Time of sowing and the best seed are subjects of equal importance. Unless we look well to these two essentials we may have our trouble in the manuring and preparation of the ground set to naught. Spring and Fall are the best seasons for sowing, preferably the months of April and September. Lawns seeded late in the Fall should be given a mulch as a Winter protection.
The varieties of grasses suitable for the making of a good lawn are limited. The general desire is for a close turf of pleasing color. Soil and climatic conditions will enter largely into the right selection. (The recommendations which follow apply to the Atlantic coast region north of Washington, D. C, and the Allegheny region as far south as northern Georgia.)
Kentucky Blue Grass is the best all-around lawn grass and will thrive in any good lawn, providing it receives a generous but not excessive amount of moisture.
In soils of very light character Red Top, Rhode Island Bent, Creeping Bent or White Clover are good.
On account of the varied conditions met with, a mixture including the above named kinds in varying proportion, is usually most satisfactory.
Seed of the highest grade from a reliable house should be purchased and sown at the rate of five bushels (100 lbs.) to the acre; or, one quart to 300 sq. ft. This will allow for a very generous seeding, which is much to be preferred to seed sparsely scattered.
Grass seeds will vary in weight as to the number of pounds to the bushel. In recleaned seeds of a high grade, Blue Grass should run from twelve to fifteen pounds to the bushel; Red Top extra recleaned, thirty pounds to the bushel; Creeping Bent, twenty pounds; Rhode Island Bent, fourteen pounds; White Clover, sixty pounds. A good grass seed mixture should average twenty pounds to the bushel.
A calm day should be chosen for the seeding, otherwise it is hard to get an equal distribution. The seeding should be done in two directions, dividing the seed into two lots, one lot being sown at a right angle to the other. After sowing, the seed should be covered to a depth of about one-quarter of an inch; this may be done by raking the surface lightly. The ground should then be rolled with a light roller. When the young grass is about one and one-half inches high it should be rolled again and the first cutting made when about two inches high. The machine should be set quite high for the first cutting. All bare and thin places should be promptly reseeded.
LAWNS GRADED AROUND TREES.
Fig. 76. - Sometimes it is necessary to raise the grade on ground where large trees are established. A fill of a foot or more of soil over the roots of a tree will kill it very quickly. Such trees may be preserved by building a dry retaining wall, with a diameter at least two feet greater than the trunk. - See page 72.
The lawn having been thoroughly established it is very essential that careful and systematic attention be given to the upkeep; otherwise it will deteriorate very quickly.
Weeds are always a menace and, linked with Fall Grass, should be continually fought against. Newly made lawns often contain many weeds of an annual nature which disappear after a few cuttings. The perennial weeds are persistent and can only be effectively removed by hand. The dandelion and plantain are exceedingly troublesome and must be removed, root and top. This may be done with a sharp chisel or a three-pronged fork. Weeding forks for this purpose are to be had at all seed stores. Boys can usually be had to do this work at the rate of a few cents per hundred.
During moist weather, when the grass is making vigorous growth, it should be cut about once in a week and an occasional rolling will help greatly to keep the surface firm. Grass does poorly on a loose surface. In hot, dry weather the blades in the machine should be raised so that the grass will be left of sufficient length to afford some protection to the roots. Too close cutting during Midsummer weakens the turf and makes it more susceptible to the inroads of Fall grass.
Every Spring a fertilizer should be applied that will supply per acre one hundred pounds of potash and fifty pounds of available phosphoric acid. Apply at the same time a top dressing of three hundred pounds of nitrate of soda. The nitrate should be applied again at the end of June, using one hundred pounds to the acre. Such fertilizers are to be preferred to stable manures, as they are less offensive, require less labor to apply, and are free of weed seeds.
It is possible sometimes to renovate a wornout lawn without entirely remaking, by top dressing with a compost consisting of equal parts of soil and manure, to which about ten per cent. of tankage has been added. Such a top dressing is recommended also for lawns made on shallow soils.
In the Southern States it is quite impossible to establish a permanent greensward that will look well at all seasons. The only grass that will succeed with any degree of satisfaction is the Bermuda Grass (Capriola dactylon). This grass dies to the ground in the Winter, but is good during the Spring, Summer and early Autumn. Lawns of this grass are made by cutting up the roots of old plants and setting the small tufts of root about twelve inches apart, mulching with well rotted manure. For Winter effect on terraces or lawn close to the house English perennial Rye may be sown.
Fig. 15. - "The ideal location is one where the ground slopes away from the house on all four sides." - See page 20.
Fig. 77. - "In addition to a suitable background, it is essential that the residence be properly framed by plantations at both ends." It is not always advisable to plant the trees directly at the ends of the building. Usually a point forward of the front line gives a better effect. The base plantings of broad-leaved evergreens are effective at all times of the year. - See pages 80 and 85.