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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

History of Lawns

Lawns became popular with the aristocracy in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward. The early lawns were not always distinguishable from pasture fields. It is speculated the association between the word 'pasture' and biblical mentions made a cultural affinity for some. The damp climate of maritime Western Europe in the north made lawns possible to grow and manage. They were not a part of gardens in other regions and cultures of the world until contemporary influence.
Before the invention of mowing machines in 1830, lawns were managed very differently. Lawns were an element of wealthy estates and manor houses and in some places were maintained by the labour-intensive methods of scything and shearing. In most situations they were also pasture land maintained through grazing by sheep or other livestock. Areas of grass grazed regularly by rabbits, horses or sheep over a long period often form a very low, tight sward similar to a modern lawn. This was the original meaning of the word "lawn", and the term can still be found in place-names. Some forest areas where extensive grazing is practiced still have these semi-natural lawns. For example, in the New Forest, England, such grazed areas are common and are known as lawns, for example Balmer Lawn.

A striped lawn effect, from mowing in alternating directions.It was not until the Tudor and Elizabethan times that the garden and the lawn became a place created first as walkways and social areas. They were made up of meadow plants, such as camomile, a particular favourite. In the early 17th century the Jacobean epoch of gardening began. It was during this period that the closely-cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was a symbol of status of the aristocracy and gentry.
In the early 18th century landscape gardening entered another design style. William Kent and Lancelot "Capability Brown" brought the Landscape garden style into popularity. Lawns appeared to flow from the garden into the outer reaches of the estate landscape. The open "English style" of parkland first spread across Britain and Ireland, and then across Europe, such as the Garden à la française being replaced by the French landscape garden
In the United States it was not until after the Civil War in the 1870s that lawns began to appear beyond affluent properties and city parks. Most had neither the hired labor or leisure time to cut a field of grass with scythes, and most raised vegetables and flowers. During the Victorian era, as more plants were introduced and available horticulturally in Europe, lawns became smaller as flower beds were created and filled with perennials, sculptures, and water features. At the end of the 19th century suburban development with land around residences began, and along with sprinkler technology, improved and mass produced lawn mowers, new expectations about gardens, and a shorter working weeks; lawns came of age in the U.S. and northern Europe. Through the 20th century Western landscape influence brought the lawn to many parts of the world.

So a little boring but just a little history... let me know what you think...thanks for reading..


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  3. Hi Patrick, That's a very thorough write up on Lawn history -- I enjoyed it. Keep updating this blog and I'll keep on returning ;)