Monday, March 11, 2013

A Short History of Riding Motors and Mowers

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We have a very small lawn and consequently a very small lawn mower to match it. At first, we had a rotary one - the kind you have to push, which is great exercise but not ideal in the height of summer. I grew up in an apartment in the middle of New York City, so this was all new to me.

Now we have an electric, fairly middle-of-the-road lawn mower; the larger, zero turn riding motors will have to wait until we move to a bigger place with more land.

I have been doing a bit of research into the early history of the lawn mower, since the weather is getting warmer and soon we will have to start to think about cutting the grass once again. I am always amazed at the history behind everyday things, that seem as if they'd always been ordinary conveniences.

Lawns have been created by people since the Middle Ages, when they were simply enclosed pieces of common land where the people in a town or village grazed their sheep. The sheep, of course, were the lawn mowers. The word lawn itself probably comes from an early Celtic word, "llan," which meant "enclosure." As time went on, lawns (which were cropped by sheep or cut with scythes) were a symbol of wealth. You had to have enough money to be able to spare land from growing crops. In England, lawns were also used as fields for playing sports, and, later still, in the 18th century, in the creation of public parks. Lawns became popular in the United States during the Victorian period, though Thomas Jefferson and others had tried their hands at creating lawns much earlier.

The first lawn mowing machine would not be invented until the early 19th century. Edwin Beard Budding, an English engineer, received a patent for his cylinder-based lawn mower (inspired by the trimming machines in cloth mills) in 1830. The early cast iron models were heavy and clumsy to use, and many innovations and improvements were made upon Budding's initial design. By the middle of the century, lawn mowers were being produced by several companies. The first engine driven machines appeared in the early 1900s; and in 1921, Atco produced the very first motor mower. And now, of course, there are a huge range of rotary and power motors which can either be pushed or ridden on, which is good news for all of us who have lawns.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored, but all of the views and points are my own.

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