The History of Grass in the United States

If you were to take a drive around your neighborhood on a typical Saturday morning, chances are, you will probably see a few people mowing their yard.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  Have you ever taken a moment to consider how the tradition of mowing your yard came about?  Here is a brief history of grass in the United States.

In the late 18th century, during the European Colonization in the United States, colonists began to notice that the grass in the United States was inferior to the grass in Europe.  Grass in the States had a tendency to die quicker, and contain far less nutrients, which were necessary for their livestock.  Because of this, new colonists were urged to bring grass seed over from Europe.

The First Reel Mower

In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana introduced the first reel mower to the United States, making it possible to manufacture reel lawn mowers to the masses.  These types of mowers were essentially a series of blades arranged around a cylinder, with a push handle attached.

In 1915, the United States Department of Agriculture began working with the United States Golf Association to find the perfect type of grass that would be best for America’s climate.

Shortly after, in 1919, Colonel Edwin George manufactured the first gasoline powered lawn mower in the United States.  Despite the rising popularity of lawn mowers and lawn mower technology in the United States, maintaining a well-kept lawn was still considered an impractical, time-consuming task reserved for the upper class.  Up until the 1940s, having a nice lawn was viewed as a status symbol, rather than a standard.  Although the United States were manufacturing many lawn mowers, golf courses, country clubs & public venues were the only people mowing their lawn on a regular basis.  Lawnmowers didn’t achieve widespread success with homeowners until much later.

World War II

In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt passed legislation to make a 40 hour work-week the standard in the United States.  Prior to this law, it was common for blue collar workers to work 6 days per week, with a half day on Saturday.  With the extra day off, homeowners found they had more time to work on maintaining their yards.  Around this time, having a well-kept yard became increasingly popular.

As the United States moved from the Great Depression into World War II, a grass seed shortage in Europe, along with financial hardships made it hard to maintain the new standard.

Soon, in 1941, America entered the Second World War, leaving women behind to take care of the yard work.  During the war, women were encouraged to maintain their yard as a symbol of strength and high morale.

The New Standard in the United States

Finally, in 1945, the war had ended.  It was around this time that gas powered lawn mowers finally achieved national success.  The United States had won the war, the economy was back in full swing, and soldiers came back from war, ready to resume their yard work.  Shortly after, men realized the importance of keeping a healthy, beautiful lawn.  Gas powered lawn mowers soon became the new standard, and there is no sign of slowing down anytime soon!

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