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Manual of Gardening (Second Edition)
L. H. Bailey
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Title: Manual of Gardening (Second Edition)
Author: L. H. Bailey
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[Illustration: I. The open center.]
It has been my desire to reconstruct the two books, "Garden-Making" and
"Practical Garden-Book"; but inasmuch as these books have found a
constituency in their present form, it has seemed best to let them stand
as they are and to continue their publication as long as the demand
maintains itself, and to prepare a new work on gardening. This new work
I now offer as "A Manual of Gardening." It is a combination and revision
of the main parts of the other two books, together with much new
material and the results of the experience of ten added years.
A book of this kind cannot be drawn wholly from one's own practice,
unless it is designed to have a very restricted and local application.
Many of the best suggestions in such a book will have come from
correspondents, questioners, and those who enjoy talking about gardens;
and my situation has been such that these communications have come to me
freely. I have always tried, however, to test all such suggestions by
experience and to make them my own before offering them to my reader. I
must express my special obligation to those persons who collaborated in
the preparation of the other two books, and whose contributions have
been freely used in this one: to C.E. Hunn, a gardener of long
experience; Professor Ernest Walker, reared as a commercial florist;
Professor L.R. Taft and Professor F.A. Waugh, well known for their
studies and writings in horticultural subjects.
In making this book, I have had constantly in mind the home-maker
himself or herself rather than the professional gardener. It is of the
greatest importance that we attach many persons to the land; and I am
convinced that an interest in gardening will naturally take the place of
many desires that are much more difficult to gratify, and that lie
beyond the reach of the average man or woman.
It has been my good fortune to have seen amateur and commercial
gardening in all parts of the United States, and I have tried to express
something of this generality in the book; yet my experience, as well as
that of my original collaborators, is of the northeastern states, and
the book is therefore necessarily written from this region as a base.
One gardening book cannot be made to apply in its practice in all parts
of the United States and Canada unless its instructions are so general
as to be practically useless; but the principles and points of view may
have wider application. While I have tried to give only the soundest and
most tested advice, I cannot hope to have escaped errors and
shortcomings, and I shall be grateful to my reader if he will advise me
of mistakes or faults that he may discover. I shall expect to use such
information in the making of subsequent editions.
Of course an author cannot hold himself responsible for failures that
his reader may suffer. The statements in a book of this kind are in the
nature of advice, and it may or it may not apply in particular
conditions, and the success or failure is the result mostly of the
judgment and carefulness of the operator. I hope that no reader of a
gardening book will ever conceive the idea that reading a book and
following it literally will make him a gardener. He must always assume
his own risks, and this will be the first step in his personal progress.
I should explain that the botanical nomenclature of this book is that of
the "Cyclopedia of American Horticulture," unless otherwise stated. The
exceptions are the "trade names," or those used by nurserymen and
seedsmen in the sale of their stock.
I should further explain the reason for omitting ligatures and using
such words as peony, spirea, dracena, cobea. As technical Latin
formularies, the compounds must of course be retained, as in _Paeonia
officinali,_ _Spiraea Thunbergi,_ _Dracaena fragrans,_ _Coboea
scandens;_ but as Anglicized words of common speech it is time to follow
the custom of general literature, in which the combinations ae and oe
have disappeared. This simplification was begun in the "Cyclopedia of
American Horticulture" and has been continued in other writings.
ITHACA, NEW YORK, January 20, 1910.
_What a garden is_
_The plan of the grounds_
_The picture in the landscape_
_Birds; and cats_
_The planting is part of the design or picture_
_The flower-growing should be part of the design_
Defects in flower-growing
Lawn flower-beds
The old-fashioned garden
Contents of the flower-borders
_The value of plants may lie in foliage and form rather than in bloom_
Odd and formal trees
Poplars and the like
_Various specific examples_
An example
Another example
A third example
A small back yard
A city lot
General remarks
_The grading_
_The terrace_
_The bounding lines_
_Walks and drives_
The question of drainage, curbing, and gutters
The materials
_Making the borders_
_Making the lawn_
Preparing the ground
The kind of grass
When and how to sow the seed
Securing a firm sod
The mowing
Fall treatment
Spring treatment
Watering lawns
Sodding the lawn
A combination of sodding and seeding
Sowing with sod
Other ground covers
_The draining of the land_
_Trenching and subsoiling_
_Preparation of the surface_
_The saving of moisture_
_Hand tools for weeding and subsequent tillage and other hand work_
The hoe
Trowels and their kind
_Enriching the land_
_Sowing the seeds_
_Propagating by cuttings_
Dormant stem-cuttings
Cuttings of roots
Green cuttings
Cuttings of leaves
General treatment
_Transplanting young seedlings_
_Transplanting established plants and trees_
When to transplant
Depth to transplant
Making the rows straight
Cutting-back; filling
Removing very large trees
_Winter protection of plants_
_Tree surgery and protection_
Tree guards
Mice and rabbits
Girdled trees
Repairing street trees
_The grafting of plants_
_Keeping records of the plantation_
_The storing of fruits and vegetables_
_The forcing of plants_
Management of hotbeds
_Screens and covers_
_Soaking tubers and seeds_
_Insecticide spraying formulas_
_Fungicide spraying formulas_
_Treatment for some of the common insects_
_Treatment for some of the common plant diseases_
_Planting for immediate effect_
_The use of "foliage" trees and shrubs_
_Windbreaks and screens_
_The making of hedges_
_The borders_
_The flower-beds_
Bedding effects
Plants for subtropical effects
_Aquatic and bog plants_
_Rockeries and alpine plants_
_Lists for carpet-beds_
_List of annuals by color of flowers_
_Useful annuals for edgings of beds and walks, and for ribbon-beds_
_Annuals that continue to bloom after frost_
_List of annuals suitable for bedding_ (_that is, for
"mass-effects" of color_)
_List of annuals by height_
_Distances for planting annuals_
_Perennial herbs suitable for lawn and "planting" effects_
_A brief seasonal flower-garden or border list of herbaceous perennials_
_One hundred extra-hardy perennial herbs_
_Fall-planted bulbs_
_List of outdoor fall-planted bulbs for the North_
_Winter bulbs_
_Summer bulbs_
_List of shrubbery plants for the North_
_Shrubs for the South_
_Annual herbaceous climbers_
_Perennial herbaceous climbers_
_Woody perennial climbers_
_Climbing roses_
_List of hardy deciduous trees for the North_
_Non-coniferous trees for the South_
_List of shrubby conifers_
_Arboreous conifers_
_Conifers for the South_
_The window-box for outside effect_
_The inside window-garden, or "house plants"_
_Bulbs in the window-garden_
_Watering house plants_
_Hanging baskets_
century plants;
iris; lily;
sweet pea;
wax plant.
