Learn about Life in the 1920s

The garden is a place to rest, work, and play. Back of all there is the kitchen garden, the drying yard, the chicken run, a place for the pets, the chidren's swing and sand pit, and many other features.

Lady Potting Flowers



THE first considerations in the composition of a garden or the grounds around one's place are privacy, shelter, and unity of design.

The planning and arrangement of the features of a garden should be as carefully considered as the choice and placing of the furniture in one's home, or the choosing of one's clothes. The garden should present a suitable, agreeable and comfortable composition.

The arrangement of the drives and the grading of the lawns, the drainage when necessary, and the relations of the buildings and other structures should all be preconceived and settled in an orderly, economical manner. As far as possible, there should be no mistake about the main permanent features. The minor features may be changed quite a great deal in the coming years and almost surely will, as new ideas and points of view assert themselves. This changing of the minor features is a part of the recreation of gardening. Thus, one may considerably alter the contour of a shrubbery border, or may indeed eliminate it altogether. The same holds good of flower beds and borders which are easily altered, removed or added to; but with large trees or the heavier groups of shrubs, the expense of removal and shifting prohibit this being done except out of dire necessity.


Where it is possible to choose the location of the house the best orientation is southeast or south, as shown in the diagrams on pages 2 and 3. In any case, as abundant sunshine is desirable, see to it that the windows and living rooms face in the direction of abundant light. Those places that are hidden beneath a dense canopy or half a forest of trees may be pleasing to some, but they are rather depressing to most people, besides being, one should imagine, not conducive to health. :

While winding paths or drives are often graceful, they should not be made meaninglessly. They are only appropriate where there is a permanent feature, such as a valuable tree or shrub to be avoided, or where the contours of the ground are such that the path should follow the line of the slope.

No book can tell the reader exactly what may be the best arrangement for his garden or property, for every garden should have a character of its own. It is remarkable what can be done on a quarter or an eighth of an acre and there are many plots of 30 ft. by 100 ft. designed with much taste and which are full of interest. In those towns and cities of our own country and in the older countries where the inhabitants, almost to a man, appreciate the elegancies of gardening, the little places exhibit the utmost variety of character in their composition

It is all too true that thousands of gardens and grounds all around our American homes are bare to desolation. The democratic idea against the planting of hedges and the lining off of one's property promotes deadly uniformity. The arguments that unhedged or unfenced grounds would be contrary to the best artistic conception and treatment of a city or a suburb as a whole ought not to be allowed to sway the property owner from making the most and the best of his own place. There is a school of city planners which seems to set its face against this, encouraging the open community type of home grounds. The latter will never get us anywhere as a nation of garden lovers, for the theory almost entirely precludes the practice of finer gardening. We plead rather to see places nicely hedged or fenced off for the sake of the enjoyment and encouragement of that quiet privacy without which the true pleasures of gardening cannot be obtained.


THE lawn furnishes the setting for a house, and if it is trim, smooth, and of a healthy green, it will add the finishing touch to an attractive home which no amount of planting can give. Wide-spreading slopes or level terraces of turf are the outdoor delight of many homes, from the humblest cottages to the largest mansions. Neat lawns are ever the sign of a family that is thrifty and home loving.

But a good lawn does not come by chance nor nourish when neglected. It takes just as much intelligent preparation and constant vigilance and care as does the flower garden, the shrubbery or vegetable garden. Making and caring for a lawn is an art in itself, one that we are just coming to understand in America, and one that is made easier by the materials and tools that have come on the market in recent years. Many new facts have been discovered, too, in recent years by experimental work and from golf course experience.

The first principle to be followed in acquiring a beautiful lawn is to plan it so that the surface will not be cut up by meaningless and inappropriate beds. Such beds, in large lawns, sometimes detract from the feeling of repose, and in small lawns they make any artistic landscape treatment difficult. Also, trees and shrubs, which are arranged haphazardly and thickly about a lawn, are objectionable. Many a home yard is utterly spoiled by this spotty appearance. The lawn should be thought of as a feature by itself, as a unit of beauty, and the trees, shrubs and flowers should be arranged along the margins as far as possible. In some cases, no better effect can be gained than by allowing the cool, green lawn in places to run directly up to the bricks or brown stone houses.


Some pains should be taken to have clean, well made paths. Take out 6 or 8 in. of soil and fill with clinkers, rough ashes or stones, finishing off with smaller stones, bound or rolled in with a little soil. For a strong permanent road concrete may be employed. If a cement surface is objected to gravel can be strewn over and rolled in before the cement sets. Grass paths are comfortable and brick is also good. It is well to have a tile, slate or wooden edging to the paths as this promotes neatness and is easier to care for.


There should be a careful selection of the plant material to be used and special attention should be given to the colors of the blossoms and the season of bloom, thus insuring a sequence of interest in the flowers, fruits and twigs. In the accompanying plans (pages 11 to 29) the selection of plant material and its arrangement has been made with the purpose of giving each individual plant ample area in which to develop fully, rather than the more prodigal plan of a massed planting. This method is better suited to the moderate sized home grounds.

On the properties shown the main body of the house is usually placed at a point one-third of the distance back from the property line. The position of the home from the side property lines is also restricted, usually from 10 to 25 ft. according to the width of the lot. Quarters for the car are often provided in the house basement, but if a garage is to be erected it should be placed not less than 25 ft. from the nearest point of the house.

