If you’re a homeowner, odds are your lawn is an important aspect of your property. We take pride in our lawns. While our trusty lawn service cuts the grass on a warm Saturday, we crack open a cold one and proudly survey our domain. Even if you don’t take pleasure from yard work, you know that a well cared for lawn will increase your property values.
It wasn’t always like this. In fact, while lawns were popular with the European aristocracy from the Middle Ages onwards, Americans didn’t get into lawn culture until the early 20th century. Part of the reason for that was the legislative passage of the 40 hour work week in 1938. Before then, most people simply didn’t have time to care for a lawn. Primarily, the end of World War II and the massive housing boom was what cemented the lawn into popular consciousness. When the boom occurred, more people than ever were able to afford real estate that featured a yard. And why not? The yard was a status symbol, a way to not only tell others, but to reassure yourself that you’d made it.
When we think of lawns, we naturally think of suburbs. Levittown, New York, was the first suburb in the 20th century. Between 1947 and 1951, developer Abraham Levitt and his sons built over 17,000 homes, each including its own lawn. He wrote, “No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the locality as well-kept lawns.”