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.
In laying out my grounds, one acre in extent, two years ago, I was unable to obtain manure to mix with the soil at the time of plowing and seeding down to graea. My trees and shrubs being now planted, I cannot plow again nor can I obtain manure enough for a top dressing. Manure cannot be had here, at present, for love or money. My soil is a loam, with too great a proportion of day. The grass seed and clover came up, but it has made a scanty growth and dries up in summer.
Now, sir, how can I best treat such a lawn to secure a more vigorous growth of grass, and a better verdure in mid-summer! I have a barrel of poudrette and can procure guano, coal dust, ashes, &c; but if the first two of these are applied in the spring, will they not burn the grass in summer!
Again, Would it not be advantageous to cut sods from the roadside in spring, and after rotting them thoroughly, or burning them, apply them in summer as a top dressing! Would not this serve to absorb moisture from the air, and protect the roots of the grass from the heat of the sun!
Please tell me, in your next number, the best thing I can do, under the circumstances, for my lawn. A. D. G. - Clinton, N. Y.
It is almost impossible to sustain a good midsummer verdure on a badly prepared soil, even with the most liberal top dressing, unless it be drenohed daily with water. We think if your lawn were ours, we should trench it eighteen inches deep, (especially that part nearest the house) apply poudrette, or other enriching composts, and seed down anew with pure red top grass. A shallow plowed, clayey soil, breaks and cracks in dry, hot weather, and the grass dies out. A lawn is a permanent affair, and it is annoying to have it, year after year, show the effects of a bad bottom, and to be continually applying some temporary relief without satisfactory results. You may try it with a top dressing of poudrette early in the season, before the spring rains cease, or the weather becomes warm. Then in mid summer give it two or three good drenchings with weak guano water. A good compost of decayed leaves, mock, etc., with poudrette, would be better than pondrette alone, as it could be laid on thick enough to form a coating that would protect the roots.