Before the invention of mowing machines in 1830, lawns were managed very differently. They were an element of wealthy estates and manor houses, and in some places were maintained by the labor-intensive methods of scything and shearing. In most situations, they were also pasture land maintained through grazing by sheep or other livestock. Areas of grass grazed regularly by rabbits, horses or sheep over a long period often form a very low, tight sward similar to a modern lawn. This was the original meaning of the word "lawn", and the term can still be found in place names. Some forest areas where extensive grazing is practiced still have these seminatural lawns. For example, in the New Forest, England, such grazed areas are common, and are known as lawns, for example Balmer Lawn.
It was not until the Tudor and Elizabethan times that the garden and the lawn became a place created first as walkways and social areas. They were made up of meadow plants, such as camomile, a particular favorite. In the early 17th century, the Jacobean epoch of gardening began; during this period, the closely-cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was a symbol of status of the aristocracy and gentry. In the early 18th century, landscape gardening entered another design style. William Kent and Lancelot "Capability" Brown brought the landscape garden style into popularity. Lawns appeared to flow from the garden into the outer reaches of the estate landscape. The open "English style" of parkland first spread across Britain and Ireland, and then across Europe, such as the Garden à la française being replaced by the French landscape garden.
After the U.S. Civil War, in the 1870s, lawns began to appear beyond affluent properties and city parks. Most people had neither the hired labor nor leisure time to cut a field of grass with scythes, and most raised vegetables and flowers. During the Victorian era, as more plants were introduced and available horticulturally in Europe, lawns became smaller, as flower beds were created and filled with perennials, sculptures, and water features. At the end of the 19th century, suburban development with land around residences began. With sprinkler technology, improved and mass-produced lawn mowers, new expectations about gardens, and a shorter working weeks, lawns came of age in the U.S. and northern Europe. Through the 20th century, western landscape influence brought the lawn to many parts of the world.
Thousands of varieties of grasses and grasslike plants are used for lawns, each adapted to specific conditions of precipitation and irrigation, seasonal temperatures, and sun/shade tolerances. Plant hybridizers and botanists are constantly creating and finding improved varieties of the basic species and new ones, often more economical and environmentally sustainable by needing less water, fertilizer, pest and disease treatments, and maintenance. The two basic categories are cool season grasses and warm season grasses.
Many different species of grass are used, depending on the intended use and the climate. Coarse grasses are used where active sports are played, and finer grasses are used for ornamental lawns for their visual effects. Some grasses are adapted to oceanic climates with cooler summers, and others to tropical and continental climates with hotter summers. Often, a mix of grass or low plant types is used to form a stronger lawn when one type does better in the warmer seasons and the other in the colder ones.
Cool season grasses
Cool season grasses start growth at 5 °C (41 °F), and grow at their fastest rate when temperatures are between 10 °C (50 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F), in climates that have relatively mild/cool summers, with two periods of rapid growth in the spring and autumn. They retain their color well in extreme cold and typically grow very dense, carpetlike lawns with relatively little thatch. Conventional selections:
- Bluegrass (Poa spp.)
- Bentgrass (Agrostis spp.)
- Ryegrasses (Lolium spp.)
- Fescues (Festuca spp., hybrids, and cultivars)
- Native plant regional selections (for taller lawns):
- Red fescues (Festuca rubra)
- Feather reed grass (Calamogrostis spp.)
- Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia spp.)
- Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.)
- Bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.)
- St. Augustine grass
- Bahiagrass (Paspalum)
- Centipedegrass (Eremachloa)
- Carpetgrass (Axonopus)
- Buffalograss (drought tolerant)
- Grama grass
Early autumn, spring, and early summer are the primary seasons to seed, lay sod, plant 'liners', or 'sprig' new lawns, when the soil is warmer and air cooler. Seeding is the least expensive, but takes longer for the lawn to establish; deeper rooting, though, can make for a more durable lawn. Sodding provides an almost 'instant lawn', and can be planted in most temperate climates in any season, but is more expensive and more vulnerable to drought. Hydroseeding is a quick, less expensive method of planting large, sloped or hillside landscapes. Some grasses and sedges are available and planted from 'liner' and 4 inch containers, from 'flats', 'plugs' or 'sprigs', and are planted apart to grow together.
Improtant Elements to consider to properly care for your lawn or of course you could just let the experts at Cut Above take care of all your lawn care needs:
- Mowing regularly with a sharp blade at an even height
- Not mowing when the lawn is wet
- Removing no more than 30% to 40% of the plant tissue
- Alternating the direction of cut from the previous mowing
- Scarifying and raking, to remove dead grass and prevent tufting
- Rolling, (to encourage tillering (branching of grass plants) and to level the ground)
- Aeration to relieve compaction of the soil