Where does our love of an English lawn come from? Our obsession may have ancient roots, journeying along our evolutionary line from our hunting ancestors who stalked prey across the grasslands of Africa.
From Castles and Commons
The more recent history of lawn evolution is easier to pin down. In Medieval times, the grasslands around castles were cleared of trees and kept short. Approaching hoards (welcome or otherwise) could clearly be spotted. And common land would be found in most settlements, a place where people could graze cows, horses and sheep. The grazing animals would of course keep the grass short…and fertilised.
From as early as the 12th century, there is evidence of turf being maintained for bowls and cricket. These maintained grasses are considered to be the forerunner of golf courses and tennis courts.
A Grass Roots Renaissance
Lawns become fashionable among wealthy classes in England and across the Channel in France during the Renaissance. Grass seeds were sown with thyme or chamomile, which would have smelt rather lovely we think. Eventually, grasses won out over the herbs. In the 17th century, a low cut lawn became a status symbol. Keeping large swathes of turf trimmed required a lot of man-power. This meant only wealthy landowners who could afford it.
Vast lawns were central to the great parklands of the late 17th and early 18th century, and were inspired by the gardens of Versailles. But the lawns were often ornamented with hedges and architectural features. Capability Brown chose to simplify these lavish gardens and used sweeping lawns to create an open more natural landscape.
Eventually, people emigrated from England to North America, taking the grassland fashion over the Atlantic. In fact turf is arguably America’s top crop. 40 million acres of land in the continental US has some form of lawn on it. That’s three times more than corn. It’s a big trade!
The invention of the lawnmower made lawn maintenance easier and cheaper. Lawns became more common and a key part of every Englishman’s castle, however small.
We’ve been turf suppliers for modern parklands, historic homes, and back gardens. If you’re a landscaper on the hunt for quality, durable turf supplies, contact us for advice and information about what we offer.