_Dwarf fruit-trees_
_Age and size of trees_
_Thinning the fruit_
_Washing and scrubbing the trees_
_Gathering and keeping fruit_
_Vegetables for six_
_The classes of vegetables_
_The culture of the leading vegetables_
brussels sprouts;
corn salad;
turnips and rutabagas;
SEASONAL REMINDERS For the North For the South
I. The open center.
II. The plan of the place.
III. Open-center treatment in a semi-tropical country.
IV. Subtropical bedding against a building. Caladiums, cannas,
abutilons, permanent rhododendrons, and other large stuff, with tuberous
begonias and balsams between.
V. A subtropical bed. Center of cannas, with border of _Pennisetum
longistylum_ (a grass) started in late February or early March.
VI. A tree that gives character to a place.
VII. Bedding with palms. If a bricked-up pit is made about the porch,
pot palms may be plunged in it in spring and tub conifers in winter; and
fall bulbs in tin cans (so that the receptacles will not split with
frost) may be plunged among the evergreens.
VIII. A well-planted entrance. Common trees and bushes, with Boston ivy.
on the post, and _Berberis Thunbergii_ in front.
IX. A rocky bank covered with permanent informal planting.
X. A shallow lawn pond, containing water-lilies, variegated sweet flag,
iris, and subtropical bedding at the rear; fountain covered with
parrot's feather (_Myriophyllum proserpinacoides_).
XI. A back yard with summer house, and gardens beyond.
XII. A back yard with heavy flower-garden planting.
XIII. The pageant of summer. Gardens of C.W. Dowdeswell, England, from a
painting by Miss Parsons.
XIV. Virginia creeper screen, on an old fence, with wall-flowers and
hollyhocks in front.
XV. Scuppernong grape, the arbor vine of the South. This plate shows the
noted scuppernongs on Roanoke Island, of which the origin is unknown,
but which were of great size more than one hundred years ago.
XVI. A flower-garden of China asters, with border of one of the dusty
millers (_Centaurea_).
XVII. The peony. One of the most steadfast of garden flowers.
XVIII. Cornflower or bachelor's button. _Centaurea Cyanus._
XIX. Pyracantha in fruit. One of the best ornamental-fruited plants for
the middle and milder latitudes.
XX. A simple but effective window-box, containing geraniums, petunias,
verbenas, heliotrope, and vines.
XXI. The king of fruits. Newtown as grown in the Pacific country.
XXII. Wall-training of a pear tree.
XXIII. Cherry currant.
XXIV. Golden Bantam sweet corn.
XXV. The garden radish, grown in fall, of the usual spring sorts.
Wherever there is soil, plants grow and produce their kind, and all
plants are interesting; when a person makes a choice as to what plants
he shall grow in any given place, he becomes a gardener or a farmer; and
if the conditions are such that he cannot make a choice, he may adopt
the plants that grow there by nature, and by making the most of them may
still be a gardener or a farmer in some degree.
Every family, therefore, may have a garden. If there is not a foot of
land, there are porches or windows. Wherever there is sunlight, plants
may be made to grow; and one plant in a tin-can may be a more helpful
and inspiring garden to some mind than a whole acre of lawn and flowers
may be to another.
The satisfaction of a garden does not depend on the area, nor, happily,
on the cost or rarity of the plants. It depends on the temper of the
person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to
cultivate the happy peace of mind that is satisfied with little.
In the vast majority of cases a person will be happier if he has no
rigid and arbitrary notions, for gardens are moodish, particularly with
the novice. If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the
plants that thrive chance not to be the ones that he planted, they are
plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them.
We are wont to covet the things that we cannot have; but we are happier
when we love the things that grow because they must. A patch of lusty
pigweeds, growing and crowding in luxuriant abandon, may be a better and
more worthy object of affection than a bed of coleuses in which every
spark of life and spirit and individuality has been sheared out and
suppressed. The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions
in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions. Each
blossom is worth more than a gold coin, as it shines in the exuberant
sunlight of the growing spring, and attracts the insects to its bosom.
Little children like the dandelions: why may not we? Love the things
nearest at hand; and love intensely. If I were to write a motto over the
gate of a garden, I should choose the remark that Socrates is said to
have made as he saw the luxuries in the market, "How much there is in
the world that I do not want!"
I verily believe that this paragraph I have just written is worth more
than all the advice with which I intend to cram the succeeding pages,
notwithstanding the fact that I have most assiduously extracted this
advice from various worthy but, happily, long-forgotten authors.
Happiness is a quality of a person, not of a plant or a garden; and the
anticipation of joy in the writing of a book may be the reason why so
many books on garden-making have been written. Of course, all these
books have been good and useful. It would be ungrateful, at the least,
for the present writer to say otherwise; but books grow old, and the
advice becomes too familiar. The sentences need to be transposed and the
order of the chapters varied, now and then, or interest lags. Or, to
speak plainly, a new book of advice on handicraft is needed in every
decade, or perhaps oftener in these days of many publishers. There has
been a long and worthy procession of these handbooks,--Gardiner &
Hepburn, M'Mahon, Cobbett--original, pungent, versatile
Cobbett!--Fessenden, Squibb, Bridgeman, Sayers, Buist, and a dozen
more, each one a little richer because the others had been written. But
even the fact that all books pass into oblivion does not deter another
hand from making still another venture.
[Illustration: Fig. 1. The ornamental burdock]
I expect, then, that every person who reads this book will make a
garden, or will try to make one; but if only tares grow where roses are
desired, I must remind the reader that at the outset I advised pigweeds.
The book, therefore, will suit everybody,--the experienced gardener,
because it will be a repetition of what he already knows; and the
novice, because it will apply as well to a garden of burdocks as
of onions.
