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  • High Class Grass: History of the Lawn

    by User Not Found | Mar 20, 2015

    The introduction of the lawnmower into everyday life changed household gardens dramatically, as it enabled people to easily maintain a lawn in their own garden. Before the lawnmower, sheep and livestock were often used to keep grass levels down. This was even the case for Central Park in New York City: as writer Bill Bryson states, “Until the end of the nineteenth century it was home to a roaming flock of 200 sheep superintended by a shepherd.” 

    However, in 19th-century England, once the lawnmower became a household tool, having a well -manicured lawn became possible, and also eventually became a symbol of one’s class and social status. As Bryson states:

    “By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the lawnmower was comfortably established as a part of gardening life. On even the most modest properties, a good, well-cut lawn became the ideal. For one thing, it was a way of announcing to the world that the householder was prosperous enough that he didn’t need to use the space to grow vegetables for his dinner table.”

    The logic behind the lawn as a signifier of prosperity is no longer true for residential properties. With backyard farming becoming more and more viable – and, many would argue, more ethical – a generous residential lawn could be seen as an “unused” space where edible fruits, vegetables, herbs and productive plants and flowers could be grown instead. By reclaiming this unused space, ordinary people not only have the potential to increase their own self-sufficiency, but can also provide food and habitat for wildlife.

    The reasoning behind having a lawn on a residential property has clearly changed from when it was originally introduced into the overall design of a home. Whilst it may no longer act as an indicator of prosperity for residential homes, it can still explain the design behind many “typical” Australian gardens, with their dominant features often being a spread of lawn that is sparingly planted with trees or shrubs.

    However, one could argue that we can still identify the lawn as a symbol of prosperity if we look to larger historical properties, heritage-listed gardens, municipal parks and open spaces. A magnificent and expansive manicured lawn certainly does conjure up notions of wealth, recreation, luxury and leisure.

    One of Citywide’s turf specialists and expert on the matter, Andrew Lefebvre, reveals some of the benefits of a well-manicured lawn in an open space:

    “It encourages people to engage in exercise, sporting and social activities. It’s a very beneficial feature to any public open space. These spaces help people to connect with nature and with communities.”

    Citywide provides grass maintenance services for many world-class historical gardens, open spaces and sportsfields, including:

    The lawnmower has evolved quite a lot since its introduction 180 odd years ago. Today, Citywide uses innovative mowing technology such as the Spider mower (a remote controlled slope mower), and long reach mowers. We also conduct roadside mowing at night, which reduces risks for workers and road users and minimises disruptions to traffic, and we incorporate vegetation management techniques to decrease lawn maintenance requirements.

    Parks - Citywide