This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
To properly make a lasting lawn, and to keep it in good order, taxes the highest skill of the horticulturist, and when well executed, is the masterpiece of ornamental gardening. Without it all other improvements look insignificant. It forms the green carpet upon which all ornaments are to be placed, and its bright verdant hue imparts beauty to all.
Instructors upon lawn making, generally advise subsoiling the ground. If this be done, it should be a year previous to laying down the lawn. It is not always best to do it, as the subsoil may be a stiff clay, or barren sand. I have seen subsoil brought to the surface so poor that not even beans, peas or corn would grow, - the germs rusting and decaying away. The seeds of grasses are small and succeed best in mellow and fertile soil. Several species of grasses should be sown, and very thickly, to make a close, green turf. Red top or herd grass, blue grass, orchard grass and a little white Dutch clover. The land should be manured the previous year to sowing the grasses. After digging or plowing, harrow or rake fine, level up all hollows, and roll firmly down. Then sow the grasses, rake fine or harrow, then roll again. The sowing time will be according to climate and latitude. Between New York and Baltimore, say from early March to middle of May, and from early September to early in October, and all the Fall after that. "When grasses and weeds are well up, roll well, and let them all grow until the earliest weeds shoot up flower stalks, then mow down with the scythe or horse-mower, and scatter the cuttings evenly over the surface. "When they wither, roll again, and then rake all off.
On sandy lands, the summer mowings should be seldom. On sloping lands and terraces or banks, the grass should be let grow long in hot, dry weather, unless artificial watering is at hand. The lawn should not be weeded the first year, but cut down all weeds when they bloom to prevent them bearing seeds. Weeds may all be taken out in late fall, and more grass seeds sown.
Men with table knives, can get out a vast number of weeds in a short time. A thorough digging out of weeds, with table knives, will keep the lawn nearly clean. Do it in late fall or early spring. The lawn should be firmly rolled down every spring. It is good to sow some more grass seeds in late fall or early spring, so as to ensure a close turf the next summer.
Barnyard manure, so fermented and rotted to kill all seeds of weeds in it, is the best fertilizer. It should be spread equally over the surface in fall or winter, as salt is a most excellent fertilizer, when applied at the rate of five to ten bushels to the acre. Marl mixed with plaster of paris is beneficial on sandy lands. Guano, and all the concentrated fertilizers are good, but their effects are different upon different lands. Lime, wood ashes and stone coal ashes should all be compounded with soil a year before using, and spread over the lawn in fall.