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Imagine Doing Spring Yard Work Without Tools

Updated on April 19, 2011

The Wooden Ox


There was a time not so long ago when tilling the land was done by horse and man. Today with a few, not so modern, inventions that job is not so daunting.


The wheelbarrow is one of those inventions that was invented and reinvented at many places for various uses. In ancient Greece around 407 BC, while building the temple of Eleusis, a tool referred to as ‘a one wheeler’ was used. Could this be the first wheelbarrow? It is not mentioned again until AD 200. Chuko Liang, of the Chinese Imperial Army, designed a cart to carry military supplies. The cart had a single wheel about four feet in diameter. It is believed he copied his design from a two-wheeled handcart used to carry rice and vegetables. The Chinese called their version of the wheelbarrow, a ‘wooden ox’ or a ‘gliding horse.’

The European wheelbarrow was a copy of a hod, a wooden basket hanging between two poles and carried by two or more men. Someone replaced the front men with a single wheel. The driver had to lift the cart, push it and balance it while walking.


Where is my washing machine motor?


The lawn mower was invented by a foreman at a textile plant in England. Edwin Budding was using a rotary shearing machine to make cotton cloth. He used the rotary motor to cut grass in his own yard. After perfecting his idea, he filed for a patent in 1830. In Budding’s advertisement in 1832 he stated, “Country gentlemen will find in using my machine and amusing, useful and healthful exercise.”  It took awhile for the lawn mower to catch on.

The first gasoline-powered lawn mower was invented by an American Army colonel in 1919. Edwin George took the motor from his wife’s washing machine and attached it to a walk-behind roller-blade lawn mower.

Softer rubber



The rubber garden hose was one of the first practical uses of rubber. Charles Goodyear knew there was a way to make rubber less brittle.  He experimented to the point of going bankrupt. Goodyear was successful in finding a way to make the rubber softer and pliant, but he couldn’t find any money backers to help him.  Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich started B.F. Goodrich Company in Akron, Ohio in 1870.  B.F. Goodrich was able to get the financially backing that Charles Goodyear did not have.  His company made the first heavy-duty, cotton-covered fire hose. In the year 1871 several inventions came as a result of the change in the rubber formulas: gaskets, bottle stoppers, preserving rings and for outside the garden hose. 


Flowers and Vegetables from Seeds


A young poultry farmer, Washington Atlee Burpee started a mail-order business out of his parents’ home while still in high school. In 1878, he started selling high-quality seeds in his catalogues. Millions of homes world wide have their vegetable and flower beds thanks to Burpee seeds.


The Grass in Always Greener


An Ohio farmer named Orlando Mumford Scott produced the first home lawn fertilizer in 1928. He later combined the grass fertilizer and a weed killer to form Weed & Feed in 1946.

Grass covers more than one quarter of the earth’s vegetable and consists of more than 7000 species. A Greek garden of 400BC included a small part of mixed green grass and weeds. One of the earliest recordings of a reference to a lawn is from Nathaniel Hawthorne. On a visit to England in the mid 1880’s he wrote of missing the natural American front yard. He wrote…”rich in its varieties of weeds, nettles, cloves, and dandelions.”  This is a vision far from the lush, green yards of today.


With these and a few more modern inventions the yard work of today is more a hobby than a full time job.


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