enter image description here

(Source: https://www.eyre-design.co.uk/garden-design/back-gardens/)

After I have done my research, this is what I understand.

Have a look at the picture above.

British will say "front/back yard" for the area of hard surface (as in the picture) and say "garden" for the area that has bushes, flowers and vegetables.

American will say "front/back yard" for the whole area (the area with hard surface and the one with bushes and flowers and vegetables. And American also says "garden" for the area that has bushes, flowers and vegetables.

Is that correct?

  • 1
    I can only speak as one American, but that's a patio, not a yard. A yard is natural ground; it might be landscaped, but it's not paved and raised like this. Commented Jan 29 at 16:10
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    A British yard is not a paved area in a garden, but a completely hard-surfaced area, often used for keeping your dustbins in, storing solid fuel and other practical purposes.. A small town house might have one instead of a garden, a larger property might have both. Commented Jan 29 at 19:03
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    @Lambie That's just not accurate for the AmE I know (Midwest and Southern US). What I see in that picture is a patio and a flower bed. If that were the entire area behind the house that the homeowner possessed then they might call it their back yard, but that would be a house with almost no exterior property. If the grassy area we can see at the right of the picture extended a significant distance, the entire collection of patio, bed, and lawn would be the back yard. No American would call any of that a garden of any type. Commented Jan 30 at 4:01
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    @Lambie I disagree strongly regarding AmE using garden in the sense you're insisting on, but this is not the place to argue. I've made my point previously and there is an answer which explains the AmE use already. Commented Feb 1 at 3:43
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    Why doesn't one - or even both - of you post an actual answer that can be voted on, instead of bickering in comments… again, claiming to be far too important to have your opinions subject to voting. Commented Feb 1 at 15:22

6 Answers 6


A garden in American English means a patch of ground set aside for the growing of specific plants; the immediate curtilage of a home, typically planted with grass and used for recreation, is a yard.

British English uses “garden” for both

An American would not let his dog in the garden; it might eat something. Playing with your dog in the yard is a time-honored joy.

  • 1
    We also use the word yard in the UK, but it's an area devoid of any plants, typically a hard/paved surface, often used for specific purposes. It can be used to describe outdoor domestic or industrial spaces.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jan 29 at 21:19
  • @BillyKerr — American English has that use too: “prison yard”, “rental yard”, and so forth. But if an American said “Get off my yard” he means, get off his lawn, not the paved area used for industrial purposes. Commented Jan 30 at 1:50
  • American gardens are often described according to what they're growing as well. I've got a vegetable garden in my side yard, and my mother-in-law has an herb garden in her back yard. My neighbor might have a flower garden (or as at the White House, a rose garden) in his front yard. Where I live (US Midwest), if I were to tell a person that I was "growing a garden next summer" then they would assume I meant a vegetable patch. Commented Jan 30 at 3:54
  • I think there are some regional differences in the UK. In some parts of the UK (North of England? Particularly where small terraced houses with yards are historically the dominant form of working-class housing?) it may refer to a garden or at least a space in front of or behind a house. But more generally it's largely used to mean an outdoor space (often enclosed on the sides/fenced in) used for some kind of industry, manufacturing, storage, or other practical purpose.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 30 at 9:47
  • "An American would not let his dog in the garden" Please, not true.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 2 at 14:30

As a Brit, I would call your picture a garden. The confusion may arise because it has three distinct areas, a planted area, hard paving & a 'deck' or 'patio'.

From what I've gathered over the years, an American could have a front and/or back yard, some of which may be given over to grass or planting. An American can have 'a garden in their yard'.
A Brit cannot. The two are distinct.

A British garden is given over to planting - grass, flowers, vegetables. It may also have a terrace, patio or deck, similar to the above picture, which would need further description, but the overall space is a garden, not a yard.

A yard is an entirely hard space, concrete, tarmac, stone- or brick-paved, but it is not a driveway. It can be separately enclosed. It's likely where you keep the bins, or the bikes. Beyond that may indeed be a garden, with grass, veg, flowers.

To complete the set, as others have mentioned, a walkway through a yard or garden is a path. A walkway on a road or street is a pavement [or sometimes the term path may be extended to this]. It is never a sidewalk, that's an American-only word.

I grew up in an old Victorian house. To the front we had a garden - trees, grass, flowers, enclosed by hedges; a stone path up the middle to the front door.
At the rear we had a stone-paved yard, brick-built utility buildings to one side [gardening implements, bikes etc], and entirely enclosed in a 6ft tall brick wall, with a gate. [Somewhat similar to the pictures below, but it wasn't one of a tightly-packed set of terraces, there were only three houses, with a lot of space around.]
Beyond the gate was a gravel driveway, which went sideways past the house to the garage, which was off to one side. Beyond the drive was a small grassed area, then a fence & another gate - leading to a large 'true' garden. Initially a vegetable garden with just enough grass to walk around & up the centre; later given over to an almost tropical 'show garden' with rare plants, shrubs & flowers - and a fake wishing well; an American might call it 'quaint'… I'd call it 'twee' ;) This was enclosed on three sides by tall, impenetrable hedges.

These are photos of one of the Coronation Street [TV show] sets. This type of terraced housing only had a 'back yard'. No garden to either front or rear.

enter image description here enter image description here

There is very little of this type of housing remaining in the UK, but it survives as a 'cultural memory'.


Speaking as an American: Americans use "yard" to mean an area around your house that is covered with grass. An American would not call a paved area a "yard". If you had a paved walk through a grassy area, we might call that part of the yard. But we certainly would not call a sidewalk or an area for parking a car a "yard" or part of a yard.

