American Lawn History and The Lawn Bible

The Lawn

Why do Americans have lawns? They inherited them from English traditions. The when and where of the first American lawns could perhaps be said to predate colonization with the grazing of buffalo on the prairie, but the concept of a lawn as an extension of the garden was born in Medieval European times, perhaps as a religious expression, simulating Christ, a sheep herder.

Not much more than a meadow in the garden of a castle, of wild flowers and herbs, growing closely together, or wild grass constantly grazed by animals and livestock such as sheep, became similar to what we know today as lawns, all over Maritime Europe.

It was with the end of the war of the roses and the rise of the Tudor Dynasty, that the English lawn became a place to be loved and admired.

English Renaissance Queen, Elizabeth I, or the Virgin Queen was fond of her own gardens, which displayed large portions of well-scythed and manually labored lawns.

Upon settling Virginia, great expenses were made by the British landowners to keep their own New English lawns on par with their native England; an exclusive gardening aspect of only wealthy estates.

Virginia survived due to the plantation of tobacco, which became a habit in England during the rule of King James, allowing these original American lawns to flourish in a very closely cut fashion, much like those of the Jacobean gardening era.

A symbol of status and power, the Jacobean style of gardening with closely cut and manually kept lawns became the envy of European gentry and set the stage for what would later evolve into our own American obsession.

The innovative English architect, William Kent from Yorkshire, created a style of landscape gardening that had never before been seen, by combining his love for the Palladian style with natural gardening techniques he created the English Landscape Garden design which seemed to flow out from the garden and into the landscape.

The most renown English Landscape Gardener was Lancelot Brown Capability Brown (Kents most accomplished protégé), who designed over 170 different parks, many of which can still be enjoyed today and are the keystone to understanding what direction American lawns took during the first half of the 19th century.

While in France and Italy, the lawn had become smaller and smaller, taking up less and less space in the garden, the American lawn continued to expand in the fashion of William Kent until the civil war, with American landowners becoming ever more arrogant in their own aristocratic games of pomp and exploit, using their expansive lawns as status symbols that in many cases rivaled their English counterparts.

The civil war was very hard on American English Landscape Gardening, and in most cases, completely wiped out whatever remnants of the old aristocracy had remained. A decent exception is the White House lawn, which is a nice example of what these pre-civil war lawns looked like.

Rabbits, horses, sheep and other livestock would graze in the forests of Medieval England to form tight swards, much like our modern lawn today, but the American climate proved unsuitable for English grass seed, and remained a gardening fashion economically restricted to the wealthy, slave and plantation owners until the 1870s when the mass production of push-mowers (an idea that had been around since as early as 1830) finally became available to the pubic at large.

The Lawn Bible

The Lawn Bible: How to Keep It Green, Groomed, and Growing Every Season of the Year will teach you how to keep the greenest lawn in your neighborhood for the region of the country you live in.

Written by the groundskeeper at Bostons Fenway Park, David Mellor, a man who has been through it all and knows the ropes, he explains not only how to keep a lawn green but more importantly when to do what.

Be it fertilizer, weed killer, mowing, sod, aeration, watering, planting, weeding, feeding or troubleshooting, The Lawn Bible comes with anecdotes, illustrations and tips for even the most varied lawn conditions.

Full shade, full sun or just in between; keeping your grass green and healthy is just a matter of thinking like a lawn.

Winning the war on disease, pests and weeds, the mechanics and artistry of mowing, the perfect combinations of good sun, good seed, good soil and teaching children to be yard friendly will all make your lawn both the most beautiful in the neighborhood as well as the most child friendly around, and Lawn Bible shows how!

This 288 page paperback was first published in April of 2003 by Hyperion Books, measures 10.8 x 8.4 x 0.7 and ships at 1.3 lbs.

Scientific information, tips and general guidelines, no matter where you live in the USA, The Lawn Bible: How to Keep It Green, Groomed, and Growing Every Season of the Year will help you find a solution to your situation, and teach you how to become the lawn master of your own estate in a fun and catchy language that allows you to get the right idea the first time around.

The Lawn Bible shows how to keep any lawn, in any condition, the greenest in the neighborhood, all year round.