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American Garden Magazines Have Long Encourged the Lawn

Garden magazines play an important role in learning about gardening. Unfortunately, if you look at the history of American gardening, it is difficult to pinpoint the number of such journals.

Cornell University Professor of Horticulture L. H. Bailey wrote in 1900 in his three-volume reference book called The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, “It is probably no exaggeration to say that more than 500 horticultural journals have been started in North America. There are more than sixty in continuance at the present moment.”

The nineteenth century garden magazines included advertising for plants, seeds, and, of course, whatever the lawn demanded.

Notice here [below] an ad from an 1888 issue of American Agriculturist, a periodical that covered agriculture, but also devoted several pages to gardening. The products in the ad from the seed firm Peter Henderson and Company, located in New York,  included whatever a homeowner needed for the lawn: grass seed to get that perfect look, a roller to make sure the surface of the soil was flat, fertilizer to feed the new grass, and even a lawn mower.

The ad also featured an illustration of the lawn outside a suburban home.  Whether a property was one acre or one hundred acres, the lawn played an important role in the landscape.

Henderson Seeed Company ad in 1888
Henderson Seed Company ad in 1888

In the ad Henderson also offered the reader his pamphlet called “Everything for the Lawn” in which he provided instructions on installing and maintaining a lawn.

He made the statement at the top of the ad “Everything for the Lawn” to  ensure that the reader knew that his company would supply anything needed for that perfect lawn.

Thus garden publications sold not only products but also the importance of the lawn.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amazing really as a business for so many years, but I am with the less lawn group…we are planting more natives and less lawn in an effort to reclaim some of the habitat that was taken by all the houses built in the last 100 years…I think we can do with less lawn but it seems to be the status symbol still especially in the suburbs where it can be highly regulated.

    1. The size of the lawn can come down to fewer square yards. How wonderful an idea to fill that area with native plants. Thanks.

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