Submitted by Brian Roulston
Formal lawns first began appearing in France during the 1700’s and up until the 1830’s only the wealthy could afford large beautifully cut and manicured lawns. These lawns were maintained by a multitude of sheep, goats, cows, horses and other four-legged lawnmowers. If you didn’t like the little messes they left behind your other choice were gangs of men using a long curved blade fastened at an angle to a long handle called scythes.
A British mechanic by the name of Edward Beard from Stroud, England changed all that with his invention of the ‘Reel Lawnmower’ in 1827.It was 19′ wide(480mm) based on a tool he saw that was used to uniformly cut carpets. It comprised of a series of blades around a cylinder placed at the front which was pushed from behind. The next mower was one that was chain driven and invented by Thomas Green in 1859; he called it the Silens Messor which means ‘Silent Cutter’.
The first motorized lawnmowers appeared around the 1890’s powered by steam. They took several hours to warm up to operating pressure, eventually kerosene and gas engines came along in 1900.
JP Engineering of Leicester, and Ransomes’ Automaton both created chain-driven mowers of their own after World War I. They were towed behind horses and the operator would ride on top of the machines, these could be considered the first riding lawnmowers. Incidentally, special boots were made for the horses to keep them from marking the grass with their hoofs.
During the 1920’s and 30’s many people experimented with spinning blades similar to an aircraft propeller with sharp edges fixed horizontally called rotary mowers. It wasn’t successfully produced until 1952 when an Australian Company Victa Mowers Pty Ltd produced them. Toro introduced the first push motorized lawnmower aimed for home use in 1938 called appropriately enough ‘Home Lawn’. Briggs & Stratton one of the largest suppliers of gas engines to the lawnmower industry today revolutionized the home lawn and garden industry by building the first dedicated lightweight aluminum gas engines for lawnmowers back in 1953.In recent years Briggs & Stratton have gone green with the use of 98% recycled aluminum.
Today according the 2016 IBIS World Marketing Report the U.S leads the world in the Lawn and Garden industry, then Australia and the UK. Canada’s lawn and garden industry is worth $10 Billion annually employing 17,000 people.
Even Finland’s post office POSTI is trying to cash in on the lawn care industry, like many postal services around the world it has suffered from declining revenues because of email and text messaging. In 2016 POSTI introduced lawn cutting services done by postal delivery workers. Customers sign up online and must provide their own mower. Guess what…it’s even tax deductible in Finland.