Formal lawns covered with short and
tended to grass first appeared in France around the 1700s, and the idea
soon spread to England and the rest of the world. Lawns were first kept
clean and tidy by having animals graze on the grass, or scythe, sickle,
or shears were used to hand cut the grass lawns.
The first patent for a mechanical
lawn mower described as a "Machine for mowing lawns, etc." was granted
on August 31, 1830 to engineer, Edwin Beard Budding (1795-1846) from Stroud,
Budding's design was based on a cutting
tool used for the uniform trimming of carpet. It was reel-type mower that
had a series of blades arranged around a cylinder. John Ferrabee owner
of Phoenix Foundry at Thrupp Mill, Stroud, first produced the Budding lawn
mowers. The first unpatented lawn mower was probaly built by Scotsmen,
Alexander Shanks in 1841 - a 27 inch pony drawn reel lawn mower.
The first United States patent for
a reel lawn mower was granted to Amariah Hills on January 12, 1868. Early
lawn mowers were often designed to be horse
drawn, the horses often wore oversize leather booties to prevent lawn
damage. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a very popular
human pushed lawn mower, not the first to be human pushed, however, McGuire's
design was very lightweight and a commercial success.
Steam powered lawn mowers appeared
in the 1890's. In 1902, Ransomes produced the first commercially available
mower powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine. In the United
States, gasoline powered lawn mowers were first manufactured in 1919 by
Colonel Edwin George.
On May 9, 1899, John
Albert Burr patented an improved rotary blade lawn mower.
Joseph Smith patented the swiveling
lawn sprinkler on May 4, 1897.
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Photo Image courtesy of Jacci Howard