An back garden in England, unusual in having no grass.

A back garden is a residential garden located at the rear of a property, on the other side of the house from the public street-side entrance and front garden.

Number and size of back gardensEdit

In Britain there are over 10 million back gardens.[1] Such gardens have a special place in English suburban and gardening culture.[2]

The shape and size of a garden are closely related to

  • how far from its neighbours a property is
  • its date of construction
  • whether it is terraced, semi-detached or detached
  • the value of land both currently and at the date of construction


A back garden arises from the distribution of land around a property. Land will often surround a property, unless it is semi-detached (sharing a single wall with a neighbouring property) or terraced (sometimes called row-housing), in which two lateral walls are shared with neighbouring properties.

In these conditions, land at the back of the property is separated by the property itself, and in many cases can only be accessed by passing through the house.

That land on the side away from the normal access route to the property is called the back garden.


In the US and Canada a back garden may be called a backyard garden or a back yard, or a backyard.

When it is usedEdit

Because of weather constraints it is usual to use a garden more in the summer than in the winter, although some usages are traditional, such as for a bonfire on Bonfire Night, 5 November. Similarly daytime usage is more common than night time.


While many properties accessing directly onto a street or an access route to a property may not have a front garden, virtually all will have some space at the back, however small, the exceptions being back to back housing common in northern industrial towns in England, for example.

A front garden is a formal and semi-public space and so subject to the constraints of convention and law. However, the back garden is more private and casual[3], and so can be put to more purposes.

Functional usesEdit

A back garden may be used for:

Many of the freedoms of the use of the back garden come from the restrictions, social or legal, of what are not done in the front.

Usually, clothes are not dried, vegetables are not grown and sunbathing is not carried out in a front garden. All these can happen in the privacy of the back garden. People treat a back garden as private to themselves, and not those they are neighbours to. In some areas talking to one's neighbours over the back wall (the side wall following the property boundary line) is usual, and is a welcome form of neighbourliness, in other places it is not.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jules N. Pretty. The Earth Only Endures: On Reconnecting With Nature and Our Place in It. Earthscan. pp. 36. ISBN 1844074323. 
  2. S Chevalier (1998). "From woollen carpet to grass carpet: bridging house and garden in an English suburb". Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226526011. "Every resident ... has a private garden divided into two areas, the front and the back garden whose social role is ..." 
  3. Richard Webster. Feng Shui in the Garden. Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 47. ISBN 1567187935. "The back garden is usually more private and casual" 

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