I asked Israelies in Israel and at first they said that both words are interchangable, but then consulted dictionaries and came to a conclusion that גינה has a broader use when you use it with other words: גינה שעשועים is an amusement park (also פרק שעשועים), also גינה is your piece of land where you grow stuff: plants, flowers, vegetables. חצר, they said is a yard, some said its a backyard, but all agree that its a space next to the house, where you can also grow things, but its not neccesarily dedicated to such purpose. I hope this helps.
A lot of the discussion on this page seems to be about the meaning of "yard" vs. "garden" in English, but that's not really the point. The real issue is what חצר means in Hebrew. Is it a courtyard (where you probably wouldn't grow anything), or does it refer to a big green area around the house (American "yard" or British "garden")? I thought that חצר meant the first, and that the place where you grow fruit or vegetables or flowers would be a גינה, but I'm just learning here. Can a native chime in?
You're in the UK? In the U.S. The yard is the front or the back. The garden is just part of the yard with a garden on it. Sometimes it's called the lawn if it's just grass. It might depend on where in the U.S. you're from or the type of community. (East Coast, front yard or lawn, backyard. Garden is just the garden area wherever it is, even on the side of the house (or in my case, a kitchen closet - yay hydroponics!)
I've only ever heard garden referred to as the whole back area in the UK.
(I am interested in finding out when to use gan vs gina for garden in Hebrew).
4 March 2019
Yes, although the feminine form of a noun is usually used to denote a single item of a collective noun (i.e. אֳנִי fleet versus אֳנִיָּה ship or שֵׂעָר hair versus שַׂעֲרָה single hair), גִּנָּה can mean, compared to גַּן, a smaller, private garten. As גַּן is often used shortly for גַּן־יְלָדִים kindergarden, I have the impression that גַּן meaning garden is mainly used in collocations which clarify its meaning like מְסִבַּת־גַּן garden party or גַּן־הַוְּרָדִים rose garden.
While in the Tanakh פְּרִי was mostly used as a collective noun (נתן עץ השדה את פריו Ezec 34.27 the tree of the field shall give its fruit), it seems nowadays you have to use the plural פֵירוֹת when speaking of more than one piece of fruit, i.e. it has fully become a countable noun.
Yes indeed, if a noun starts with the consonant חֵית followed by the vowel קָמָץ, the article changes to הֶ־, like הֶחָיָה the wise. But beware, if the vowel is only a פַּתָּח or shortened to a חֲטָף, this does not happen, like in הַחַיָּה the animal or הַחֲצֵרוֹת the yards