Lawns - Seed Mixtures For Special Purposes
( Originally Published 1906 )
FROM the statements made in the foregoing chapter it will be seen that no one grass, nor one combination of several grasses, is equally adapted for all soils and all situations. It is doubtful indeed whether one mixture can be given for exact results on the same sort of soil in different situations; but practically these minute differences need not cause any concern. The object throughout the Eastern States is to establish the Kentucky blue grass wherever it will succeed; and the prime reason for adding other grasses is to cover the ground before the Kentucky blue grass has become established, and therefore to occupy the ground to the exclusion of weeds. There is, however, another very essential service rendered by these extra grasses: the fact that the Kentucky blue grass does not carpet the ground as closely and as low down as some of the others makes it desirable to employ one of them to give a green appearance to the lawn immediately after cutting. Yet another point is this: that mixtures result in a denser turf at an early date because curiously enough more grasses will grow to a given area if there is a mixture of various species than would be the case were one grass alone used.
A PRACTICAL FORMULA
A thoroughly practical formula that has been tried on soils of average fertility and composition, and which has given thorough satisfaction is as follows :
Kentucky blue 10 quarts
This is a crude, although reliable mixture. Indeed it may be called a lawn mixture reduced to its simplest elements. The quantities given in quarts are based on thoroughly recleaned seed.
A more refined mixture, including a fancy red top for filling in during the early years of the lawn and after the English rye has lived its life, is as follows :
Fancy Kentucky blue grass 10 lbs.
This is expressed in weight and may be used as a fair basis of comparison with the preceding formula which is expressed in bulk. This mixture would give twenty pounds to the bushel, and would be sufficient for one fifth of an acre, say about 8,000 square feet. Fancy seed is specified in the formula both as regards the blue grass and the red top. The twenty pounds weight of this mixture, though designated by trade practice as a bushel, would not fill the actual measured bushel.
ADAPTING TO PECULIAR CONDITIONS
This formula can be adapted to special purposes by substituting any one of the special grasses, according to the particular requirements, for equal weight of blue grass. Thus the wood meadow grass could be used in the pro-portion of two to three pounds where it became necessary to seed a space that was shaded by trees, Kentucky blue grass being reduced to 7 pounds. By referring to the table on page 163 a list of substitute grasses will be seen, and notes are given as to their special characteristics and purposes. The following are formulas that have long been popular:
Mixture for Shaded Places
Kentucky blue grass 40 per cent.
Mixture for Terrace and Slopes
Creeping bent (or Rhode Island bent) 40 per cent.
The purpose here is to secure quick-growing, deep-rooting grasses that will bind the soil until such time as the permanent grasses are in possession. Also some consideration should be given to the fact that such situations may be either extremely dry or at times abnormally wet.
Mixture for Putting Green
Crested dog's tail 30 per cent.
The essential quality here is a mixture of grasses that will give a dense short turf which can be kept closely cropped and will stand a great deal of trampling. For this reason the blue grass and clover are inadmissible.
Mixture for the Fair Green
Red top 35 per cent.
Much coarser growing grasses can be admitted here than are desirable for the putting green. The grass will not be cut so frequently and there is no objection to a certain amount of coarse vigorous growth. Cheaper grasses can be used in quantity.
Mixture for Sandy Soils
Kentucky blue grass 25 per cent.
Sandy soils are usually dry without much bottom, and to establish a lawn requires quickly growing binding grasses which will withstand drought. If the sand is acid Kentucky blue grass cannot be counted upon to succeed unless that condition can be corrected by dressings of lime.
Mixture for Seaside Lawns
Colonial (Rhode Island) bent 30 per cent.
Usually there is considerable difficulty in establishing Kentucky blue grass in maritime regions. There is a good field for progressive work in introducing suitable grasses for lawns on the sea coast. At the present time the chief reliance is on some of the species of Agrostis or bent grasses. This mixture should result in a substantial lawn on any sort of soil. The beach grass will take a hold where the blue grass fails, but it is, generally, not a desirable lawn grass.
Mixture for Clay Soils
Kentucky blue grass 50 per cent.
Generally with very little preparation, so as to improve the physical condition and drainage, these soils will maintain excellent blue grass lawns. The rye grass recommended gives the early quick result, the red top makes a bottom grass, and the blue grass is the permanent feature.
Mixture for Wet and Bottom Lands
Kentucky blue grass 30 per cent.
Of course grasses that are particularly adapted to sandy soils must be omitted here. Fortunately Kentucky blue grass will thrive on moist soils, and should form a very large percentage of the mixture. In order to keep out the weeds a fair percentage of the quickly growing rye grass is included. The rough stalk meadow grass is essentially a wet land grass and will thrive nowhere else.
Mixture for Hill Tops
Kentucky blue grass 40 per cent.
To a certain extent the same grasses as are recommended for terrace mixture may be used on hill tops, provided the situation has a good soil and does not become unduly dry. Rapidly creeping, binding grasses are essential, and white clover should never be omitted because it will make a quick growth and carpet the ground in places where the grasses fail to make a stand.
SPECIAL NOTES OF INTEREST
These formulas are expressed in percentages by weight in order that the reader may gain some graphic idea of the relationships of the various grasses.
It is assumed that thoroughly recleaned fancy grades may be used throughout. There is no use whatever buying the lower grade samples which may be fifty per cent. chaff.
Clover is not included in all the foregoing formulas but may be added if fancy dictates, and it had better be sown separately, after the grass seeds, because, being a heavy seed, it is likely to settle to the bottom of the mixture.
These formulas are in every case merely suggestive and in practice can possibly be modified in every case to the great advantage of all concerned. There is no such thing as a universally best mixture. A comparison of the foregoing formulas with the following table and the exercise of common sense will yield more satisfactory results than the strict adherence to the printed text.
The very identities of the grasses used to supply the calls for certain "popular" or "common" names change as supplies of one species give out and others come in to take their places. But that is of no moment outside dealers' relations. Present accepted standards are indicated by the tables.