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Last Update 06/03/08

America's Top Ten Lawns

Top Ten Lawns List Celebrates America's Best Public Green Spaces
--Briggs & Stratton Honors Outstanding Public Lawns for Form and Function--

Doubleday Field -- Photo 1997 Brian Merzbach

Some of America's most renowned public lawns reflect America's most enduring characteristics: power and influence, pride and competitive spirit, freedom and simplicity. For the third consecutive year, 10 outstanding green spaces have been named to the Briggs and Stratton Top Ten Lawns List:

  • The Alamo

  • Doubleday Field

  • George Eastman House

  • Georgia International Plaza

  • Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

  • Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

  • "The Lawn" at the University of Virginia

  • Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

  • Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens

  • United States Naval Academy

The Briggs and Stratton Top Ten Lawns List annually recognizes outstanding public lawns across the country. From national landmarks to outdoor American icons, these plots of grass are an undeniable part of our heritage and culture.

According to "The American Lawn", edited by Georges Teysott, public lawns have been a key fixture in the United States for at least two centuries, "as a symbol of the colonial past and as a constant ideal in the American-built environment. Thus, in America, the open grass plot within the village center embodied a sense of community and self-governance."

"The Top Ten Lawn List continues to exemplify the best American lawns," said George R. Thompson, vice president, corporate communications and community relations at Briggs & Stratton. "The 2000 list is an incredible collection of landscapes that are integral components of some of our most cherished national icons."

Each of the Top Ten Lawns was evaluated on the following criteria: overall appearance; lawn and garden maintenance and care philosophy; use of green space to enhance or complement the look; visual appeal; and significance of the site. Candidates were identified by turf management professionals, horticulturalists, landscape designers and lawn and garden experts, who nominated noteworthy lawns.

Listed in alphabetical order, here's a closer look at the Top Ten Lawns:

The Alamo, San Antonio

The Alamo is a living tribute to the heroes who died during the battle for Texas' independence. A manicured landscape consisting of zoysia grass is regularly maintained to appeal to the 2 1/2 million visitors that come to the Alamo each year. The lawn and gardens surrounding this historic battle site are designed to provide an oasis-like setting amidst downtown San Antonio. To add even more interest, the grounds are broken up into compartment-like rooms.

Doubleday Field, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Doubleday Field, located just one block from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, is situated on a former cow pasture where baseball was first played more than a century ago. The Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees transformed the pasture into a ballpark of major-league specifications in 1939, and it now seats approximately 10,000 fans. The field is made up of two acres of blue grass/rye grass mixture and is mowed in a five-direction  pattern to obtain a striped effect.

George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, lavished great care and attention toward the design, construction, expansion and refinement of his private urban estate, including the house and gardens. Much of the historic house, its grounds, and principal gardens at this current-day photography museum have been carefully restored to their original appearance. A simple, pesticide-free lawn -- a variety of bent, blue and fescue grasses -- plays an integral role in the overall design and visitor experience.

Georgia International Plaza, Atlanta

Home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the Georgia International Plaza is also a welcome mat for visitors to three of the city's busiest destination spots, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome and Phillips Arena. The Plaza's five lush acres of Emerald Green Zoysia grass are situated in downtown Atlanta atop a seven-story parking deck. The unique location poses a challenge for turf management. Due to the weight constraints on the parking deck, a lightweight soilless planting medium was used to promote drainage and minimize water accumulation. Moisture and nutrient levels are measured constantly, and a hybrid cultural program was developed to maximize health benefits and minimize disease and pests.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Gate Park, one of the largest man-made parks in the world, was developed in 1870 on a site consisting mainly of sand dunes. The 1.017-acre area of lush landscape that characterizes the park today bears little resemblance to its former state. Currently, Golden Gate Park is a pleasure ground of a thousand wonders including dog parks, football, baseball and soccer fields, running trails and picnic areas. At times, it even serves as an outside stage for plays. In the open area, stretching over many acres, is a myriad of beautiful blooms. Trees and shrubs of many varieties also add beauty to the scene.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich.

The crown jewel of pristine Mackinac Island, Grand Hotel is the world's largest summer hotel and national historic landmarkthat dates to the late 1800s. The hotel's expansive front lawn, called the Tea Garden, has been the center of activity for more than 100 years. Today, the Tea Garden, which is made up of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, is used for croquet and bocci ball games. It is also the site of a children's carnival, outdoor jazz performances and countless wedding ceremonies. The Grand Hotel's famous front porch includes 2,000 geraniums in 260 planting boxes.

"The Lawn" at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

More than than just the University's front yard, the historic Lawn on the Academical Village at the University of Virginia is one of the most important green spaces in the country. Designed and built by Thomas Jefferson between 1817 and 1826, The Lawn still looks and functions much as it did in Jefferson's era -- as a vital community organized around learning. The Lawn, measuring 700 feet in length and 200 feet in width, is built in four terraces and includes 10 unigue pavilions, two one-story Tuscan colonnades spanning the long sides, and is anchored by the Rotunda, Jefferson's final project completed in 1826, the year he did. A field blend of hardy perennial rye grasses, known for quick green-up and the ability to take abuse, ensures that the expansive Lawn will provide a lush green backdrop for campus visitors.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Great Falls, Mont.

The Interpretive Center is a world-class facility interpreting the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Interest in the expedition extends to the native plants the two explorers collected, studied and propagated. The native landscape that was thriving during Lewis and Clark's time has been re-established to give visitors a more realistic and complete experience. Native grasses, including Western Wheatgrass, plus various wildflowers and shrubs have returned the landscape to how it appeared nearly 200 years ago. Minimal turf management is necessary because natural landscapes are mostly self-sustainable. Volunteers and staff are called upon to hand pull weeds to protect the sensitive plantings.

Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens, Charleston, S.C.

Magnolia Plantation has been the original ancestral home of the Drayton family for more than three centuries, and has played important roles in early colonial settlement and the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Its lawns are many and diverse, and include pasture areas on which animals graze as well as highly-manicured, formal landscapes. Its green canvas of primarily St. Augustine and centipede grasses is overseeded with domestic rye for the winter months.

United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Established in 1845, the Naval Academy is set on 338 acres of land between the south bank of the Severn River and historic downtown Annapolis. The Yard, as the campus is called, features tree-lined brick walks, French Renaissance and contemporary architectural and scenic vistas of the Chesapeake Bay. The Bancroft Hall dormitory complex, the Naval Academy Chapel and other 90-year-old building make the academy a National Historic Site. Naval Academy midshipmen perform on the expansive fescue landscape for formations and parades. Athletic events and a variety of other ceremonies also take place outside, making the outdoor environment an integral part of the academy.

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