The history of lawn maintenance is almost as long as the history of man. That’s because man has tried, for most of our existence, to cultivate nature, rather than just using it up. While the first horticulture was practiced on plants that provided food, it didn’t take long to expand to the nuirture of plants simply for the beauty of them.
It is estimated that the first horticulturists lived in prehistoric times. These peoples lived in rainforests, and apparently cultivated the trees, shrubs, and vines that would provide the most useful produce. These plants provided fibers for weaving and food for survival. The native people would cut out species of plants that were detrimental to their lives and the plants that supported them, and cultivate the desirable species. Thus, the first horticulture was created for survival.
With the Dawn of Civilization, people began to cultivate plants for aesthetic reasons. There are paintings in Egyptian tombs dating back to 1500 BC that show beautiful gardens and landscaping. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were once one of the 7 Wonders of the World. These gardens contained beautiful ornamental trees, ponds, and flowering bushes. The ancient Egyptians were known for developing rose bushes, irises, daises, the date palm, fir trees, and poppies.
The ancient Assyrians developed the first game preserves, incorporating beautiful landscaping along with wildlife. This may be the first record of cultivated grasses, as the Assyrians would provide grazing land for different species of deer.
The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, the emphasis turned to the cultivation of medicinal herbs, kitchen gardens, and vinyards. Once again, private plots of grass were cultivated for the sake of grazing of livestock and wildlife. The landowners would plant hedges around the fields to keep the livestock in place.
It was during this time that those in charge of cultivating lawns and fields learned the value of aeration of the soil. The traffic from herds of livestock and wildlife did more damage than the actual grazing, and the first “lawn care specialists” were born. They developed horse-drawn aerator cylinders to loosen the soil. This would help the soil hold onto rain water and encourage the spread of roots from the various grasses. In addition, there was a court in the center of most gardens that had a plot of grass.
Around the same time, Persians were building gardens with a foursquare pattern with 4 waterways dividing it. These gardens were circled by walls, and the center would either have a pavilion for gatherings, or a pool. These gardens featured Islamic mosaics and
It wasn’t until the end of the 1200s that lawns were valued for their own existence. In Europe, people would plant stretches of lawn framed by fruit trees and rose trellises.
Since the 1200s, lawns have been valued by property owners, and lawn maintenance has had a significant role in horticulture. Proper lawncare has added oxygen to the air, and purified the water for hundreds of years.