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History of the First Lawn Mower

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

On any given Sunday if you walk outside your front door there is a likely chance you will hear the common sound of the gas powered lawn mower. Now an everyday commodity that most people use it was not always this way. We examined the history of the American lawn – here we look at the rise of the modern lawn mower.

Mechanical mowing came about early in the 19th century and there is a general agreement that an Englishman, Edwin Budding, an engineer at a textile mill, developed a cylinder, or reel-type mower. It was a series of blades arranged around a cylinder with a push handle patterned after a machine used in a cloth factory for shearing the nap on velvet. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a machine that basically brought push mowing to the masses. By 1885, America was building 50,000 lawnmowers a year and shipping them to every country on the globe.

For the average American, the invention of the garden hose and the rotary mower made the lawn a more realistic option. Until then, lawns were just too much bother for most families. When most of the necessary tools and types of grass seeds became readily available, the average homeowner was now able to grow a lawn of their own if they wanted. As of yet, there wasn’t a real big demand for green lawns in the front yard. It wasn’t until The American Garden Club stepped in. Through contests and other forms of publicity, they convinced home owners that it was their civic duty to maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn. So effective was the club’s campaign that lawns were soon the accepted form of landscaping. The garden club further stipulated that the appropriate type of lawn was “a plot with a single type of grass with no intruding weeds, kept mown at a height of an inch and a half, uniformly green, and neatly edged.” America thus entered the age of lawn care.

Today, U.S. homeowners spend over $17 billion on outdoor home improvements. More than 26 million households hired a green professional, according to an older Gallup survey and this number is expected to grow. Your little patch of green has become a big business.

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