Nearing 190 years of evolving lawnmowing technology

Still one of the UK’s greatest icons, the lawnmower has continued to evolve since its invention in 1827.
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The first mow of the year comes with a sense of hope for Brits. For us it means that warm weather is either here or just around the corner. The smell of freshly cut grass evokes a sense of summer, thoughts of barbeques, paddling pools and afternoons spent in the garden.

As Britain prepares for summer, we think more about what we could do in the garden rather than the task that lies ahead in getting it ‘summer ready’. The lawnmower is seen as a household essential and has been a staple part of the British home for decades, but many do not know its history.

Presenting itself over the years in many different colours, shapes and sizes, the lawnmower, will next year celebrate its 190th anniversary. Still an icon of Britishness, the manicured lawn is a thing of pride, but the lawnmower itself has changed quite drastically since its invention.

Made in the UK

In 1827, a man named Edwin Budding invented the lawnmower. Budding, from Thrupp, just outside of Stroud, Gloucestershire designed the mower as a machine to cut grass on sports grounds and extensive gardens. His lawnmower was a superior alternative to a scythe and on August 31, 1830 it was granted a British patent.

historic lawnmower

5 facts about the first ever lawnmower

1. Budding's first machine was 19 inches (480 mm) wide
2. Its frame was made of wrought iron
3. Two of the earliest Budding machines sold went to Regent's Park Zoological Gardens in London and the Oxford Colleges
4. Cast iron gear wheels transmitted power from the rear roller to the cutting cylinder
5. When cutting, the grass clippings were hurled forward into a tray-like box.

As with most technology, clever minds find a way to improve it, refine it and make it evolve. Ten years after Budding’s success, further innovations meant the machine could be drawn by farms animals, such as horses and cows. Further to that, in the 1850s Thomas Green & Son of Leeds, Yorkshire introduced a mower called the Silens Messor (meaning silent cutter). This used a chain drive to transmit power, from the rear roller to the cutting cylinder, and these machines were lighter and quieter than the gear driven machines that came before them.

Interestingly, sport was the catalyst in a drive for production. A rise in popularity of lawn sports in particular, meant more demand for lawnmowers and manufacturing took off in the 1860s.

Jump to 1893 and James Sumner of Lancashire patented the first steam-powered lawnmower. His machine burned petrol and/or paraffin (kerosene) as fuel. Numerous manufacturers entered the field with petrol engine-powered mowers after the start of the 20th century.

By the 1920s, smaller and more powerful motor powered mowers were being produced. The progress of rotary mowers could be seen throughout the 1900s, with machines being refined commercially to make use easier.

The invention of the hover-mower

The invention of the ‘Flymo’ hover-mower by Karl Dahlman came in 1964 based on a concept similar to that of a hovercraft. Dahlman designed a slick, lightweight lawn mower that glided on a cushion of air, which proved to be revolutionary within the industry.

This innovative lawnmower took the market by storm with Flymo struggling to keep up with demand. Karl Dahlman’s hover mower proved so successful, it attracted the interest of the electrical giant Electrolux, who acquired the company in 1969.

Throughout the next decade, both petrol and electric mowers continued to improve, and for Flymo a variety of fresher, more efficient lawnmowers were designed. In 1977 the first Flymo lawnmowers were available in the iconic orange colour that you see today.


In 1978 Flymo introduced the world’s first grass collecting hover mower. In the same year, Electrolux acquired Husqvarna who manufactured chainsaws, lawn mowers and cutting machinery in Sweden, Norway and America.

In the years that followed, lawnmowers continued to improve at speed, and a variety of different types of mowers became commercially available.

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Evolving into robotics

In 1995 Husqvarna, Flymo’s parent company, released the first robotic lawnmower, a machine which worked unassisted around the garden. In 2014, Flymo released its Robotic Lawnmower 1200R, a robotic mower for the general consumer. Automatically cutting the lawn, the 1200R is designed for easy installation and mows independently, without ever having to collect the grass, returning to its charging station when in need of power.

This year, for the first time ever, Flymo has put robotic lawnmowing at the heart of its business with the launch of an integrated TV advertising campaign, worth over £850,000. Designed to maintain Flymo as the leading lawnmower brand in the UK, as well as growing awareness and boosting sales of the Flymo Robotic lawnmower 1200R.

robotic lawnmower