At private homes in rural settings, defined yards often were attached to service buildings used to house livestock or to store firewood or to outdoor kitchens.
Eventually the term yard evolved throughout the 18C into the description of a cultivated area enclosed or attached to a dwelling that might contain flowers, orchard or shade trees, or a lawn intended to be used as a pleasure ground and exercise area.
North Carolinian William Martin visiting Richmond, Virginia in 1813, wrote, "every private yard is decorated with the handsomest shade trees which our Country boasts."
Other yards on larger rural properties were meant for livestock such as cow yards, pig yards, barn yards, poultry yards, chicken yards, turkey yards, & goose yards. Domestic work yards, especially those used to house animals, were usually separated from kitchen & floral or pleasure gardens by fences or walls.
On smaller properties, homeowners often divided the land closer to the rear of the house into yards. These often included a woodyard or a stackyard for storing wood for heating.
Often colonials & early Americans would simply refer to their yards. Occasionally writers, especially visitors from England or the Continent, would leave the term yard off of a description of a court yard, simply referring to a court.