The season for making a lawn varies with the kind of a lawn which is desired, and also with the season of the year when the lawn is to be used. Especially in the far southern states, some lawns may be intended for use and enjoyment throughout the entire year, while another group of lawns may be intended to be at their best during the winter months.
With the lawn developed from Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass the period required for the development of a good turf averages from three months to four months. Therefore, if a lawn of this type is to be developed as a lawn to be maintained throughout the entire year the Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass can be planted at any time. The ideal time just prior to the rainy season in June or July should be selected so that the roots of this grass can have the benefit of the heavy rains. If a lawn of this character is to be developed as an asset to a distinctly winter home, and artificial watering conditions are immediately available, the Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass can be planted at any time during the growing season. It is not advisable to plant either of these grasses during the winter months from December to February when temperature conditions are apt to be so low that growth is not encouraged. On the other hand, Italian rye, which is distinctly a grass for winter lawns, cannot be seeded to advantage in the summer months from April to October.
Lawns composed of Italian rye may be seeded at any time of the year from the first of November to the first of March. The time required for Italian rye to establish itself, and to produce a green lawn area, averages from three to five weeks. An excellent way in which to obtain a green lawn during the winter months is to seed a Bermuda grass lawn, which is at least three months old, with Italian rye at the rate of one pound for every one hundred square feet. In the middle and southern portions of Florida this is perhaps the most satisfactory method of making a good turf which will be more or less firm and which will be green through the winter months. Italian rye will burn out as soon as the weather begins to get warmer during the middle or latter part of March, and can be reseeded on the foundation of Bermuda grass, in the same manner, during the succeeding fall.
Lawns composed of the northern mixtures of grass seed, of which the Ross's Southern Mixture is typical, can be seeded at any time during the cooler months between November and March. These lawns may be maintained in the same manner that any northern lawn is maintained if an excessive amount of care in watering is devoted to them during the hot summer months. It is preferable to reseed each season. This type of lawn is prepared and seeded in a manner similar to the lawns of the north and will establish itself under normal conditions in a period ranging from four to six weeks. This seed is sown at the rate of one pound for each two hundred square feet of lawn area. The operation of seeding lawns with mixtures of northern seed adapted for southern use, and also with Italian rye, is the same as sowing seed for the development of lawns in the north.
It is not advisable to try to develop Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass lawns through seeding. A better lawn can be obtained with less difficulty by planting small clumps of Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass (Plate VIII) in little drills ten inches or twelve inches apart or by staggering at intervals of twelve inches to eighteen inches. The greater the desire to have a close mat of Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass the closer should the individual roots be planted. For small lawn areas, tees and greens on golf courses where the time is short in which to develop a good turf, these roots or clumps may be planted as close as six inches from each other. The usual method is to find a patch already growing. The best method of gathering Bermuda grass is to dig underneath the roots with a grub axe or mattock and to gather up the roots with some type of a fork, such as a potato fork. As much soil as possible should be taken up with the roots, where the grass is naturally in rich, fertile soil; otherwise the soil can be shaken from the roots. The best method of handling these roots is to place the entire mass in potato sacks, especially if the source of gathering the grass is at a considerable distance from the place where the lawn is being made. Just previous to planting, the grass should be either torn apart leaving roots and tops on the same stem, or it should be chopped into small sections. The first method is preferable. These sections of roots or small clumps are planted from three to six inches deep; more shallow if the soil is moist. Shallow planting should be adopted only where ideal conditions exist for keeping the soil moist. It requires approximately three cubic yards of these roots to plant one acre of lawn. If the roots are contained in two and one half bushel sacks it will require from one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty of these sacks filled with Bermuda grass roots to plant one acre of lawn, or approximately one sack for each two hundred and twenty-five square feet. These roots of Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass should not be permitted to dry out, either while piled waiting for shipment or while in transit to the place where the lawn is being made. Injury from the drying out of the roots of these plants between the time they are dug and the time they are planted is not nearly so serious as the injury caused by heating or sweating while the plants are still in the sacks. If these plants are allowed to heat or sweat they immediately turn yellow, begin to rot and die. Any plants that have been subjected to this heating or sweating process should not be planted. If the lawn which is to be developed is large, then a simple method of planting these grasses is to spread them broadcast over the ground and to disc the roots in with a harrow, or to plow a shallow furrow and plant the roots in the furrows. The discing process has sometimes proved a failure. It requires approximately twice as much grass and roots as the planting in furrows, in order to get the same stand of grass. It is a process, however, which can well be adopted where an immediate even stand of grass is not essential. This is true because in the process of planting in furrows the grass can be more evenly distributed at a shallow depth while in the discing process most of the grass finds itself at a considerable depth, thus requiring more time for the grass to reach the surface.
Plate X. Trees are given winter protection both against injury from sun-scald and against injury from severe wind and changing temperature conditions. This photograph shows one method of protecting hemlocks against the sun's rays. (See page 105)
Plate XI. The list of evergreens adapted to soil and to climatic conditions of the middle-west, and valuable for low, refined, mass plantings is limited. The upper photograph shows an effect produced by the use of dwarf yew, Pfitzers and tamarisk-leaved junipers, Mugho pines and Japanese spurge edging. The lower photograph shows the effectiveness of masses of low, refined evergreens against massive architecture. (See page 114)
The Italian rye lasts only during one season. The Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass will make a lawn nearly as permanent as any northern lawn, provided the proper maintenance and attention in rolling and watering is given. Lawns of these types should be watered at least once in ten days or two weeks, at which intervals they should be thoroughly soaked. In order to maintain a Bermuda grass lawn in its best condition the lawn should go through the process of renovation every second or third year. This process consists of a discing, done for the purpose of cutting the roots and producing new stoloniferous growth. The harrow should be permitted to cut this ground to a considerable depth, so as to encourage new root growth as well as a deeper root growth. Probably the average depth which the harrow cuts approximates from two to four inches. The ideal harrow for this purpose is known as the alfalfa renovator which is used for the purpose of cutting a deep furrow into the soil rather than disturbing the soil.
If the lawn area is composed of a combination of Bermuda grass and Italian rye, or of a southern mixture of northern grass seed, it should be thoroughly soaked with water as often as once every two days. Superficial watering under conditions of hot sun and dry climate is more injurious to the southern lawn than a similar watering would be to a northern lawn. Where an excellent lawn turf is desired from November to April, it is much preferable to top dress the Bermuda grass foundation with a thin coating of muck, or rich soil, and to seed each fall with Italian rye as a filler. If a lawn of northern grasses is to be maintained from November to April, experience to date has taught us that the most practical method is that of reseeding the entire lawn area during the middle or latter part of October, or early November, rather than to expend the labour necessary to maintain a turf during the hot summer months when it is not used.