How And Why Did Lawns Become Commonplace In The American Landscape

When most people picture the American Dream, they probably picture a beautiful multi-story home in the suburbs, surrounded by a lush green lawn. But why is it that grass, and not trees, flowers, or other plants, is the desired crop? Today, we’ll explore the fascinating history of how and why lawns came to be and how a little invention came to change the face of lawn care forever.

Why Do We Have Lawns Anyway?

The Middle Ages

To answer that question, we need to go back to Europe – specifically, the Middle Ages. The first lawns appeared around the castles of English and French aristocracy. These early lawns were not for aesthetic purposes so much as security. In those medieval times, you needed to keep lands cleared so you could see if enemy armies came marching. It’s not easy to do that when trees surround your estate. Without trees to soak up the sun, the grass would sprout up in the clearings. The etymological history of the word “lawn” comes from the Middle English word “launde,” which means a glade or cleared area of the forest.

There’s also evidence that not all lawns were made of grass. Many estates likely used chamomile as a ground cover since it was low enough that you could still see enemy soldiers coming. The plants have a lovely fragrance and don’t require as much water as turf grass does to maintain.

The World’s First Lawn Mower

In the Middle Ages, they didn’t have lawnmowers, so lawn maintenance was done through two means: either peasants would use heavy sickles and scythes to trim the grass, or animals would be allowed to graze.

The 1600s – 1700s

By the late 17th century, it wasn’t only royal palaces that had lawns but also the wealthy noble class. Maintaining these lawns was very labor-intensive and time-consuming, which is why only the upper-class was able to afford lawns, making them a status symbol.

The Industrial Revolution

From about 1790 – 1830, the world saw a huge change. Inventors were creating all kinds of new machines that promised to make life easier and work faster. In 1830, a man named Edwin Budding developed the first lawnmower, but it didn’t really catch on until the late 1800s – more on this in a moment. During the Industrial Revolution, cities became cramped and polluted. People came from the countryside to new factories looking for work, and all those factories had to run on coal, which belched out pollution. Consequently, people who could afford it started moving out of city centers into the suburbs where they could escape the dirtiness with a little bit of greenery. These families began to purchase the new-fangled lawnmowers, and suddenly lawns were no longer only for the wealthiest of the wealthy.

During the late 1800s/early 1900s, outdoor games like golf, bowling, croquet, and other sports grew in popularity since people worked fewer hours and had more leisure time. You needed a lawn to play those games on your own property, and voila – the lawn became a stable of American households.

Postwar America

When the Greatest Generation returned from fighting World War II, they began starting families, and cities once again became too crowded. When Abraham Levitt created “Levittowns” – think the epitome of American 1950s suburbia – these cookie-cutter homes came with a pre-installed lawn and instructions on caring for the little green patch. This is when having a green, weed-free lawn became almost synonymous with having good moral character. And it’s this ideal that has been embedded in the American psyche ever since!

And while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, having a well-groomed landscape can play a major role in real estate value and curb appeal! Research shows that landscaping can influence the price of a home by as much as 14%. The lawn care industry has come a long way from those early days of medieval royalty. The lawn services industry in 2020 was worth about $105 billion and is expected to grow to $114 billion by the end of 2021.

Find Lawn Care Services Near Grapevine, Texas

Want your lawn to look like the home of royalty? We can help! The experts at Organic Matter Lawn Care will have your grass looking as lush, thick, and green as the medieval aristocracy. Plus, our lawn care program uses only the highest quality organic-based products! And if you’re lawn is plagued by grubs or surface insects, we can assist with that as well. To learn more about organic-based lawn care or to sign up for our 7-step program, give us a call at 817-888-8961 or send us a message through our online form here.

We hope you enjoyed this blog! For more tips on maintaining a healthy, green, and weed-free yard, be sure to check our past blog posts here.