Formal lawns covered with short and tended to grass first appeared in France around the 1700s, and the idea soon spread to England and the rest of the world. Lawns were first kept clean and tidy by having animals graze on the grass, or scythe, sickle, or shears were used to hand cut the grass lawns.
The first patent for a mechanical lawn mower described as a “Machine for mowing lawns, etc.” was granted on August 31, 1830 to engineer, Edwin Beard Budding (1795-1846) from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England.
Budding’s design was based on a cutting tool used for the uniform trimming of carpet. It was a reel-type mower that had a series of blades arranged around a cylinder. John Ferrabee owner of Phoenix Foundry at Thrupp Mill, Stroud, first produced the Budding lawn mowers. The first unpatented lawn mower was probaly built by Scotsmen, Alexander Shanks in 1841 – a 27 inch pony drawn reel lawn mower.
The first United States patent for a reel lawn mower was granted to Amariah Hills on January 12, 1868. Early lawn mowers were often designed to be horse drawn, the horses often wore oversize leather booties to prevent lawn damage. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a very popular human pushed lawn mower, not the first to be human pushed, however, McGuire’s design was very lightweight and a commercial success.
Steam powered lawn mowers appeared in the 1890’s. In 1902, Ransomes produced the first commercially available mower powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine. In the United States, gasoline powered lawn mowers were first manufactured in 1919 by Colonel Edwin George.
On May 9, 1899, John Albert Burr patented an improved rotary blade lawn mower.