* * * * *
_What a garden is._
A garden is the personal part of an estate, the area that is most
intimately associated with the private life of the home. Originally, the
garden was the area inside the inclosure or lines of fortification, in
distinction from the unprotected area or fields that lay beyond; and
this latter area was the particular domain of agriculture. This book
understands the garden to be that part of the personal or home premises
devoted to ornament, and to the growing of vegetables and fruits. The
garden, therefore, is an ill-defined demesne; but the reader must not
make the mistake of defining it by dimensions, for one may have a garden
in a flower-pot or on a thousand acres. In other words, this book
declares that every bit of land that is not used for buildings, walks,
drives, and fences, should be planted. What we shall plant--whether
sward, lilacs, thistles, cabbages, pears, chrysanthemums, or
tomatoes--we shall talk about as we proceed.
The only way to keep land perfectly unproductive is to keep it moving.
The moment the owner lets it alone, the planting has begun. In my own
garden, this first planting is of pigweeds. These may be followed, the
next year, by ragweeds, then by docks and thistles, with here and there
a start of clover and grass; and it all ends in June-grass and
Nature does not allow the land to remain bare and idle. Even the banks
where plaster and lath were dumped two or three years ago are now
luxuriant with burdocks and sweet clover; and yet persons who pass those
dumps every day say that they can grow nothing in their own yard because
the soil is so poor! Yet I venture that those same persons furnish most
of the pigweed seed that I use on my garden.
The lesson is that there is no soil--where a house would be built--so
poor that something worth while cannot be grown on it. If burdocks will
grow, something else will grow; or if nothing else will grow, then I
prefer burdocks to sand and rubbish.
The burdock is one of the most striking and decorative of plants, and a
good piece of it against a building or on a rough bank is just as useful
as many plants that cost money and are difficult to grow. I had a good
clump of burdock under my study window, and it was a great comfort; but
the man would persist in wanting to cut it down when he mowed the lawn.
When I remonstrated, he declared that it was nothing but burdock; but I
insisted that, so far from being burdock, it was really Lappa major,
since which time the plant and its offspring have enjoyed his utmost
respect. And I find that most of my friends reserve their appreciation
of a plant until they have learned its name and its family connections.
The dump-place that I mentioned has a surface area of nearly one hundred
and fifty square feet, and I find that it has grown over two hundred
good plants of one kind or another this year. This is more than my
gardener accomplished on an equal area, with manure and water and a man
to help. The difference was that the plants on the dump wanted to grow,
and the imported plants in the garden did not want to grow. It was the
difference between a willing horse and a balky horse. If a person wants
to show his skill, he may choose the balky plant; but if he wants fun
and comfort in gardening, he would better choose the willing one.
I have never been able to find out when the burdocks and mustard were
planted on the dump; and I am sure that they were never hoed or watered.
Nature practices a wonderfully rigid economy. For nearly half the summer
she even refused rain to the plants, but still they thrived; yet I staid
home from a vacation one summer that I might keep my plants from dying.
I have since learned that if the plants in my hardy borders cannot take
care of themselves for a time, they are little comfort to me.
The joy of garden-making lies in the mental attitude and in the
Having now discussed the most essential elements of gardening, we may
give attention to such minor features as the actual way in which a
satisfying garden is to be planned and executed.
Speaking broadly, a person will get from a garden what he puts into it;
and it is of the first importance, therefore, that a clear conception of
the work be formulated at the outset. I do not mean to say that the
garden will always turn out what it was desired that it should be; but
the failure to turn out properly is usually some fault in the first plan
or some neglect in execution.
Sometimes the disappointment in an ornamental garden is a result of
confusion of ideas as to what a garden is for. One of my friends was
greatly disappointed on returning to his garden early in September to
find that it was not so full and floriferous as when he left it in July.
He had not learned the simple lesson that even a flower-garden should
exhibit the natural progress of the season. If the garden begins to show
ragged places and to decline in late August or early September, it is
what occurs in all surrounding vegetation. The year is maturing. The
garden ought to express the feeling of the different months. The failing
leaves and expended plants are therefore to be looked on, to some extent
at least, as the natural order and destiny of a good garden.
These attributes are well exhibited in the vegetable-garden. In the
spring, the vegetable-garden is a model of neatness and precision. The
rows are straight. There are no missing plants. The earth is mellow and
fresh. Weeds are absent. One takes his friends to the garden, and he
makes pictures of it. By late June or early July, the plants have begun
to sprawl and to get out of shape. The bugs have taken some of them. The
rows are no longer trim and precise. The earth is hot and dry. The weeds
are making headway. By August and September, the garden has lost its
early regularity and freshness. The camera is put aside. The visitors
are not taken to it: the gardener prefers to go alone to find the melon
or the tomatoes, and he comes away as soon as he has secured his
product. Now, as a matter of fact, the garden has been going through its
regular seasonal growth. It is natural that it become ragged. It is not
necessary that weeds conquer it; but I suspect that it would be a very
poor garden, and certainly an uninteresting one, if it retained the
dress of childhood at the time when it should develop the
personalities of age.
There are two types of outdoor gardening in which the progress of the
season is not definitely expressed,--in the carpet-bedding kind, and in
the subtropical kind. I hope that my reader will get a clear distinction
in these matters, for it is exceedingly important. The carpet-bedding
gardening is the making of figure-beds in house-leeks and achyranthes
and coleus and sanitalia, and other things that can be grown in compact
masses and possibly sheared to keep them within place and bounds; the
reader sees these beds in perfection in some of the parks and about
florists' establishments; he will understand at once that they are not
meant in any way to express the season, for the difference between them
in September and June is only that they may be more perfect in
September. The subtropical gardening (plates IV and V) is the planting
out of house-grown stuff, in order to produce given effects, of such
plants as palms, dracenas, crotons, caladiums, papyrus, together with
such luxuriant things as dahlias and cannas and large ornamental
grasses and castor beans; these plants are to produce effects quite
foreign to the expression of a northern landscape, and they are usually
at their best and are most luxuriant when overtaken by the fall frosts.
Now, the home gardener usually relies on plants that more or less come
and go with the seasons. He pieces out and extends the season, to be
sure; but a garden with pansies, pinks, sweet william, roses, sweet
peas, petunias, marigolds, salpiglossis, sweet sultan, poppies, zinnias,
asters, cosmos, and the rest, is a progress-of-the-season garden,
nevertheless; and if it is a garden of herbaceous perennials, it still
more completely expresses the time-of-year.
