History of Lawn Mowers : Know The Beginning
A lawn mower is something that most lawn owners take for granted. But have you ever pondered over its importance? It is interesting to trace the lawnmowers’ origin, and how cutting grass using a scythe or with the help of a grazing sheep has come a long way today operated by robots powered by the likes of Google and Alexa.
It is fascinating to read the history of Lawn Mowers and how it developed with time. It is only after so much invention and brainstorming sessions that today you can find a mower for all your lawn requirements.
Lawns in the early days
Lawns were earlier the highlight of the French and the English castles. These were fields clear of trees not to let the enemies sneak into the palace. Grasses came up naturally, and this gave birth to the lawns.
Lawns mean a meadow or an opening in the wood, which comes from the English word launde. It was a common area where the farmers grazed their livestock. In the early days, cows and sheep were used to mow the lawn, which left-back their droppings, which needed more mowing.
It was only in the 1700s that the first manicured lawn was introduced in Europe. Skilled scythes and shears were used to cut the grass with hand. However, maintaining it was labor extensive and inefficient. And the final result was still not up to the mark.
The First Lawn Mower
Realizing the benefits of a well-maintained lawn, there arose the need to invent a lawn mower. And the inspiration for the first lawn mower came from a cloth trimming tool. The first lawn mower was invented and patented in the year 1830 by Edwin Beard Budding from Gloucestershire.
A machine in a local cloth mill used a cylinder with a bladed reel to trim any irregular nap from the velvet and woolen surface that gave Budding the idea. The cutting cylinder gave the cloth a smooth finish, and Budding decided to replicate this concept in a lawn mower.
Budding invented a reel-type mower that used a series of blades arranged around the cylinder. The design was later used in the modern reel mower, which measured 19 inches in width and was made from cast iron gear wheels and wrought iron.
It wasn’t easy to push the mower, which gave rise to the idea of an extra handle to pull the machine. A T-shaped handle was introduced in the front of the mower to pull it when required.
In 1832, Budding and John Ferrabee sold more than 1000 mowers that were manufactured at the Phoenix Iron Works in Thrupp. They also licensed other companies to manufacture a similar mower.
Many companies started working to develop the idea further. Still, the original idea of Budding was so robust that there was very little change that was needed to develop the mower further. Surprisingly Budding’s innovation and design are still in use today in the human-powered and modern reel mowers.
After 10 years, Scotsman Alexander Shanks invented a pony-drawn reel mower of 27 inches in the year 1842, where an animal could hitch the mower. The horse was made to wear soft leather not to leave indents on the lawn.
History of Chain Driven Mower
With mowers gaining in popularity came the design of a chain-driven mower that was quiet and light in design. The machine reduced effort and was lighter too. Thomas Green, in the year 1859, created the first mower driven by a chain. It was called Silens Messor or Silent Running. His business production ended in the year 1935.
Let us look at the hierarchy of the emergence of the modern lawn mower and when the various lawn mower designs were patented, and by whom.
- 1868 – Amariah Hills of Connecticut – Simple reel mower
- 1870 – Elwood McGuire, who is a Richmond and Indiana native – Push mower which was light and simple
- 1899 – American John Albert Burr – Lawn mower with better traction wheels and rotary blade
- The 1890s – Steam-powered lawn mower
- 1902 – Ransomes – First commercial ride-on lawn mower powered using an internal combusting gas engine. They were the suppliers to stadiums, golf courses, and local authorities.
- 1915 – Ideal Power Lawn Mower Co. of Lansing, Michigan patented by Ransom Eli Olds – US mower that was gas-powered
- 1919 – Colonel Edwin George- Gas-powered lawn mower in the US
- 1922 – Ideal Power Lawn Mower Company – First riding lawn tractor that was self-propelled and was called Triplex
- The 1920s – British Atco (Atlas Chain Company), Charles H Pugh Ltd – Mass-produced lawn mower. The first 900 machines were manufactured in 1921 only, and in five years, the annual production scaled up to tens of thousands. There were now lawn mowers in various sizes and varied price ranges.
History of Rotary Push Mower
Then came the era of lightweight and rotary push mowers that were found in all the garages. Produced by Toto, the mower was easy to use and affordable too. It was in the year 1914 that the Toto Motor Company was founded. It was in the year 1948 that they ventured into Rotary push lawn mowers.
Their lawn mower design was unique, with an enclosed deck. They later became the pioneers in the push mower market.
