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How The Lawn Became Essential for the Home Landscape

You might wonder where your need for a lawn originated.

In nineteenth century America, especially in the suburbs, the lawn became an integral part of the home landscape, no small thanks to the catalogs of the seed and nursery industries.

The Vick Seed Company from Rochester, New York sold seed at the back of its catalog of 1889.

The catalog said, “Nothing is pleasanter than a good lawn, and nothing is more easily made and kept in order by a little well directed care.”

Thus Vick discussed the importance of the lawn, and pointed out how easy it was to install a lawn.

Notice this illustration that appeared on that same catalog page [below] where the Company offered its grass seed for sale. A child appears at the front of this lawn with several people playing tennis or badminton on the lawn behind her.

Vick Lawn 1889
Vick’s Floral Guide 1889

Thus both in word and image this catalog established how essential the lawn was to the landscape.

The instructions in the catalog were quite clear: “Four bushels of Grass Seed for an acre are required to make a good lawn in a short time.”

The catalog then recommended a practice we have continued to this very day: “The best time to sow the lawn is in September rather than in spring or summer.”

It was simply a matter of no dispute that the lawn would be part of any home landscape for the American gardener.

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