My reader will now consider, perhaps, whether he would have his garden
accent and heighten his natural year from spring to fall, or whether he
desires to thrust into his year a feeling of another order of
vegetation. Either is allowable; but the gardener should distinguish at
the outset.
I wish to suggest to my reader, also, that it is possible for the garden
to retain some interest even in the winter months. I sometimes question
whether it is altogether wise to clear out the old garden stems too
completely and too smoothly in the fall, and thereby obliterate every
mark of it for the winter months; but however this may be, there are two
ways by which the garden year may be extended: by planting things that
bloom very late in fall and others that bloom very early in spring; by
using freely, in the backgrounds, of bushes and trees that have
interesting winter characters.
* * * * *
_The plan of the grounds_ (see Plate II).
[Illustration II.: The plan of the place. The arrangement of the
property (which is in New York) is determined by an existing woodland to
the left or southeast of the house and a natural opening to the
southwest of the house. The house is colonial, and the entire treatment
is one of considerable simplicity. Wild or woodland gardens have been
developed to the right and left of the entrance, the latter or entrance
lawns being left severely simple and plain in their treatment. To the
rear of the house a turf terrace raised three steps above the general
grade of the lawn leads to a general lawn terminated by a small garden
exedra or teahouse with a fountain in its center, and to two shrub
gardens forming interesting and closed pockets of lawn. The stable and
vegetable gardens are located to the south of the house in a natural
opening in the woodland. The design is made by a professional landscape
One cannot expect satisfaction in the planting and developing of a home
area unless he has a clear conception of what is to be done. This
necessarily follows, since the pleasure that one derives from any
enterprise depends chiefly on the definiteness of his ideals and his
ability to develop them. The homemaker should develop his plan before
he attempts to develop his place. He must study the various subdivisions
in order that the premises may meet all his needs. He should determine
the locations of the leading features of the place and the relative
importance to be given to the various parts of it,--as of the landscape
parts, the ornamental areas, the vegetable-garden, and the fruit
The details of the planting may be determined in part as the place
develops; it is only the structural features and purposes that need to
be determined beforehand in most small properties. The incidental
modifications that may be made in the planting from time to time keep
the interest alive and allow the planter to gratify his desire to
experiment with new plants and new methods.
It must be understood that I am now speaking of ordinary home grounds
which the home-maker desires to improve by himself. If the area is large
enough to present distinct landscape features, it is always best to
employ a landscape architect of recognized merit, in the same spirit
that one would employ an architect. The details, however, may even then
be filled in by the owner, if he is so inclined, following out the plan
that the landscape architect makes.
It is desirable to have a definite plan on paper (drawn to scale) for
the location of the leading features of the place. These features are
the residence, the out-houses, the walks and drives, the service areas
(as clothes yards), the border planting, flower-garden,
vegetable-garden, and fruit-garden. It should not be expected that the
map plan can be followed in every detail, but it will serve as a general
guide; and if it is made on a large enough scale, the different kinds of
plants can be located in their proper positions, and a record of the
place be kept. It is nearly always unsatisfactory, for both owner and
designer, if a plan of the place is made without a personal inspection
of the area. Lines that look well on a map may not adjust themselves
readily to the varying contours of the place itself, and the location of
the features inside the grounds will depend also in a very large measure
on the objects that lie outside it. For example, all interesting and
bold views should be brought into the place, and all unsightly objects
in the immediate vicinity should be planted out.
[Illustration: Fig. 2. Diagram of a back yard.]
A plan of a back yard of a narrow city lot is given in Fig. 2, showing
the heavy border planting of trees and shrubs, with the skirting border
of flowers. In the front are two large trees, that are desired for
shade. It will readily be seen from this plan how extensive the area for
flowers becomes when they are placed along such a devious border. More
color effect can be got from such an arrangement of the flowers than
could be secured if the whole area were planted to flower-beds.
[Illustration: Fig. 3. Plan of a rough area.]
A contour map plan of a very rough piece of ground is shown in Fig. 3.
The sides of the place are high, and it becomes necessary to carry a
walk through the middle area; and on either side of the front, it skirts
the banks. Such a plan is usually unsightly on paper, but may
nevertheless fit special cases very well. The plan is inserted here for
the purpose of illustrating the fact that a plan that will work on the
ground does not necessarily work on a map.
In charting a place, it is important to locate the points from which the
walks are to start, and at which they are to emerge from the grounds.
These two points are then joined by direct and simple curves; and
alongside the walks, especially in angles or bold curves, planting may
be inserted.
A suggestion for school premises on a four-corners, and which the pupils
enter from three directions, is made in Fig. 4. The two playgrounds are
separated by a broken group of bushes extending from the building to the
rear boundary; but, in general, the spaces are kept open, and the heavy
border-masses clothe the place and make it home-like. The lineal extent
of the group margins is astonishingly large, and along all these margins
flowers may be planted, if desired.
[Illustration: Fig. 4. Suggestion for a school-ground on a
If there is only six feet between a schoolhouse and the fence, there is
still room for a border of shrubs. This border should be between the
walk and the fence,--on the very boundary,--not between the walk and the
building, for in the latter case the planting divides the premises and
weakens the effect. A space two feet wide will allow of an irregular
wall of bushes, if tall buildings do not cut out the light; and if the
area is one hundred feet long, thirty to fifty kinds of shrubs and
flowers can be grown to perfection, and the school-grounds will be
practically no smaller for the plantation.
One cannot make a plan of a place until he knows what he wants to do
with the property; and therefore we may devote the remainder of this
chapter to developing the idea in the layout of the premises rather than
to the details of map-making and planting.
Because I speak of the free treatment of garden spaces in this book it
must not be inferred that any reflection is intended on the "formal"
garden. There are many places in which the formal or "architect's
garden" is much to be desired; but each of these cases should be treated
wholly by itself and be made a part of the architectural setting of the
place. These questions are outside the sphere of this book. All formal
gardens are properly individual studies.
All very special types of garden design are naturally excluded from a
book of this kind, such types, for example, as Japanese gardening.
Persons who desire to develop these specialties will secure the services
of persons who are skilled in them; and there are also books and
magazine articles to which they may go.
* * * * *
_The picture in the landscape._
The deficiency in most home grounds is not so much that there is too
little planting of trees and shrubs as that this planting is
meaningless. Every yard should be a picture. That is, the area should be
set off from other areas, and it should have such a character that the
observer catches its entire effect and purpose without stopping to
analyze its parts. The yard should be one thing, one area, with every
feature contributing its part to one strong and homogeneous effect.