Briggs Stratton was a company that provided power to military and agricultural equipment. In 1953, they revolutionized the lawnmower industry, developing a lightweight engine made of aluminum.
History of Zero-Turn Mower
In 1955, Max Booth Swisher of Warrensburg, Missouri, manufactured the first zero-turn mower available for commercial use. Called the Ride King, it used a front wheel or the drive wheel, which turned 360 degrees. The wheel was driven with a motor in the same direction. To reverse it or utilize the capabilities of the zero-turn radius, you had to turn the steering to 180 degrees and the mower would automatically move in reverse.
You can also read our detailed guide on How to Drive a Zero Turn Lawn Mower?
In 1963, John Reiger, an employee of the Hesston Corporation, patented the zero-turn radius technology. He had engineered the swather that used belts to cut hay. It was this counter-rotation idea that inspired him to use the technology in a lawn mower. He sold this patent to Hesston that started offering this zero-turn technology.
There are more than 300 models of zero-turn mowers available today.
The Modern Lawn Mowers
In the year 1969 the first self-propelled lawn mower patented by S Lawrence Bellinger under Mowbot, Inc was introduced that featured a remote control automated operation. The machine used a battery to propel forward.
This is the first robotic mower that followed the border. It had special sensors that mowed around the obstacles and even returned to its docking station when it started to rain. This Roomba lawn mower was a super hit.
It took 25 years for the robotic mower to step up. In 1995, Husqvarna launched the solar mower, which was the first fully robotic lawn mower introduced to the world. Solar energy made it possible to support the wheels and cut the grass with ease.
Husqvarna introduced AutoMower, which was the first automatic robotic mower. It allows mowing 24/7, irrespective of the weather outside. The mower also had a rechargeable battery.
Bosch Indego introduced lawn mapping in 2012 that mowed in a systematic rather than in a random manner. Both the models of Husqvarna and Bosch are equipped with voice control and use Google Home or Alexa.
The recent addition to the lawnmower list is a robotic mower called Taodi that works even without a perimeter wire in the lawn. The self-driving robot uses a camera and drives around the yard automatically. It is night vision enabled that lets it function even in the dark. Todi figures out your yard’s look, draws a map, and mows the lawn to avoid any obstacles.
Lawn Mower and its Contribution to Sports
Referred to as the Budding Effect, the invention of the lawn mower helped in the economic growth of the country and opened up many sports and game avenues.
- Lawn bowls or well-cut lawn grass is not just for the rich. Today, even the commoner can own a manicured lawn.
- With the introduction of lawnmowers, football grounds took off. It also paved the way for lawn tennis, cricket, and other sporting venues letting one take advantage of the varied lawn mower mowing patterns.
Yards were mainly used for farming. In recent years, a neatly maintained lawn in the backyard and around the house became a necessity to give the property an aesthetic appeal and increase the resale value of the house. Thanks to the various stages of lawn mower innovation, lawns are now a privilege not just restricted to the aristocrats.
How the Perfect Lawn Became a Symbol of the American Dream
With the rise of suburbia in post-WWII America, the perfect lawn became a potent symbol of the American dream. Whether a sprawling sweep of green mowed in crisp diagonal bands or a more modest swatch of grass and clover, a lawn expressed the national ideal that, with hard work, sacrifice and perhaps a little help from Uncle Sam, home ownership and a patch of land could be within reach for every American.
By contrast, Europe’s historical development of lawns had largely expressed values of elitism and power: Some medieval castle dwellers needed their tall grass hand-cut by scythes in order to see approaching enemies. Landowners with livestock required fields cut down to grazeable heights. And wealthy people with leisure time tamed nature into neatly trimmed surfaces for sporting endeavors like golf, tennis and lawn bowling.
And while early American landowners had appropriated some of those values, by the mid 20th century, the nation had grown its own, less elitist image of the lawn. That evolving history would be shaped by the G.I. Bill, widespread home ownership, egalitarian ideals, technological advancements in mowing, golf courses and the saga of race.
The G.I. Bill and Home Ownership
In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the G.I. Bill, to provide educational and home loan benefits for millions of veterans returning from World War II. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the program backed 2.4 million low-interest home loans for veterans between 1944 and 1952. As homeownership rates rose from 44 percent in 1940 to almost 62 percent in 1960, owning a home became synonymous with the American dream.
