly developed United States of America, people were settling in all areas of the country. Because of this, gardening close to the home wasn’t for aesthetics, but instead of practicality. For those relying on a sustenance packed property to survive, flowers and grassy areas became less of a priority.

Eventually, as areas became more populated and people specialized in agricultural practices, the general public became less dependent on their own land for nutritional value and able to look at the outside of their home with an aesthetic value. As people continued to immigrate from around the world, personalized landscaping began to emerge as more common trends in households. The economic growth and structure of many areas allowed for home gardening to introduce native plants beyond fruit and vegetables. Even more so, it allowed for individualization of home yards within the general public.

People began to look at all areas of the home, both front and back, as viable options to extend their living area. Lawns, which were previously a social symbol due to the labor costs, became increasingly available to all social statuses with the accessibility of grass seed and the introduction of the first lawnmower in 1930 by Edwin Budding. Landscaping design and develop became a viable trade for people to research and make a living off of. With that, brought more products for the typical homeowner to use, such as tools, pesticides and design options.

Downtown Asheville Rooftop Garden

Gardening Supervisor Amanda on top of one of our client’s downtown Asheville rooftop garden.

With World War II, once again came another big push for home gardening with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s solution to fighting food shortages. When the war ended, however, so did the interest in his ‘victory gardens’. In the 1950s, the first ‘cookie-cutter’ homes were being developed as new suburbs for
affordable living on Long Island. These original American suburbs, built by Abraham Levitt and his
family, were one of the first homes to include a lawn already in place when homeowners bought the property. Many included strict rules on the presentation of the property around the homes, which culturally projected the concept that the landscape of a home was just as important as the inside.

One major influence in our modern day view of landscapes, can be contributed to the environmental movements of the 1960’s, along with the creation of Earth Day in 1970. Since then, we as a society have been able to really take a look at our home landscapes in a more holistic approach. For many, mixing edible plants with ornamental again became popular in the home, along with the appreciation for public parks and community gardens for those living in more urban areas. Even in 2009, the White House introduced it’s first garden since WWII – showing American’s the yard can be aesthetically pleasing and functional.Steps are a great way to help reach areas of your landscape.

Today, the majority of homes are able to individualize their landscape to their specific interests because of the amount of easily available services and materials. The diversity in landscape styles and practices from around the world can be seen while driving through neighborhoods throughout the country.

With economic stability, as well as accessibility to landscaping materials and services, the landscapes of America have a future that is really dependent on the interest level of the homeowner. We are able to take the time and look at the environmental impact of a person’s yard along with identifying the various
colors, styles and dive into the relationship the person wants to have with the yard. Creating a countryside environment in an urban area, fit with the sounds and scents, is just as achievable as creating minimalist yard in the country. Your dream outdoor space can become a reality.

With each client we get, as a local landscaping company, we are able to ask them, “what will make you happy?” To be able to ask that question, really is something that we should all be thankful for. Just the fact that so may people can create an outdoor living space to connect with nature, is an opportunity that many take for granted. The next time you are you out in your yard or public park, give thanks to having this opportunity. For those moments are how we know we’re lucky to be able to do what we love.

To take advantage of this opportunity and build your dream landscape, give us a call at 828.687.1677!

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