These remarks will become concrete if the reader turns his eye to Figs.
5 and 6. The former represents a common type of planting of front yards.
The bushes and trees are scattered promiscuously over the area. Such a
yard has no purpose, no central idea. It shows plainly that the planter
had no constructive conception, no grasp of any design, and no
appreciation of the fundamental elements of the beauty of landscape.
Its only merit is the fact that trees and shrubs have been planted; and
this, to most minds, comprises the essence and sum of the ornamentation
of grounds. Every tree and bush is an individual alone, unattended,
disconnected from its environments, and, therefore, meaningless. Such a
yard is only a nursery.
[Illustration: Fig 5. The common or nursery way of planting]
[Illustration: Fig. 6. The proper or pictorial type of planting]
The other plan (Fig. 6) is a picture. The eye catches its meaning at
once. The central idea is the residence, with a free and open greensward
in front of it The same trees and bushes that were scattered haphazard
over Fig. 5 are massed into a framework to give effectiveness to the
picture of home and comfort. This style of planting makes a landscape,
even though the area be no larger than a parlor. The other style is only
a collection of curious plants. The one has an instant and abiding
pictorial effect, which is restful and satisfying: the observer
exclaims, "What a beautiful home this is!" The other piques one's
curiosity, obscures the residence, divides and distracts the attention:
the observer exclaims, "What excellent lilac bushes are these!"
An inquiry into the causes of the unlike impressions that one receives
from a given landscape and from a painting of it explains the subject
admirably. One reason why the picture appeals to us more than the
landscape is because the picture is condensed, and the mind becomes
acquainted with its entire purpose at once, while the landscape is so
broad that the individual objects at first fix the attention, and it is
only by a process of synthesis that the unity of the landscape finally
becomes apparent. This is admirably illustrated in photographs. One of
the first surprises that the novice experiences in the use of the camera
is the discovery that very tame scenes become interesting and often even
spirited in the photograph. But there is something more than mere
condensation in this vitalizing and beautifying effect of the photograph
or the painting: individual objects are so much reduced that they no
longer appeal to us as distinct subjects, and however uncouth they may
be in the reality, they make no impression in the picture; the thin and
sere sward may appear rather like a closely shaven lawn or a new-mown
meadow. And again, the picture sets a limit to the scene; it frames it,
and thereby cuts off all extraneous and confusing or irrelevant
These remarks are illustrated in the aesthetics of landscape gardening.
It is the artist's one desire to make pictures in the landscape. This is
done in two ways: by the form of plantations, and by the use of vistas.
He will throw his plantations into such positions that open and yet more
or less confined areas of greensward are presented to the observer at
various points. This picture-like opening is nearly or quite devoid of
small or individual objects, which usually destroy the unity of such
areas and are meaningless in themselves. A vista is a narrow opening or
view between plantations to a distant landscape. It cuts up the broad
horizon into portions that are readily cognizable. It frames parts of
the country-side. The verdurous sides of the planting are the sides of
the frame; the foreground is the bottom, and the sky is the top. It is
of the utmost importance that good views be left or secured from the
best windows of the house (not forgetting the kitchen window); in fact,
the placing of the house may often be determined by the views that may
be appropriated.
If a landscape is a picture, it must have a canvas. This canvas is the
greensward. Upon this, the artist paints with tree and bush and flower
as the painter does upon his canvas with brush and pigments. The
opportunity for artistic composition and design is nowhere so great as
in the landscape garden, because no other art has such a limitless field
for the expression of its emotions. It is not strange, if this be true,
that there have been few great landscape gardeners, and that, falling
short of art, the landscape gardener too often works in the sphere of
the artisan. There can be no rules for landscape gardening, any more
than there can be for painting or sculpture. The operator may be taught
how to hold the brush or strike the chisel or plant the tree, but he
remains an operator; the art is intellectual and emotional and will not
confine itself in precepts.
The making of a good and spacious lawn, then, is the very first
practical consideration in a landscape garden.
The lawn provided, the gardener conceives what is the dominant and
central feature in the place, and then throws the entire premises into
subordination to this feature. In home grounds this central feature is
the house. To scatter trees and bushes over the area defeats the
fundamental purpose of the place,--the purpose to make every part of
the grounds lead up to the home and to accentuate its homelikeness.
A house must have a background if it is to become a home. A house that
stands on a bare plain or hill is a part of the universe, not a part of
a home. Recall the cozy little farm-house that is backed by a wood or an
orchard; then compare some pretentious structure that stands apart from
all planting. Yet how many are the farm-houses that stand as stark and
cold against the sky as if they were competing with the moon! We would
not believe it possible for a man to live in a house twenty-five years
and not, by accident, allow some tree to grow, were it not that it
is so!
Of course these remarks about the lawn are meant for those countries
where greensward is the natural ground cover. In the South and in arid
countries, greensward is not the prevailing feature of the landscape,
and in these regions the landscape design may take on a wholly different
character, if the work is to be nature-like. We have not yet developed
other conceptions of landscape work to any perfect extent, and we inject
the English greensward treatment even into deserts. We may look for the
time when a brown landscape garden may be made in a brown country, and
it may be good art not to attempt a broad open center in regions in
which undergrowth rather than sod is the natural ground cover. In parts
of the United States we are developing a good Spanish-American
architecture, perhaps we may develop a recognized comparable landscape
treatment as an artistic expression.
[Illustration: Fig. 7 A house]
* * * * *
_Birds, and cats_
The picture in the landscape is not complete without birds, and the
birds should comprise more species than English sparrows. If one is to
have birds on his premises, he must (1) attract them and (2)
protect them.
One attracts birds by providing places in which they may nest. The free
border plantings have distinct advantages in attracting chipping
sparrows, catbirds, and other species. The bluebirds, house wrens, and
martins may be attracted by boxes in which they can build.
One may attract birds by feeding them and supplying water. Suet for
woodpeckers and others, grain and crumbs for other kinds, and taking
care not to frighten or molest them, will soon win the confidence of the
birds. A slowly running or dripping fountain, with a good rim on which
they may perch, will also attract them, and it is no mean enjoyment to
watch the birds at bathing. Or, if one does not care to go to the
expense of a bird fountain, he may supply their wants by means of a
shallow dish of water set on the lawn.
