This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Gardener, Baltimore, Md., writes: "Will you kindly refer me to the best treatise upon Lawn Culture, especially with reference to keeping green during Summer droughts, and the exclusion of Crab Grass, and other intruders in Autumn? Is heavy fertilizing desirable? Any danger of rendering grass coarse thereby? I have stiff subsoil".
There is no special treatise that we know of, but, on a stiff subsoil it is easy to have a lawn that will not dry out in Baltimore.
First, subsoil; that is to say, stir up the soil twenty inches deep. There are two sets of roots to grasses, those which go deep down in search of moisture, as the branches of a tree go upward; and those which keep near the surface, hunting for food, as the leaves make food for the tree. For the sake of these moisture collectors, the deeply loosened soil will hold something all the season through.
Secondly, use pure Blue Grass, and nothing else, and sow it thickly. No grass keeps so green through hot weather in our climate, as this. It will form a dense mass in time, and so thick that it will not let any other grass grow.
Thirdly, though we say sow only Blue Grass, pure and simple, we will emphasize it by adding, avoid all "mixtures," all clover, and such creeping things. All these easily burn out in hot weather, and their only known use is something like that of Satan in human things, to keep the world from becoming too good. These things struggle with the good grass, and keep it in check, but we do not want it checked.
Fourthly, as to Crab Grass, that vile pest of American lawns, it is hard work fighting it when it once gets in, and the best way is still to encourage its enemy, the Blue Grass, to fight it. Sow Blue Grass among it, and when you mow, leave the grass at each mowing as long as you dare, without its looking untidy. Very close cutting with a mower, is good luck to the Crab Grass. It will soon overpower and choke out Blue Grass, when you help it in this way. Continued close mowing is extremely favorable to nasty little creeping weeds.
Fifthly, in sowing grass seed, you may have a few Oats or Rye with it, in Fall sowing; as the leaves falling keep the young plants of grass against thawing and freezing out; but keep them cut down in Spring •, and never sow Rye or Oats, or anything with the grass in Spring, for any reason whatever.
Sixthly, weeds, the first year or two, are apt to be troublesome, but keep them down by the scythe. Generally the second year the grass will crowd them all out.
This is about all there is in making a first-class lawn. Of course there is much of detail which only experience can work out. The surface must be made very level; but too much time is often spent on this with hand rakes, as a good and judicious rolling will often do just as well, but these sort of lessons no writer can teach. They come only to those who, at work, have a keen appreciation of cause and effect in the work they are doing.