The home garden television genre originally consisted of programming that was as much, if not more, about instruction as it was about entertainment. Early home improvement programs often were staged with little more than a handyman in his workshop demonstrating to viewers how to complete this or that project. Eventually, again like the food genre, home and garden television began to incorporate entertainment value, and the genre made its way to niche cable networks, where it picked up the influences of reality television.
The home genre achieved large-scale popularity in the 1980s with the rise of This Old House on PBS. Although it contained some elements of instruction, the show was primarily concerned with entertainment as it presented cutting-edge building technologies and documented the process of home renovation. Along with programs like The Victory Garden, which debuted in 1975 and was the first national gardening program on American TV, This Old House made PBS the center of the home and garden genre.
Home and Garden TV, a cable network that would eventually come to be known simply as HGTV, went on the air in 1994. From its debut, HGTV produced a full schedule of original home and garden programming, and in the beginning the programming was much like the broadcast-network programs that had come before, mostly focused on do-it-yourself instruction for homeowners and gardeners. Later programming, however, owed more to reality TV, as shows such as House Hunters and Designed to Sell followed home buyers and homeowners through their searches for new homes and design makeovers of the homes they already owned.
Hybrids of the home improvement show and game shows surfaced, too. Staged competitions in these shows feature contestants working through construction and design projects, with the winner of the competition ultimately having a shot at hosting his or her own show.