[Illustration: Fig. 8 A home]
The birds will need protection from cats. There is no more reason why
cats should roam at will and uncontrolled than that dogs or horses or
poultry should be allowed unlimited license. A cat away from home is a
trespasser and should be so treated. A person has no more right to
inflict a cat on a neighborhood than to inflict a goat or rabbits or any
other nuisance. All persons who keep cats should feel the same
responsibility for them that they feel for other property; and they
should be willing to forfeit their property right when they forfeit
their control. The cats not only destroy birds, but they break the
peace. The caterwauling at night will not be permitted in well-governed
communities any more than the shooting of fire-arms or vicious talking
will be allowed: all night-roaming cats should be gathered in, just as
stray dogs and tramps are provided for.
I do not dislike cats, but I desire to see them kept at home and within
control. If persons say that they cannot keep them on their own
premises, then these persons should not be allowed to have them. A bell
on the cat will prevent it from capturing old birds, and this may answer
a good purpose late in the season; but it will not stop the robbing of
nests or the taking of young birds, and here is where the greatest havoc
is wrought.
It is often asserted that cats must roam in order that rats and mice may
be reduced; but probably few house mice and few rats are got by
wandering cats; and, again, many cats are not mousers. There are other
ways of controlling rats and mice; or if cats are employed for this
purpose, see that they are restricted to the places where the house rats
and mice are to be found.
Many persons like squirrels about the place, but they cannot expect to
have both birds and squirrels unless very special precautions are taken.
The English or house sparrow drives away the native birds, although he
is himself an attractive inhabitant in winter, particularly where native
birds are not resident. The English sparrow should be kept in reduced
numbers. This can be easily accomplished by poisoning them in winter
(when other birds are not endangered) with wheat soaked in strychnine
water. The contents of one of the eighth-ounce vials of strychnine that
may be secured at a drug store is added to sufficient water to cover a
quart of wheat. Let the wheat stand in the poison water twenty-four to
forty-eight hours (but not long enough for the grains to sprout), then
dry the wheat thoroughly. It cannot be distinguished from ordinary
wheat, and sparrows usually eat it freely, particularly if they are in
the habit of eating scattered grain and crumbs. Of course, the greatest
caution must be exercised that in the use of such highly poisonous
materials, accidents do not occur with other animals or with
human beings.
* * * * *
_The planting is part of the design or picture._
If the reader catches the full meaning of these pages, he has acquired
some of the primary conceptions in landscape gardening. The suggestion
will grow upon him day by day; and if he is of an observing turn of
mind, he will find that this simple lesson will revolutionize his habit
of thought respecting the planting of grounds and the beauty of
landscapes. He will see that a bush or flower-bed that is no part of any
general purpose or design--that is, which does not contribute to the
making of a picture--might better never have been planted. For myself, I
would rather have a bare and open pasture than such a yard as that shown
in Fig. 9, even though it contained the choicest plants of every land.
The pasture would at least be plain and restful and unpretentious; but
the yard would be full of effort and fidget.
Reduced to a single expression, all this means that the greatest
artistic value in planting lies in the effect of the mass, and not in
the individual plant. A mass has the greater value because it presents a
much greater range and variety of forms, colors, shades, and textures,
because it has sufficient extent or dimensions to add structural
character to a place, and because its features are so continuous and so
well blended that the mind is not distracted by incidental and
irrelevant ideas. Two pictures will illustrate all this. Figures 10, 11
are pictures of natural copses. The former stretches along a field and
makes a lawn of a bit of meadow which lies in front of it. The landscape
has become so small and so well defined by this bank of verdure that it
has a familiar and personal feeling. The great, bare, open meadows are
too ill-defined and too extended to give any domestic feeling; but here
is a part of the meadow set off into an area that one can compass with
his affections.
[Illustration: Fig. 10 A native fence-row]
[Ilustration: Fig. 11 Birds build their nests here]
[Illustration: Fig. 12. A free-and-easy planting of things wild and
These masses in Figs. 10, 11, and 12 have their own intrinsic merits, as
well as their office in defining a bit of nature. One is attracted by
the freedom of arrangement, the irregularity of sky-line, the bold
bays and promontories, and the infinite play of light and shade. The
observer is interested in each because it has character, or features,
that no other mass in all the world possesses. He knows that the birds
build their nests in the tangle and the rabbits find it a covert.
[Illustration: Fig. 13. An open treatment of a school-ground. More trees
might be placed in the area, if desired.]
Now let the reader turn to Fig. 9, which is a picture of an "improved"
city yard. Here there is no structural outline to the planting, no
defining of the area, no continuous flow of the form and color. Every
bush is what every other one is or may be, and there are hundreds like
them in the same town. The birds shun them. Only the bugs find any
happiness in them. The place has no fundamental design or idea, no lawn
upon which a picture may be constructed. This yard is like a sentence or
a conversation in which every word is equally emphasized.
In bold contrast with this yard is the open-center treatment in Fig. 13.
Here there is pictorial effect; and there is opportunity along the
borders to distribute trees and shrubs that may be desired as individual
The motive that shears the trees also razes the copse, in order that the
gardener or "improver" may show his art. Compare Figs. 14 and 15. Many
persons seem to fear that they will never be known to the world unless
they expend a great amount of muscle or do something emphatic or
spectacular; and their fears are usually well founded.
[Illustration: Fig. 14. A rill much as nature made it.]
[Illustration: Fig. 15. A rill "improved," so that it will not look
"ragged" and unkempt.]
It is not enough that trees and bushes be planted in masses. They must
be kept in masses by letting them grow freely in a natural way. The
pruning-knife is the most inveterate enemy of shrubbery. Pictures 16 and
17 illustrate what I mean. The former represents a good group of bushes
so far as arrangement is concerned; but it has been ruined by the
shears. The attention of the observer is instantly arrested by the
individual bushes. Instead of one free and expressive object, there are
several stiff and expressionless ones. If the observer stops to
consider his own thoughts when he comes upon such a collection, he will
likely find himself counting the bushes; or, at least, he will be making
mental comparisons of the various bushes, and wondering why they are not
all sheared to be exactly alike. Figure 17 shows how the same "artist"
has treated two deutzias and a juniper. Much the same effect could have
been secured, and with much less trouble, by laying two flour barrels
end to end and standing a third one between them.
[Illustration: 16. The making of a good group, but spoiled by the
pruning shears.]