A manicured lawn became a physical manifestation of that dream. “A fine lawn makes a frame for a dwelling,” explained Abe Levitt, who together with his two sons built Levittowns, housing communities in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that came to define the cookie-cutter homogeneity of the burgeoning suburbs. “It is the first thing a visitor sees. And first impressions are the lasting ones.”
Frederick Law Olmsted, Father of the American Lawn
Frederick Law Olmsted is best known as the landscape architect of more than two dozen prominent public green spaces—including New York’s Central Park and Chicago’s Washington Park—all known for their rolling meadows. But in 1868, he received a Chicago-area commission to design one of America’s first planned suburban communities. Each house in the Riverside, Illinois development was set 30 feet back from the street. And unlike the homes in England, which were often separated by high walls, Richmond’s yards were open and connected to give the impression of one manicured lawn, evoking the possibility that the lawn was accessible to everyone.
“Even if Olmsted carefully preserved property limits, he seems to have wanted to blur the line between private yards and public spaces,” wrote Georges Teyssot, an architectural historian and author/editor of The American Lawn.
With that blur, wrote New York Times journalist Michael Pollan in 1989, lawns came to unify and define the American landscape: “France has its formal, geometric gardens, England its picturesque parks, and America this unbounded democratic river of manicured lawn along which we array our houses.”
The Rise of Rotary Power Mowers
Olmsted’s idyllic and boundless lawn had to be perfectly manicured. “The lawn is the owner’s principal contribution to the suburban landscape—the piece of the “Park” he keeps up himself,” wrote Robert Fishman, a professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan.
For that job, homeowners needed mowers. In 1830, Englishman Edwin Bear Budding crafted a series of blades around a cylinder to earn the first patent for a mechanical lawn mower. Forty years later, Elwood McGuire, Richmond, Indiana machinist, became the first to design a lightweight push mower. His contraption became the “official mower” of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where men demonstrated its use on a large lawn. According to Mike Emery of Richmond’s daily newspaper, The Palladium-Item, McGuire’s invention helped the Indiana city become the lawn mower capital of the world: “Ten Richmond companies produced two-thirds the world’s reel push mowers, and the city’s innovators and entrepreneurs helped transition to power reel, then power rotary mower.”
In 1935, Leonard Goodall, a Warrensburg, Missouri mechanic, developed a power rotary mower, which made it easier to maintain lawns than the reel-type mowers, which could cut golf greens down to one inch, but had blades that needed constant sharpening. “[Reel mowers] could not cut high grass, which made it difficult for individuals to push them long enough to mow a large yard,” wrote Leonard E. Goodall, the mower pioneer’s son. “The post-World War II suburbanization movement created a great need for a mower that could be used on large lawns.” Goodall’s rotary power mower responded to that need.
The popular power rotary mower drove massive industry growth. According to Virginia Jenkins in The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession, power mower production increased from under 35,000 before World War II to 362,000 in 1947 to nearly 1.2 million in 1951.
As Vivid as Golf Greens
In 1966, when CBS telecast the Masters Golf Tournament in color for the first time, TV viewers could see the perfectly manicured, wall-to-wall vivid green color of the Augusta National Golf Club, whose beautiful Bermuda grass exemplified improvements in turfgrass management. “Virtually everywhere golf courses exhibit magnificent turf, often through 12 months of the year,” Sports Illustrated asserted in 1966, “and having seen what is possible, millions of homeowners feel compelled to go and do likewise.”
For a culture growing obsessed with golf in the 1950s, “the perfect lawn rose to become an icon of the American Dream,” wrote Ted Steinberg, a history professor at Case Western Reserve University and a leading scholar on the American lawn.
WATCH: Full episodes of Assembly Required with Tim Allen and Richard Karn online now.
America’s Dirt Yards
If the beautiful lawn was a shiny emblem of the American Dream, it could also signify the ways in which racism and systemic inequality marked the American landscape. “At a minimum, the fresh new supergreen lawns offered an escape from monochrome life in the cities—a brightly colored consistent landscape that mirrored the aesthetic and racial uniformity of 1950s suburbia,” wrote Steinberg.
In The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, historian Richard Rothstein reveals how racist mortgage lenders, real estate agents and discriminatory federal housing policies limited black homeownership—and how white Americans moved to the suburbs because African Americans could not. For many years in Levittown, where perfect lawns proved vital to the planned community’s value system, real estate agents sold houses only to white home buyers.
