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Lawn Mowing: An American Pastime

by Kelly Richardson, All About Lawns Columnist

From spring to the late fall, millions of Americans participate in a weekly ritual--lawn mowing. The lawn mower has become entrenched into Americana--it is as familiar as apple pie and baseball. However, this slice of American life is actually not American at all.

It was invented in England.

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Lawn Mowing: An English Pastime?
The lawn mower, in its current form, has a history that traces back to the early 1800s. In 1830, Englishman Edwin Budding invented the first reel mower--similar to the mowers you see today. By the mid 1900s, the lawn mower was gaining in popularity. According to Ted Steinberg, a history professor at Case Western Reserve University, 1.2 million lawn mowers were sold in 1958.

Fifty years later, the lawn mower's humble beginnings are a thing of the past. Nearly 6 million gas-powered lawn mowers were on the market last year.

Lawn Mowers: Gas or Man-Powered?
Since World War II, the gas-powered, walk-behind lawn mower has been a staple in garages across the country. However, the manual lawn mower is making a quiet comeback. In the 1980s, about 50,000 manual lawn mowers were sold each year in the U.S. Today's eco-friendly culture has lead to the rebirth of the lawn mower. In 2006, homeowners purchased an estimated 350,000 manual lawn mowers.

Lawn Mowing: Keeping a Green Lawn
Whether you prefer a gas-powered or manual lawn mower, proper mowing can keep your lawn looking great all year round. Keep the following in mind when participating in that great American ritual:

  1. Keep the blades sharp. Dull blades can wreak havoc on your lawn
  2. Cut the top. Try not to cut your grass too short--you should only remove the top third of the grass blades each time you mow
  3. Rake, rake, rake. Everyone hates to rake, but raking can clear debris and other materials that block sunlight
  4. Water on a regular basis. In addition to a regular mowing schedule, be sure to water your lawn regularly to promote healthy growth

Next time you get ready to mow, take time to thank Mr. Budding for his wonderful invention--your lawns are better off for it.

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About the Author
Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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