You can hear in yard its resemblance to garden and girdle. All three words arise from a root meaning “to enclose, surround.” The most familiar sort of yard is the plot of ground surrounding a house, often planted in grass, flowers, and bushes—hence the ubiquitous yard sales and laborious yard work. Nearly as familiar, and probably older, is the use of yard to describe a plot of ground that is itself enclosed by a fence or wall and devoted to a specific purpose, as in a farmyard, churchyard, or shipyard. When loggers haul felled trees to a landing, they are said to be yarding. By analogy to the pen where poultry and livestock are kept, yard also means a place where deer or moose gather to feed in winter.

Scott Russell Sanders