But this exclusion didn’t mean that African Americans didn’t embrace or understand the significance of the perfect American lawn. John Lewis, the late congressman and civil rights activist, used to tell a story from his youth about playing in a dirt yard at his Aunt Seneva’s shotgun house in rural Alabama. “She didn’t have a green manicured lawn,” he said in a speech. “She had a simple, plain dirt yard. From time to time, she would go out into the woods and take branches from a dogwood tree. And she would make a broom. And she called this broom the brush broom. And she would sweep this dirty yard very clean, sometimes two and three time a week.”
A giant of the civil rights movement, Lewis clearly understood how the juxtaposition of the dirt yard and the “green manicured lawn” provided a jarring image of race in America.
Biodiversity Redefines the Perfect Lawn
In the 21st century, concern has grown over the use of pesticides and water on American lawns—how they waste precious water and poison the underground water table with chemicals.
According to a 2020 CNN report by Matthew Ponsford, residential lawns make up two percent of U.S. land or 49,000 square miles (roughly equal to the size of Greece), but require more irrigation than any agricultural crop grown in the country. There is a growing trend toward turning lawns into gardens that support biodiversity while reducing the use of water and dangerous chemicals. “If attitudes toward lawn care are shifted,” Ponsford wrote, “these grassy green patches represent a gigantic opportunity.”
Farrell Evans is an award-winning journalist who writes about sports and history.
Meet John Albert Burr: The Great Black American Inventor Who Invented Rotary Lawn Mower
If you have a manual push mower today, there is a good chance that its design borrows components from the rotary blade lawn mower that was created by Black American inventor John Albert Burr in the 19th century.
John Albert Burr received a patent for his new and improved rotary blade lawn mower on May 9, 1899. Burr came up with the idea for a lawn mower that had traction wheels and a rotating blade that was made specifically to avoid becoming clogged up with grass clippings.
In addition, John Albert Burr made it feasible for lawn mowers to go closer to the borders of buildings and walls by improving the design of lawn mowers. You have the ability to examine United States Patent 624,749 that was awarded to John Albert Burr.
Life of John Albert Burr
John Albert Burr, who was born in the state of Maryland in 1848, was a youngster at the time of the American Civil War. His parents were slaves who were eventually set free, and it’s possible that he too was a slave up to the age of emancipation, which occurred when he was 17 years old. However, he did not avoid manual labor entirely because, when he was a teenager, he worked in the fields as a laborer.
However, others took notice of his abilities, and affluent Black activists made it possible for him to enroll in engineering programs at a prestigious private institution. He made a career by repairing and maintaining various machines and farm equipment using the mechanical talents he had acquired over the years. He relocated to Chicago and started working in the steel industry there. In 1898, when he submitted his application for a patent on the rotary mower, he was a resident of Agawam, Massachusetts.
The Rotary Lawn Mower
“The object of my invention is to provide a casing which wholly encloses the operating gearing so as to prevent it from becoming choked by the grass or clogged by obstructions of any kind,” reads the patent application.
The design of John Albert Burr’s rotational lawn mower helps alleviate the annoying jams of clippings that are the scourge of manual lawn mowers. It was also more maneuverable, and it could be used to go closer to objects like buildings and posts so that it could clip them more precisely. His invention graphic clearly illustrates a concept that is still used for manual rotary mowers today and is fairly common.
There were still several years before powered lawnmowers became available for residential usage. A lot of people are going back to using manual rotary mowers like the one that Burr designed since the lawns in many modern communities are getting smaller.
Burr never stopped looking for ways to enhance his invention and patent it. In addition to this, he invented machines that could shred, sieve, and spread the grass clippings. It’s possible that his legacy will live on in the form of today’s mulching power mowers, which return nutrients to the lawn rather than bagging them for compost or disposal.
His innovations not only reduced the amount of work needed, but they were also beneficial to the grass. He was awarded more than 30 patents in the United States for lawn care and agricultural innovations.
John Albert Burr Later Life
Burr was able to bask in the glory of his achievements. He obtained royalties for his innovations, which is in contrast to the situation of many other innovators, who either never see their concepts commercialized or quickly lose any benefits they may have had. He loved giving lectures and going on trips. He had a long and healthy life, passing away in 1926 from influenza at the age of 78.
When Was the Lawn Mower Invented? A Comprehensive Look at the History Behind this Pioneering Invention
From small residential yards to expansive golf courses, lawn mowers are an essential tool for keeping grass in check. But when was the lawn mower invented? This article delves into the history of the lawn mower, exploring when it was first invented and how it has evolved since then.
