This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
As a lawn in good condition is an object of great attraction about any place, large or small, too much care cannot be bestowed upon selecting the most suitable varieties of seeds with which to sow it down. This may be the more needful, as those who have written upon the subject, do not seem agreed as to which are the best for the purpose. Some tell us a mixture of Timothy, Red Top, and June Grass is the best, while others would add to this, just so much of Orchard Grass, a pinch or two of sweet Vernal, with a sprinkling of Crested Dog's Tail, and a Fescue or two.
Now, we believe very satisfactory results can be obtained by sowing several of the species just named, either singly or together; but how Timothy has come to be ranked with these, does not appear so plain, lacking as it does, the most essential properties of a lawn grass. This will be the more evident when it is borne in mind, that those grasses which grow close to the ground, and spread by running root - stocks, are better adapted to endure frequent mowings without becoming thin on the ground or running out, than those which are of strict in their habit of growth, or which grow in tufts. Timothy grows somewhat in this way, and, consequently, lasts but a short time under the scythe, and even while it does last, contrasts unfavorably with some of the finer-leaved varieties.
Looking impartially at the subject, it seems that no species do better in this climate of ours, than Poa pratensis and Agrostis vulgaris, or form such a close-matted carpet of green from early spring until late in the fall. They will grow together for years in the most of situations without the one gaining much advantage over the other. But should they be sown on land of unequal depth and fertility, or where a gravelly or sandy subsoil in some places mars the surface, the Agrostis would be likely to predominate on the poorest places before many years, whilst on the better portions the other would take its place.
Striking examples of this are sometimes to be met with on pasture lands, and may be accounted for on the supposition, that as the Poa is the most luxuriant grower, is also first in motion in the spring, and comes into flower several weeks before the other, it thus gains an advantage which tells upon its more tardy neighbor. But although this difference of character is quite apparent, no harm results therefrom, as either the one or the other is all. or nearly all, that can be desired to make a lawn as attractive as it possibly can be.
As the Agrostis has the finest foliage of the two, and is adapted to as great a diversity of soil and climate as any other, I have in years past used nothing else in lawn-making, with the exception, of course, of White Clover, and am persuaded-that with these alone, as fine a sward can be obtained as with any mixture whatever, either on land that is dry, or where it is as wet as ever a lawn should be.
The proportions generally sown have been two and a half bushels, or thirty pounds to the acre, and three pounds of White Clover per bushel. This looks like an excessive quantity, and so it is, when it is remembered that at this • rate, the Red Top alone gives no less than 33 seeds to the square inch. But as there are numerous chances against its equal distribution, it is better to sow a little too thick than too thin; as overcrowding amongst the plants will speedily be corrected by the strongest bearing down those that are weak and unable to hold their own in the struggle of life.