Turfgrass History and Facts

Most Americans enjoy having a clean-cut and very green yard; turfgrass was made to make this enjoyment easier. Turfgrass is an accumulation of grasses bound together by a mat of soil; the turf is made to be enjoyed, played on or mowed. In other words, turfgrass is purely for the eye. History has shown that grass has been incorporated into the human life for centuries upon centuries. Turf, greenery and lawncare has been an important aspect of the human life since the beginning of time.

Greenery and grass have been included across all parts of history. In the bible, grasses were used in gardens for meditation and relaxation. Believers felt that grass was a blessing from God. It helped feed animals, which in turn helped feed us. Grass was calming and beautifull; Both things,God felt, made the world right.

Revelation 9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

2 Samuel 23:4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Deuteronomy 11:15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.

In the 1200's grass was used as recreation such as "bowling areas" and game sites. Bowling was originially a luxury to the Europeans. A special area of grass was cleared and cut so as the equipment could be used efficiently. Only royalty could afford to play lawn bowling. Commoners were busy during the day working to feed their families and themselves. While royal families had free time during the day to purchase the equipment needed and bowl around their lavish homes. This sport was only allotted to the very few. Golf was developed around the 16th and 17th century, thus making more use of grass for golf areas. The Scottish originally invented the game as golf, seeing as Scotland had mainly flat and grassy plains for their country. The Scottish immigrants wanted to play golf in America, and cleared areas to play the sport. The first golf course was The Homestead in Virginia, and still open to play to this day.
American Football has also been derived from Europe; originally starting from Rugby rules and regulations. In the mid to late 1800's, Americans began forming leagues and teams to play against each other for entertainment. Of course, the players needed fields to play on. Rutgers and Princeton University is the first recorded football game, and the patch of land is still present today.

The appeal of grass in Europe began as a status symbol. Grassy knolls, hills and land was not only viewed as visually pleasing to Kings, Queens and royalty alike, but it protected the castles and houses surrounding. A neatly cut lawn meant that the grass was "scythed" or cut by hand. Royalty would have never cut their own grass, so they hired workers to handcut the lawns. No families besides royalty had enough money to pay people to keep up with the grass, so the sign of workers in the fields were of envy to commoners. Turfgrass was flourishing in Europe for the wealthy due to high rain and availability of paying the poor to "scythe" or cut the grasses. Americans quickly wanted to be seen as established and notable, thus sparked the demand for grass.
Most turfgrasses today in America are from Europe; much of the grasses now in America were brought from Europe with the animals that were brought over. The animals fed on the common grass, which was brought onto the boats that brought them to the country. Europeans also wanted to bring a part of their country to America; they brought seeds, thatches of land, and bundles of plants to be rehomed. Another way European grass got their new homes in America was by accident; seeds were attached to ropes, wood, and other materials and dropped upon the land. The grasses that did not live could not sustain the weather of America, but those that did survive still flourish today. However, Buffalograss is the only native grass still around the country.

In the early 1800's, the first reel lawn mower was created. It was pushed my man and had rotating rollers to cut the grass.Before the lawn mower, animals and cattle were the predominant way of keeping grass clipped. This mower movement began the frenzy of having close cut grass and getting rid of having to scythe grass. Gone were the days of being on hands and knees to keep an eye-pleasing lawn! Workers and commoners alike rejoiced; not only did this create new jobs in Europe, it meant there was less work to do for a bigger accomplishment. Larger areas of land could be cleared and mowed with less effort and strenuous work. The appeal of a clean cut lawn was broadened to less wealthy families, however it still was expensive to buy a mower, just as any new innovation is.


Parks also began to have a favoritism in the mid 19th century. Americans began to enjoy the great outdoors and wanted to make use of it. What was once fields, forrests, ponds and rivers became protected areas dedicated for human use. The "founder" of parks is considered Fredrick Law Olmstead (April 26, 1822 to August 28, 1903) who founded Central Park in New York.The site attracted the young and old alike, along with tourists and locals. Different types of parks started arising across the nation; parks for children, water parks, picnic parks, meditation parks and even themed parks.
Fertilizers were discovered by farmers to enhance the looks of their lawns, plants, produce and crops. They helped the roots grow, the plants grow and the flowers or food produced grow. Different types of soils and mixtures were found to enhance different types of plants and grasses.
Pesticides are different from fertilizers in that it was an innovation made to kill off insects and pests; hence the name. However, pesticides were originally very toxic and no longer consist of the same toxins. Pesticides have become very safe and efficient, although some organic users of produce disagree. As with any kind of chemical, an overdose is harmful to crops, animals and humans alike. But pesticides are much safer and more beneficial than the past chemicals used to rid of insects and pests.

Besides home lawns and golf courses, grass is widely used everywhere. You never realize how important turfgrass is until you stop and think about grass being everywhere! For example:

Campuses & Schools
Sports fields
Race Tracks



However, the two most popular sites for turfgrass are homes and golf courses! Lawn services make up $21.1 BILLION dollars in the United States, and golf courses make up $33.2 BILLION dollars! That is a lot of "green!"

*There are more than 10,000 types of grasses known to man. Can you name any?
Bermuda grass spreads very quickly and is the most popular grass in America
St. Augustine grass is fast growing
Buffalo grass has low maintenance
Zoysiagrass has an attractive look
Bahiagrass is good for soils consisting of sand
Kentucky Blue Grass has the best color

*Grass makes up 20% of the Earth's surface.

*A visually appealing lawn usually makes a house's selling price more expensive! Better grass = More $$$


Grass is everywhere, there is no doubt about that. Americans like to look at pretty things, and when turfgrass is properlly managed, Americans enjoy the greenery. Whether it is used for playing football, mowing designs or taking a nap on, turfgrass is always a constant factor in the outdoor enjoyment of life. When has anyone said they like the look of dried up dirt? Grass will always make people happy, and grass will always be around!