Exploring the History of the Lawn Mower: When Was the First Lawn Mower Invented?
The first patent for a lawn mower was issued in 1830, but the concept of a lawn mower had been around long before that. Horse-drawn lawn mowers were used in the 18th century to keep large areas of grass trimmed. These early models of lawn mowers were large and cumbersome, requiring two horses to pull them. The blades were made of iron and were often sharpened with a file.
In the 19th century, the first gasoline-powered lawn mower was developed. This model was much lighter than its horse-drawn predecessor and could be operated by one person. However, these early gasoline-powered lawn mowers were loud, inefficient, and unreliable. As such, they were not widely adopted until the 20th century.
How One Invention Changed the Way We Care for Our Lawns: Uncovering the Story of the Lawn Mower
By the mid-20th century, lawn mowers had become increasingly popular. This was due in part to the development of more reliable and efficient gasoline-powered models. Lawn mowers allowed homeowners to easily care for their lawns without having to hire professional gardeners. Furthermore, the introduction of motorized mowers made it possible to mow large areas of grass quickly and efficiently.
Lawn mowers offer many benefits, such as reducing the amount of time and effort required to maintain a lawn. They also help to keep grass healthy and looking its best. Additionally, using a lawn mower can help reduce the amount of water needed to keep grass green, as well as reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
From Horse-Drawn to Electric: Discovering When the Lawn Mower was Invented
The invention of the electric lawn mower in the 1950s revolutionized the industry. These mowers were quieter, easier to use, and more efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Today, there are many different types of lawn mowers available, ranging from manual push mowers to robotic mowers that can be controlled via smartphone.
Electric lawn mowers are becoming increasingly popular due to their efficiency and convenience. They are also much more environmentally friendly than gasoline-powered mowers, as they do not produce emissions or require the use of fuel.
The Pioneering Mind Behind the Invention of the Lawn Mower
The invention of the lawn mower is credited to Edward Budding, who filed the first patent for his device in 1830. Budding’s invention was inspired by a machine used to cut the cloth in textile factories. He modified this machine to create a device that could cut grass more efficiently than traditional scythes.
Budding’s invention changed the way we care for our lawns. His invention made it possible to mow large areas of grass quickly and efficiently, which revolutionized the gardening industry. Today, Budding’s invention is still used in many homes and businesses around the world.
A Look at the Evolution of the Lawn Mower: When Was it First Invented?
Early models of lawn mowers were large and cumbersome. They were powered by horses or steam engines and were often difficult to maneuver. Over time, these models were improved upon and eventually replaced by gasoline-powered mowers. Gasoline-powered mowers were lighter and easier to use, making them much more popular than their predecessors.
As technology advanced, so did the lawn mower. The invention of the electric lawn mower in the 1950s made it easier than ever to care for a lawn. Today, there are many different types of lawn mowers available, ranging from manual push mowers to robotic mowers that can be controlled via smartphone.
Tracing the Beginnings of the Lawn Mower: When Was it Invented?
The first patent for a lawn mower was issued in England in 1830 to Edward Budding. Since then, lawn mowers have come a long way. Here is a timeline of some of the major milestones in the evolution of the lawn mower:
- 1830 – Edward Budding patents the first lawn mower in England.
- 1865 – The first gasoline-powered lawn mower is developed.
- 1900 – The first reel mower is introduced.
- 1930 – The first rotary mower is patented.
- 1950 – The first electric lawn mower is introduced.
- 1980s – Riding mowers become popular.
- Today – Robotic mowers are now available.
Answering the Question ‘When Was the Lawn Mower Invented’?
The lawn mower was first invented in 1830 by Edward Budding. Since then, it has undergone a remarkable transformation, from a horse-drawn machine to a lightweight electric model. Today, there are many different types of lawn mowers available, ranging from manual push mowers to robotic mowers.
The invention of the lawn mower has revolutionized the way we care for our lawns. It has made it easier than ever to maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn, saving us both time and effort. As technology advances, so does the lawn mower, allowing us to continue to enjoy the benefits of this pioneering invention.
The invention of the lawn mower has revolutionized the way we care for our lawns. From its humble beginnings in the 19th century to the modern-day robot mower, this pioneering invention has helped make lawn maintenance easier and more efficient. So next time you’re out mowing your lawn, remember the story of the lawn mower and its inventor, Edward Budding.
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By Happy Sharer
Hi, I’m Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.