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.
Mr. P. Barry, in his excellent address before the Geneva Horticultural Society, says the following is the simplest and best way to make a handsome lawn: " The ground should be entirely free from stagnant water. It must be trenched or trench-plowed to the depth of eighteen or twenty-four inches. A week of hot, dry weather will be sufficient to dry up the grass on a thin soil, whilst on a deep, well-prepared soil, a whole month of drought will fail to destroy the verdure. The depth, whatever it may be, should be uniform, for if it be deeper in some places than in others, the deep places will settle and make the ground uneven. Evenness of surface is of great importance. I do not mean level, for an undulating surface is quite as desirable for a lawn as a level one, but whether level or undulating it must be smooth and free from even the smallest stones, as these interfere with the operations of the mowing machine.
Bed top is the best grass for a lawn, about fifty or sixty pounds to the acre. Fifty pounds will be sufficient if the seed be clean and good, which it seldom is. Some people recommend white clover, say one-fourth, to be mixed with the red top, and this does very well, but I prefer the pure red top. Early in the spring is the best time for seeding a lawn. All preparatory work should be performed in the fall, so that during winter the ground may settle, and any defects that may be developed can be corrected before sowing. In spring, at the fitting moment, give a light plowing, a good harrowing, pick off the stones, sow the seed, and give it a good rolling, which finishes the work. By sowing early in the spring you may have a respectable lawn before midsummer".