A paved area is a "sidewalk" if it runs along the street. Other paved areas intended for people to walk on -- as opposed to use by vehicles -- are simply a "walk". If intended to be used by a car, like a paved area leading from the road to the house, or an area to park a cark, it's called a "driveway". A large paved area intended for people to walk around and stand on, like might be used for a party, as opposed to a narrow walkway, is a "patio".

A grassy area is a "lawn" or "yard". "Yard" also includes areas with trees and bushes. A place where you are growing flowers or vegetables is a "garden".

So in your picture, I'd call the paved area a "patio". The area with bushes I'd probably call a "yard", though with no grass at all that would be questionable. An American would not call it a "garden".

I THINK you are correct about British terminology but I've never been to Britain and am definitely not an expert.

  • As a fellow American, I would still call the entire area my "backyard". For example, "I have a large patio that takes up most of my backyard."
    – YonKuma
    Commented Jan 29 at 19:07
  • Yes, I think it gets fuzzy there. Like I once had a cement walk from my house to my tool shed. I thought of that as "part of my yard". Maybe you'd call a patio part of your yard. I probably wouldn't, I'd say, "Behind my house is a patio, and beyond that is my yard". But we often lump things together. Like I wouldn't normally think of a factory as "the country". But if a factory was surrounded by cornfields, I might say this factory is "in the country".
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 31 at 15:14

Speaking as a British person, the word "yard" would not enter my head in connection with that picture. It is a garden.

A yard is not something I associate with a private house at all, but a functional paved area you might find at a school or factory.

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    You've never seen a row of terraces… or Coronation Street? Commented Jan 30 at 9:19
  • OK, @DoneWithThis., yes I concede that does exist. It's not something I've encountered much.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 30 at 10:48

An issue we appear to be running into with this question is that there are people who are experienced with the BrE use of the word garden and others who are experienced with the AmE use, so we're not getting a single cohesive answer to the question. If anyone would like to copy all or any part of the following to incorporate into their answer (assuming you find it valuable) I invite you to do so freely.

Regarding the American English use of yard:

In AmE, yard is used in two ways. First, it matches the BrE use in the sense that it can be a section of usually hard paved land that is set aside for a particular business use. Ex: a lumber yard, rail yard, or similar. The second use is for a defined section of land, usually relatively small, that is attached to a home. It is the sum of all of the property around a home that is tended, and is sometimes divided into a back, side, and/or front yard.

The yard around a home can contain things like lawns, gardens, walkways, patios, horticultural beds, outbuildings, and driveways. The entire collection of these areas that belongs to a home is that home's yard. It is often, but by no means always, fenced off from the neighbors' properties.

If a person owns a larger piece of land, most of it is not usually included as part of their yard. A farmer who had an acre or so of lawn and tended land around their home along with hundreds more acres of tended crops would call the lawn and horticultural beds around their home their yard, and the area with crops would be their field or fields. If it were a large forested area instead of fields, they'd divide the area into their yard, immediately adjacent to the home, and their woods or forest.

This can be used figuratively for emphasis. For example, someone boasting about living next to nature might say something like, "This is my back yard." and gesture toward wild mountains and valleys. A wealthy person might call a huge tended lawn their yard in order to emphasize their wealth.

Examples of American backyards: This is a reasonably sized American backyard, not huge but not tiny either. a mid-sized backyard

This is a backyard in the desert southwest of the US. It is heavily landscaped, and there's no grass, but the collective area inside the fence is still a yard. a backyard in the desert southwest of the US

Regarding the American English use of garden:

In AmE a garden is a specific piece of land that has been dedicated to the care and growth of a specific plant or category of plants or similar (ex: a fairy garden or rock garden). It is a subset of a yard and often is labeled according to what is being grown. Common gardens include vegetable, herb, flower (often specifically rose), water (for the cultivation of water plants), rain, and rock gardens.

If there is a horticultural bed, as in your picture, that is planted with a variety of species and types of plants, it would generally not be called a garden unless there were some unifying theme. Perhaps the plants were specifically chosen and placed because they are shade-loving, then you might call it a shade garden or if they are all native species, you might call it a native garden. However, neither of those appear to be true in this case (just judging based on the plants I see), so this particular patch of ground would almost surely not be called a garden.

To be clear, there are places in the US where the British sense of garden is used. For example, a mansion with a large tended area around it might call it their gardens. However, this is used specifically to bring to mind the British use of the word with the intent to make the home, its surroundings, and the homeowners seem more cultured and refined. There are also large areas where plants are tended called botanical gardens. However, the common use of the word as at a normal person's home is what I've described above and appears to be what you are asking about.

Examples of gardens comparable to those you'd find around a home in the US:

A vegetable garden: A vegetable garden (actual location is in China)

A water garden: A water garden

A fairy garden: a fairy garden

An AmE analysis of the picture in the question:

In AmE the hard surfaced area with chairs would be called a patio. The area with gravel and pavers next to it would possibly also be considered an extension of the patio, or it might be called a walkway. The area with plants under the tree would be called a bed or perhaps a flower bed (even though there are not obvious flowers planted in it). The grassy area at right would be called a lawn. The totality of these areas would be called a yard, or perhaps a back, front, or side yard, if the location relative to the home were important. There is no readily visible garden in this picture, in AmE usage.


I believe garden means a wide space with plants and trees while Yard can be anything even the sidewalk or just a wide concrete land lot.

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