The History of Lawn Mowers

September 20th, 2015

Ah, 1830, the year when the glorious lawn mower was invented by Edward Budding in Gloucestershire, England. Budding’s invention was called the cylinder mower and was designed to cut the grass on gardens and sports grounds. At the time, the cylinder mower was something to marvel at, and after it was granted a British patent in August 1830, soon became known as a viable substitute for scissors (and the goat!) which were a popular choice for cutting grass at the time.

Today, lawn mowers, for the most part, have been accepted as the standard feature of any white picket fence home. The lawn mower has come a long way from Edward Budding’s eureka moment to Robomow’s garden-friendly robotic lawn mower and here, we are going to take a look at its colourful history.

1830: The first Lawn Mower

As mentioned earlier, the lawn mower was invented by the English engineer Edward Budding. He first thought of the idea after he saw a machine in a local cloth mill. Budding realized how the same mechanism that was being used to trim cloth to give it a smooth finish after weaving could be used for cutting grass as well. By mounting the same machine on a wheeled frame, so that the blades rotated close to the grass, the cylinder mower was born.

Budding then went on to enter a partnership with another engineer, John Ferrabee, and together the two of them started to manufacture the cylinder mower in a factory at Stroud. The early machines, which are on display at the Stroud museum, were made up of cast iron and came with a large roller which housed the cutting cylinder or reel at the front. The cast iron gear wheels transmitted power from the rear roller on to the cutting cylinder, which amazingly enough makes them a lot similar to the lawn mowers that are used to this day.

Budding and Ferrabee were also smart enough to allow others to copy their design provided they were under license. Out of all of those companies, Ransomes of Ipswich was the most successful. Ransomes has been still manufacturing lawn mowers ever since and today he is still one of the world’s largest manufacturer of lawn mowers.


credit: Steven Depolo


1850: The Silent Mower, Caledonia and Automation

By 1850 Budding’s patent had lapsed, making way for other companies to come up with their own designs for the lawn mower. Over time, the lawn mower become lighter and made less noise, thanks to Thomas Green and Son, who introduced the Silens Messor, which means silent cutter. Considered to be far better than their gear driven cousins, the Silens Messor became a big hit in households even though its price tag was a bit steep for the time.

Along the same time also came other lawn mower manufacturers such as, Alexander Shanks who designed a range of Caledonia mowers, and Ransomes who introduced the Automation. All of these models came in various sizes and included grass collection boxes as an optional extra.

1890s: The Side-Wheel Push Mower

The next major leap for lawn mowers was the invention of the side-wheel machine. Even though they were invented in England, the side wheel lawn mower became extremely popular in North America. The side-wheel lawn mower used cast iron wheels on either side, which drove the cutting reel directly. And they didn’t have the metal rear roller, which made them lighter and affordable.

Early 1900s: Steam Lawn Mowers

Motorized lawn mowers which used lightweight petrol engine or steam power units appeared on the scene in the 1890s. While steam mowers worked great, by the early 1900s, the petrol powered lawn mowers won over the market. After WWI, lawn mower production when to all new highs, with many well known names such as Sims, Ransomes and Jefferies taking the driver’s seat it manufacturing lawn mowers.

1910s: Gas Powered Lawnmower & Push Mowers

One name that stood out during the same period was Atco, which launched the Atco motor mower in 1921. Qualcast was another lawn mower manufacturer who gained popularity with their E sidewheel and Panther roller mowers. The first gas powered reel lawnmower was introduced in America by the Ideal Power Mowing Company in Michigan in the year 1914. This was also along the same time that the riding lawn mower was introduced.




1930s: Smaller, Lighter Lawn Mowers

Through the 30s, 40s, and 50s, lawn mowers began to get smaller, lighter and more efficient. And by the 60s lawn mowers had advanced greatly, included plastic components and came at a reduced cost. The Monta mower was built from the year 1923 to 1962 by Montague Mfg. Co., Traverse City, Michigan. It was manufactured with a wooden T-handle until 1942 when the metal rod handle with rubber grips was first introduced.

1995: Solar Robotic Lawn Mower

In 1995, the world’s first solar powered robotic lawn mower was invented. The solar powered lawn mower is able to find its charging station with the help of emissions from a radio frequency by following a boundary wire.

2000s: The Rise of the Robotic Lawn Mower

Some other notable lawn mower types are the hover mower, the riding mower and the tractor pulled mower, all of which have their own qualities, which depend on the user’s requirements. That being said, the more advanced, robotic lawn mower is generally preferred by homeowners who do not wish to deal with the hassle of mowing their lawns.

Dozens of silent pods could be seen dawdling along lawns and feeding on grass, before returning to their charging pods for a quick recharge, before heading out again. While the first robots were launched in Britain in the 90s, but 2000 saw this sector brow not only in Britain, but also in the American market as well. Lawn mowers, such as the robotic lawn mower by Robomow, represent the latest in cutting edge (no pun intended!) lawn mower technology.

What makes Robomow unique is that it provides a beautiful cut. Apart from that, safety is the first priority of the robotic lawn mower, which makes it all the more valuable for home owners. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the design of the Robomow makes it nearly impossible for anything to be thrown from beneath the mower. Since projectiles such as rocks that are launched by the traditional mower results in a number of injuries, the robotic lawn mower offers a much safer option. Furthermore, there are also apps for your iOS and Android devices which enable you to control your robotic lawn mower from afar. Once the app has been installed, the user can tell their lawn mower when to start mowing the lawn, and also set a timer if they won’t be around the house.

Ending Note

The desire to have a fresh cut yard has led people to develop and design some outstanding lawn mowing machines over the years. From the early reel mowers to Robomow’s robotic lawn mower, a good lawn mower is all you need to get rid of those thick and tangled blades of grass and get a trimmed front lawn.