From the lowly and bulky manual contraption with rotating blades that cut grass to a high tech all-around garden device, the lawn mower has indeed gone a long, long way.
The first lawn mower was invented in 1827 by an English engineer named Edwin Beard Budding .
He was able to conceptualize the device while visiting a textile factory and observed a machine cutting nap from fabric and thought it could be adapted to cut grass.
Budding got to the drawing board and came up with the first and standard design of what is nowadays the most common of rotary mowers.
Its basic framework resembled a bulky push cart with a set of wheels and rotary blades that are activated by a dragging motion on expansive grass-covered grounds and wide gardens.
The invention gained popularity as an alternative to the scythe and has proven to reduce manual grass-cutting hours and human labor.
Budding’s mower was designed primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and expensive gardens as a superior alternative to the scythe.
The patent Budding registered for his invention on October 25, 1830 described it as “a new combination and application of machinery for the purpose of cropping or shearing the vegetable surfaces of lawns, grass-plants and pleasure grounds.”
It also added that “country gentlemen may find in using my machine themselves an amusing, useful and healthy exercise.”
It took another ten years and many innovations to create a machine that was worked on by a donkey or horse, and another sixty years before a steam-powered lawn mower was built.
In an agreement between businessman John Ferrabee and Budding on May 18, 1830, Ferrabee was responsible for footing the costs of development, obtained letters of patent and acquired rights to manufacture, sell and license other manufacturers in the production of lawn mowers.
An original copy of the agreement is kept in the Stroud Museum up until this day.
One of the first popular use of the Budding and Ferrabee machines was in 1831 at the Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in London.
The first large scale production of lawn mowers began in the early 1860s and by 1862, Farrabee’s manufacturing company was making eight models in various roller sizes up to 36 inches (900 mm).
Over five thousand machines have been manufactured until production stopped in 1863.
Another inventor Thomas Green produced the first chain driven mower in 1859, named the Silens Messor and in 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a human-pushed lawn mower, which was very lightweight and instantly became a commercial success.
An improved cylindrical mower was patented on May 9, 1899 in the United States Patent Office with US Patent 624,749, where the wheel placement was altered for better performance and easy use.
The introduction of sleek designed and better improved lawn mowers gave rise to the popularity of outdoor sports such as croquet, lawn tennis, cricket, football and rugby, which made extensive use of the lawn mowers to maintain these grass covered courts with ease.
From its simple origins of a concept derived from a device used in textiles, the lawn mower has indeed become a revolutionary solution to well-manicured lawns showcasing beautifully landscaped lawns and gardens and the lawn mower has gone a long way to becoming a vital component to the average American household.