The practice of having large turfgrass lawns began in Europe when areas around castles were cleared up so that the landscape could be seen. Today, turfgrasses are a common part of most suburban and rural properties and are also sometimes found on urban properties. Turfgrasses make up a huge portion of many parks and act as padding for sports such as football.
Early 16th century lawns used thyme and chamomile instead of Saint Augustine grass or Kentucky bluegrass, according to Organic Lawn Care.
Turfgrass used to be grown using carefully sowed seeds. Later, expert farmers developed sod techniques. The earliest cases of commercial sod were in the 1920s. Agriculturists discovered the proper conditions in which grass must be grown. In Florida there was high demand for easily installed grass, according to Florida Turf. In the 1950s, hydroseeding methods were developed as a way to quickly spread grass seed over large areas.
Saint Augustine was one of the first grasses that early turfgrass developers planned on using in blends. Saint Augustine grass was reported being used in Florida in 1880. It is very shade-resistant, allowing the grass to be placed in a variety of locations, according to Florida Turf. Over time, other kinds of grass started to be used in turfgrass, such as Kentucky Bluegrass.
Lawns were largely popularized by golf and lawn bowling. These sports came with the Scottish to America before the Revolutionary War. The popularity of these sports and of lawns in general waned until more Scots immigrated to America, according to Organic Lawn Care. As golf became more important in the U.S., the U.S. Golf Association helped the U.S. Department of Agriculture conduct research on the best methods of growing grass between 1910 and 1920. Prior to this, grass had also been increasingly used in parks that were created as a result of city beautification projects that started in the mid 19th century. Both of these factors influenced the popularity of grass in the United States.
During the Great Depression, there was still enough of a demand for sod in affluent areas for the sod to remain in demand and for the turfgrass industry to survive. Lawns were originally too labor-intensive to be practically owned. According to Organic Lawn Care, the amount of labor required to maintain turfgrass had always caused lawns to be a mark of wealth. However, the invention of the lawnmower in 1830 and the lawnmower's gradual drop in price eventually made it possible for most homeowners to have turfgrass.