[Illustration: 17. The three guardsmen.]
I must hasten to say that I have not the slightest objection to the
shearing of trees. The only trouble is in calling the practice art and
in putting the trees where people must see them (unless they are part of
a recognized formal-garden design). If the operator simply calls the
business shearing, and puts the things where he and others who like them
may see them, objection could not be raised. Some persons like painted
stones, others iron bulldogs in the front yard and the word "welcome"
worked into the door-mat, and others like barbered trees. So long as
these likes are purely personal, it would seem to be better taste to put
such curiosities in the back yard, where the owner may admire them
without molestation.
[Illustration: Fig. 18 A bit of semi-rustic work built into a native
There is a persistent desire among workmen to shear and to trim: it
displays their industry. It is a great thing to be able to allow the
freedom of nature to remain. The artist often builds his structures into
a native planting (as in Fig. 18) rather than to trust himself to
produce a good result by planting on razed surfaces.
In this discussion, I have tried to enforce the importance of the open
center in non-formal home grounds in greensward regions. Of course this
does not mean that there may not be central planting in particular cases
where the conditions distinctly call for it nor that there may not be
trees on the lawn. If one has the placing of the trees, he may see that
they are not scattered aimlessly; but if good trees are already growing
on the place, it would be folly to think of removing them merely because
they are not in the best ideal positions; in such case, it may be very
necessary to adapt the treatment of the area to the trees. The
home-maker should always consider, also, the planting of a few trees in
such places as to shade and protect the residence: the more closely they
can be made a part of the general design or handling of the place, the
better the results will be.
* * * * *
_The flower-growing should be part of the design._
I do not mean to discourage the use of brilliant flowers and bright
foliage and striking forms of vegetation; but these things are never
primary considerations in a good domain. The structural elements of the
place are designed first. The flanking and bordering masses are then
planted. Finally the flowers and accessories are put in, as a house is
painted after it is built. Flowers appear to best advantage when seen
against a background of foliage, and they are then, also, an integral
part of the picture. The flower-garden, as such, should be at the rear
or side of a place, as all other personal appurtenances are; but flowers
and bright leaves may be freely scattered along the borders and near the
foliage masses.
It is a common saying that many persons have no love or appreciation of
flowers, but it is probably nearer to the truth to say that no person is
wholly lacking in this respect. Even those persons who declare that they
care nothing for flowers are generally deceived by their dislike of
flower-beds and the conventional methods of flower-growing. I know many
persons who stoutly deny any liking for flowers, but who, nevertheless,
are rejoiced with the blossoming of the orchards and the purpling of the
clover fields. The fault may not lie so much with the persons themselves
as with the methods of growing and displaying the flowers.
Defects in flower-growing.
The greatest defect with our flower-growing is the stinginess of it. We
grow our flowers as if they were the choicest rarities, to be coddled in
a hotbed or under a bell-jar, and then to be exhibited as single
specimens in some little pinched and ridiculous hole cut in the turf, or
perched upon an ant-hill that some gardener has laboriously heaped oh a
lawn. Nature, on the other hand, grows many of her flowers in the most
luxurious abandon, and one can pick an armful without offense. She grows
her flowers in earnest, as a man grows a crop of corn. One can revel in
the color and the fragrance and be satisfied.
The next defect with our flower-growing is the flower-bed. Nature has no
time to make flower-bed designs: she is busy growing flowers. And, then,
if she were given to flower-beds, the whole effect would be lost, for
she could no longer be luxurious and wanton, and if a flower were picked
her whole scheme might be upset. Imagine a geranium-bed or a coleus-bed,
with its wonderful "design," set out into a wood or in a free and open
landscape! Even the birds would laugh at it!
What I want to say is that we should grow flowers freely when we make a
flower-garden. We should have enough of them to make the effort worth
the while. I sympathize with the man who likes sunflowers. There are
enough of them to be worth looking at. They fill the eye. Now show this
man ten feet square of pinks or asters, or daisies, all growing free and
easy and he will tell you that he likes them. All this has a particular
application to the farmer, who is often said to dislike flowers. He
grows potatoes and buckwheat and weeds by the acre: two or three unhappy
pinks or geraniums are not enough to make an impression.
Lawn flower-beds.
The easiest way to spoil a good lawn is to put a flower-bed in it; and
the most effective way in which to show off flowers to the least
advantage is to plant them in a bed in the greensward. Flowers need a
background. We do not hang our pictures on fence-posts. If flowers are
to be grown on a lawn, let them be of the hardy kind, which can be
naturalized in the sod and which grow freely in the tall unmown grass;
or else perennials of such nature that they make attractive clumps by
themselves. Lawns should be free and generous, but the more they are cut
up and worried with trivial effects, the smaller and meaner they look.
[Illustration: Fig. 19 Hole-in-the-ground gardening]
But even if we consider these lawn flower-beds wholly apart from their
surroundings, we must admit that they are at best unsatisfactory. It
generally amounts to this, that we have four months of sparse and
downcast vegetation, one month of limp and frost-bitten plants, and
seven months of bare earth (Fig 19) I am not now opposing the
carpet-beds which professional gardeners make in parks and other
museums. I like museums, and some of the carpet-beds and set pieces are
"fearfully and wonderfully made" (see Fig 20) I am directing my remarks
to those humble home-made flower-beds that are so common in lawns of
country and city homes alike. These beds are cut from the good fresh
turf, often in the most fantastic designs, and are filled with such
plants as the women of the place may be able to carry over in cellars or
in the window. The plants themselves may look very well in pots, but
when they are turned out of doors, they have a sorry time for a month
adapting themselves to the sun and winds, and it is generally well on
towards midsummer before they begin to cover the earth. During all these
weeks they have demanded more time and labor than would have been
needed to care for a plantation of much greater size and which would
have given flowers every day from the time the birds began to nest in
the spring until the last robin had flown in November.
[Illustration: 20. Worth paying admittance price to see!]
We should acquire the habit of speaking of the flower-border. The border
planting of which we have spoken sets bounds to the place, and makes it
one's own. The person lives inside his place, not on it. Along these
borders, against groups, often by the corners of the residence or in
front of porches--these are places for flowers. Ten flowers against a
background are more effective than a hundred in the open yard.
