Since the introduction of the lawn-mowers, the keeping of the lawn has been so simplified that no suburban residence is complete without one, and there is now no more excuse for tall grass "going to hay" in the door yard than there would be for cobwebs taking possession of the rooms inside the dwelling. We occasionally see some parsimonious individual, even now, who remembers that in his grandfather's days, grass was allowed to grow for the food of the "critters," and he leaves it for food for his "critters" still. Though at the same time his furniture inside, that nobody but himself ever sees, or has an opportunity to admire, for such men are not troubled with friends, may have cost him $5,000 or $10,000. We have two or three notable examples of this kind in my immediate neighborhood, but it is gratifying to know that such neighbors are not numerous, for the example of the majority will soon shame them into decency. To have a lawn in first rate condition, the ground must be put in order in the way described under the heads of "Draining" and "Preparation of the Soil," for if these are necessary anywhere, they are still more necessary for the lawn, the soil of which should be as thoroughly pulverized and enriched by manure, as any ground intended for the cultivation of either vegetables or fruits.
Great care must be taken to have the surface of the ground for the lawn, (unless a very large one), made perfectly level, for if this is not done before the lawn is sown, it cannot be altered but at great expense and inconvenience. After the surface is made level roughly, it should be further smoothed with the rake, and all stones of any considerable size removed, so that the surface will be smooth for the action of the lawn-mower. Wherever the extent of the lawn does not exceed 2,500 square feet, and where sods can be obtained from a suitable pasture near at hand without much cost, the best way to make the lawn is to sod it, but before doing so, the ground should be rolled or beaten down, particularly if any portion of it has been filled in, so that there may be no "settling" to form hollows or inequalities. A convenient size of sod to lay down is 12 by 18 inches, and of a thickness of 2 inches, in laying see that the edges are neatly laid together; and the whole firmly beaten down with the back of a spade. If it is dry weather when the work is done, it may be necessary to thoroughly drench the newly-laid sod for a week or so after planting, every other evening. When the lawn is too extensive to be sodded, the following mixture of grass seed may be used, which we have found to make an excellent lawn:
8 quarts Rhode Island Bent Grass.
3 quarts Creeping Bent Grass. 10 quarts Bed Top Grass. 10 quarts Kentucky Blue Grass.
1 quart White Clover.
This mixture is not indispensable to the formation of a good lawn, though we believe it to be the best. Some of the fine lawns seen at Newport, R. I, are composed almost entirely of Rhode Island Bent grass mixed with about one-sixth of white clover, but the humidity of the atmosphere there has no doubt more to do with the richness of the lawn than the variety of grass it is composed of. I may here caution the use of spurious seed for this purpose. It is no uncommon thing that either through ignorance or short-sighted economy, "hay-seed" is taken direct from the hay-loft and sown to form the lawn. If from good hay, the seed will be principally timothy and red clover, and vain would be all the attempts to get a smooth lawn from such a source. It would be about as reasonable to expect figs from thistles. If the soil is rich, and has been thoroughly prepared, three bushels per acre will be sufficient, but if thin and poor, from four to five bushels had better be sown. If sown in early spring, as soon as the soil is dry enough to work, a good lawn will be formed by midsummer the first year, if it has been mown regularly at intervals of eight or ten days. The seed must be sown as evenly as possible, and for this reason a calm day must be chosen, as a very slight wind will throw the seed into heaps. After sowing, the ground may be lightly harrowed if the surface is large, but if not, give it an even raking, but in either case the ground should be smoothed down with a roller or patted with a spade, so to form a smooth surface to be mowed. Although if a choice can be had, it is best to sow the lawn seed in early spring, yet it can be sown nearly as profitably in September, or in the more southerly states in October, or for that matter, even as late as May and June in spring, only if so late, it is better to mix one quart of oats to every bushel of grass-seed, that the oats may shade and protect the young grass from the sun until it has root enough to support itself. But if sown in March or April, or in September or October, there is no need of using the oats, as no injury will be done by the sun at these seasons. To keep the lawn in proper condition, it should be mowed over once every week if the weather is moist, and not less than once in two weeks, even in dry weather, for if the lawn has been properly made in the first place, and "top dressed" with a good coat of well-rotted manure in fall, and the rough raked off in spring, the weather must be dry and hot indeed to prevent its growth.