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America’s Lawn Meant Open Space with No Fences

One difference in the nineteenth-century American version of the English garden style was the lack of fences in our landscape.

American democracy impacted the homegrounds as well.

Democracy means we are all equal. One property is as valuable as another because it’s ‘home’.

The English created a boundary around the landscape or garden with fences, whether by planting shrubs or installing man-made barrriers of whatever materials were available.

In nineteenth-century America the lawn was to be open to view and thus connect one property with another.

Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan wrote in his magazine of 1886 Gardener’s Monthly: “In suburban landscape gardening there has been a tendency of late years to abolish all line fences and especially those which separate the front yards from the street.”

He included this image [left] from Frank J. Scott’s book, written in 1870 and reissued in 1885,  The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds.

Notice how one property’s lawn just flows into the neighbor’s.

Thus Meehan encouraged the open space in the landscape both in his essay and in this illustration he included in his garden magazine.


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