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.
A carpet-like effect may be produced with the Alternanthera on a smooth lawn in the following manner: cut strips or figures out of the turf of any shape determined on, from three to four inches deep, and in width considerably narrower than the width of the ordinary mowing machine. The object of restricting the width of the shallow pits is, that after they are occupied by the proposed plant, the hand mower may be forced over the lines or figures without falling into the sunken space and crushing its contents. The plants should be of good size when set in the ground, that the narrow space allotted them may soon be filled up. And in order to maintain a distinct outline, the Alternanthera should be planted near the sides of the pit, thus preventing encroachments from the grass, and at the same time admitting of free growth upwardly, and inwardly toward its centre. The earth in the pits, if of too close a character, should be removed to a depth of from six to twelve inches and replaced with a more open soil; otherwise, the plants might be liable to injury by water remaining around them after heavy rains.
The lawn run all over with tortuous lines but a single plant in width, would furnish an attractive arrangement; or the decoration might be of spots and figures of small size, each figure or spot requiring from one to as many as six or eight plants.
In a general way, the Alternanthera varies considerably in color, and this variation may be made use of to greatly increase effects.
With some planning there may be several suitable styles of ornamental treatment. I have some drawings exhibiting the Alternanthera in the pits and the grass on either side trimmed down by the machine to an equal height. Still another section shows a band of Alternanthera on the lawn, and a second band forming one of a series of ribbons of foilage plants, this latter, starting from the grass line and being rounded upwards until it touches the adjoining ribbon. These suggestions are, of course, for the amateur; the professional gardener will follow his own fancy.