For reasons of economy the approach to the garage may consist of two tracks 18 in. wide, as are indicated on the diagrams.


In each of the plans a little interest has been added by including small, formal flower or Rose gardens. The beds in these gardens, as well as those at the base of the house, should be excavated to a depth of not less than 18 in., and refilled with a mixture of good soil and well rotted manure (preferably cow manure) thoroughly worked through the soil. In the Rose gardens, if the drainage is not likely to be satisfactory, the excavation should be increased to 2 ft. and broken stone placed in the bottom to a depth of 6 in. and covered with old sod before refilling with the top soil.


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The decision whether one shall have a vegetable or flower garden, or both, depends largely upon the amount of ground available and the inclination of the individual. The locality also has some influence. A shut-in city plot does not make a satisfactory vegetable garden, and one heavily shaded by trees is more or less hopeless. Vegetables need air and sunlight to a greater degree than most ornamental plants.

In considering a collection of fruit trees for a suburban garden, particular attention will be given those varieties which produce a maximum amount of fruit in a minimum of space and which are designed to supply the family with fruit for the table and culinary purposes the greater part of the year. Available space must, of course, be considered in planting a fruit garden, and location must determine to a large degree the manner of planting and arrangement of the different fruits so as to allow each kind the greatest amount of light and air possible. Apples and Pears, Peaches, Plums and Cherries, therefore, should be planted to avoid casting too great a shade on the smaller fruits such as Strawberries and Currants. Raspberries, Blackberries and Grapes should be confined to trellises and not allowed to extend beyond certain limits, but to accomplish this, regular attention to pruning and thinning is absolutely necessary. A small fruit garden judiciously planned and planted will be a source of pleasure and profit, and well repay all the attention that can be bestowed upon it.

THE joys of backyard beekeeping are yearly being experienced by more and more city dwellers. A "bee garden" along with a hive or two will assist in pollenation of flowers and blossoms while providing an enjoyable hobby.

To the city dweller who delights in a beautiful home surrounded by grounds carefully landscaped with cool banks of shrubbery and the warmer tinges of beds bordered by multi-colored flowers; the man or woman who thrills in watching bulbs burst into tender verdant growth, and newly made lawns tinge with green overnight, who delights to kneel in the soft dark earth and carefully working his hands thru the cool moist soil beneath a choice violet plant to lift it tenderly from its place and carry it away to a better location—to this man or woman a hive or two of golden bees will open up an ever-widening field of recreation and pleasure.


To those who spend from $200 to $400 or more yearly on plants and flowers there is real economy in owning a greenhouse, and those who spend less will find the value of its output in excess of this amount, for the abundance of flowers, vegetables, bedding and potted plants that can be grown in a small greenhouse is far out of proportion to the investment and would cost much more were they to be bought elsewhere. This is even more pronounced in homes where there is a gardener or attendant who looks after the place. The man has little to do during the Winter months, so that a greenhouse provides a means of employing his time to grow flowers and plants and to raise vegetable and bedding plants for the garden when they are needed.


In the main, deciduous trees and shrubs have been specified because of the opportunity of establishing a more varied texture effect than is possible with evergreens. For those who may prefer a Winter effect, especially in the base planting, the following conifers are suggested as good substitutions for the deciduous shrubs:

Shrubs of a pyramidal habit for planting at the corners and in front of columns or roof leaders: Thuja pyramidalis, Taxus baccata hibernica, Juniperus communis hibernica, Juniperus columnaris, Juniperus virginiana schotti or cannarti.

Shrubs to plant between these pyramidal accents: Taxus cuspidata, Taxus brevifolia, Thuja nana aurea, Thuja occidentalis globosa, Thuja occidentalis siberica, Juniperus communis depressa plumosa, Juniperus chinensis pfitzeriana (this, however, is likely to grow rapidly and become too large for a base planting in front of porches where the floor level is rather close to the ground).

The Chamaecyparis or Japanese Cypress embraces a large variety of evergreens. These are very satisfactory for base planting, and as they may be sheared and kept within bounds, are quite desirable for the purpose. The following varieties are recommended: Chamae-cyparis pisifera plumosa, C. p. plumosa aurea, C. pisifera, C. p. aurea, C. p. squarrosa. The last is a blue-gray variety of beautiful texture. The smaller sorts, such as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana gracilis, C. obtusa and C. o. nana are excellent for base plantings where slower growing plants are desired. It is well not to plant them too closely together as evergreens soon lose their foliage when crowded.

Ground cover plants may be placed among these shrubs, the following varieties being good for the purpose: Ceratostigma plumbagi-noides, Vinca minor, Vinca alpina (which is especially desirable and more unusual than the former variety), Nepeta mussini, Pachysandra terminalis, Iberis sempervirens and the Violas (Tufted Pansies). Some bulbous plants may be used in connection with the cover plants and will add to the interest of the plantation in the Spring season. The use of cover plants makes it possible to space the more expensive shrubs farther apart at a considerable saving.

Lastly, there is no place too uncompromising that it cannot by dint of knowledge, skill, effort and some small financial expenditure be made into a beautiful garden. Train your powers of observation; at every turn you will gain some experiences or suggestions that may be modified or adopted with profit on your own grounds.