Cloth $32.50 ISBN: 9781930066748 Published August 2008

From Yard to Garden

The Domestication of America’s Home Grounds

Christopher Grampp

From Yard to Garden

Christopher Grampp

Distributed for Columbia College Chicago Press

277 pages | 90 halftones | 6-3/4 x 9 | © 2008
Cloth $32.50 ISBN: 9781930066748 Published August 2008
The garden means more to Americans than simply the plants it contains: It is a gathering place, a retreat from the demands of daily life, and an extension of the family home. The history of the American home garden is fundamentally intertwined with our national culture and character, and Christopher Grampp reveals this fascinating story through engaging text and numerous images.

            In the early 1800s, Americans employed their home grounds for agriculture, sustenance, and domestic activities.  Grampp takes this as the starting point for his narrative, from which he tracks the evolution of the American front and back yards as the nation evolved from an agrarian to an industrial economy. He connects the emergence of the modern home garden to the rise of suburbanization, the growth of city services and the post–World War II baby boom, which established the single-family home and its grounds as the ideal American dwelling. From Yard to Garden argues that the home garden is best understood as an expression of “habitability,” or the ways in which Americans have collectively and individually transformed their home grounds into functional outdoor living areas. Grampp analyzes the gardens of California homes as quintessential examples, revealing that the mild climate, demographics, land costs, and media influences of the region have led many California homeowners to create beautiful outdoor family rooms.

            A captivating and vibrantly illustrated study, From Yard to Garden digs up the broader historical reasons why we seek to create personal Edens in our own yards.

Part One: American Yard

Chapter One: From Dooryard to Urban Yard

Chapter Two: The Front Yard Beautiful

Chapter Three: The Back Yard Sanctified

Chapter Four: The Modern Yard Emerges

Chapter Five: A Back Yard Family Room

Chapter Six: The Suburban Yard Under Fire

Part Two: California Garden

Chapter Seven: California and the Inside-Out House

Chapter Eight: Sunset Magazine and the Outdoor Room

Chapter Nine: A Private World

Chapter Ten: Garden or Desert?

Part Three: Outlook for America’s Home Grounds

Chapter Eleven: The Common-Interest Landscape




About the Author

Review Quotes
Paul Groth, University of California at Berkeley, and author of Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States
“In From Yard to Garden, Christopher Grampp has produced a work of major importance and significant originality. This book will change the way Americans see and understand their homes, yards, and gardens. Grampp provides the first full-length and thoroughly documented history of the American back yard. He takes courageous, new positions that are sure to prompt thinking for all his readers and to suggest further research by his academic readers. The illustrations and captions are absolutely excellent.
 “Grampp’s writing style is direct, clear, personal, and always approachable. He provides enough detail—and so much original new information—that the specialist, academic reader will be intrigued and satisfied; yet the narrative moves forward quickly enough to engage even the general reader who may be entirely new to the subject. Grampp’s writing also sparkles with real humor.”
David Streatfield, University of Washington, and author of California Gardens: Creating a New Eden
“This book is a distinguished contribution to the rather neglected area of outdoor domestic space in this country. The author has done a superb job of bringing together research materials from a wide and disparate range of sources, tying them together in a highly readable manner that should appeal to a broad audience.
 “This work establishes Chris Grampp as a most effective scholar of small vernacular American gardens. He has read a widely and effectively in the primary literary and archival photographic sources. He has also conducted valuable and original research in the form of interviews that clearly establish the values underlying residents’ reactions to new gardens in the communities at the suburban fringes of the San Francisco Bay area.
 “The organization makes this an attractive book that should appeal both to the common reader and an academic audience."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Grampp’s writing is clear and straightforward. . . . It’s illustrated with enlightening archival photographs and packed with fascinating oddments. Who knew that the prototype lawn mower was used to trim nap in carpet factorties?"
Keith Crotz | The American Gardner
"A fascinating account of how the present day home garden evolved from its rude beginnings in the early 1800s."

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