[Illustration: Fig. 21 An artist's flower border]
I have asked a professional artist, Mr. Mathews, to draw me the kind of a
flower-bed that he likes. It is shown in Fig. 21. It is a border,--a
strip of land two or three feet wide along a fence. This is the place
where pigweeds usually grow. Here he has planted marigolds, gladiolus,
golden rod, wild asters, China asters, and--best of all--hollyhocks. Any
one would like that flower-garden It has some of that local and
indefinable charm that always attaches to an "old-fashioned garden"
with its medley of form and color Nearly every yard has some such strip
of land along a rear walk or fence or against a building It is the
easiest thing to plant it,--ever so much easier than digging the
characterless geranium bed into the center of an inoffensive lawn. The
suggestions are carried further in 22 to 25.
[Illustration: 22. Petunias against a background of osiers.]
[Illustration: 23. A sowing of flowers along a marginal planting.]
[Illustration: Fig. 24. An open back yard. Flowers may be thrown in
freely along the borders, but they would spoil the lawn if placed in
its center.]
[Illustration: Fig. 25. A flower garden at the rear or one side of the
The old-fashioned garden.
Speaking of the old-fashioned garden recalls one of William Falconer's
excellent paragraphs ("Gardening," November 15, 1897, p. 75): "We tried
it in Schenley Park this year. We needed a handy dumping ground, and hit
on the head of a deep ravine between two woods; into it we dumped
hundreds upon hundreds of wagon loads of rock and clay, filling it near
to the top, then surfaced it with good soil. Here we planted some
shrubs, and broadcast among them set out scarlet poppies,
eschscholtzias, dwarf nasturtiums, snapdragons, pansies, marigolds, and
all manner of hardy herbaceous plants, having enough of each sort to
make a mass of its kind and color, and the effect was fine. In the
middle was a plantation of hundreds of clumps of Japan and German irises
interplanted, thence succeeded by thousands of gladioli, and banded with
montbretias, from which we had flowers till frost. The steep face of
this hill was graded a little and a series of winding stone steps set
into it, making the descent into the hollow quite easy; the stones were
the rough uneven slabs secured in blasting the rocks when grading in
other parts of the park, and both along outer edges of the steps and the
sides of the upper walk a wide belt of moss pink was planted; and the
banks all about were planted with shrubs, vines, wild roses, columbines,
and other plants. More cameras and kodaks were leveled by visitors at
this piece of gardening than at any other spot in the park, and still we
had acres of painted summer beds."
Contents of the flower-borders.
There is no prescribed rule as to what one should put into these
informal flower-borders. Put in them the plants you like. Perhaps the
greater part of them should be perennials that come up of themselves
every spring, and that are hardy and reliable. Wild flowers are
particularly effective. Every one knows that many of the native herbs
of woods and glades are more attractive than some of the most prized
garden flowers. The greater part of these native flowers grow readily in
cultivation, sometimes even in places which, in soil and exposure, are
much unlike their native haunts. Many of them make thickened roots, and
they may be safely transplanted at any time after the flowers have
passed. To most persons the wild flowers are less known than many
exotics that have smaller merit, and the extension of cultivation is
constantly tending to annihilate them. Here, then, in the informal
flower-border, is an opportunity to rescue them. Then one may sow in
freely of easy-growing annuals, as marigolds, China asters, petunias and
phloxes, and sweet peas.
One of the advantages of these borders lying at the boundary is that
they are always ready to receive more plants, unless they are full. That
is, their symmetry is not marred if some plants are pulled out and
others are put in. And if the weeds now and then get a start, very
little harm is done. Such a border half full of weeds is handsomer than
the average hole-in-the-lawn geranium bed. An ample border may receive
wild plants every month in the year when the frost is out of the ground.
Plants are dug in the woods or fields, whenever one is on an excursion,
even if in July. The tops are cut off, the roots kept moist until they
are placed in the border; most of these much-abused plants will grow. To
be sure, one will secure some weeds; but then, the weeds are a part of
the collection! Of course, some plants will resent this treatment, but
the border may be a happy family, and be all the better and more
personal because it is the result of moments of relaxation. Such a
border has something new and interesting every month of the growing
season; and even in the winter the tall clumps of grasses and
aster-stems hold their banners above the snow and are a source of
delight to every frolicsome bevy of snowbirds.
I have spoken of a weedland to suggest how simple and easy a thing it
is to make an attractive mass-plantation. One may make the most of a
rock (Fig. 26) or bank, or other undesirable feature of the place. Dig
up the ground and make it rich, and then set plants in it. You will not
get it to suit you the first year, and perhaps not the second or the
third; you can always pull out plants and put more in. I should not want
a lawn-garden so perfect that I could not change it in some character
each year; I should lose interest in it.
[Illustration: 26. Making the most of a rock.]
It must not be understood that I am speaking only for mixed borders. On
the contrary, it is much better in most cases that each border or bed be
dominated by the expression of one kind of flower or bush. In one place
a person may desire a wild aster effect, or a petunia effect, or a
larkspur effect, or a rhododendron effect; or it may be desirable to run
heavily to strong foliage effects in one direction and to light flower
effects in another. The mixed border is rather more a flower-garden idea
than a landscape idea; when it shall be desirable to emphasize the one
and when the other, cannot be set down in a book.
_The value of plants may lie in foliage and form rather than in bloom._
What kinds of shrubs and flowers to plant is a wholly secondary and
largely a personal consideration. The main plantings are made up of
hardy and vigorous species; then the things that you like are added.
There is endless choice in the species, but the arrangement or
disposition of the plants is far more important than the kinds; and the
foliage and form of the plant are usually of more importance than
its bloom.
The appreciation of foliage effects in the landscape is a higher type of
feeling than the desire for mere color. Flowers are transitory, but
foliage and plant forms are abiding. The common roses have very little
value for landscape planting because the foliage and habit of the
rose-bush are not attractive, the leaves are inveterately attacked by
bugs, and the blossoms are fleeting. Some of the wild roses and the
Japanese _Rosa rugosa,_ however, have distinct merit for mass effects.
Even the common flowers, as marigold, zinnias, and gaillardias, are
interesting as plant forms long before they come into bloom. To many
persons the most satisfying epoch in the garden is that preceding the
bloom, for the habits and stature of the plants are then unobscured. The
early stages of lilies, daffodils, and all perennials are most
interesting; and one never appreciates a garden until he realizes that
this is so.
[Illustration: 27. The plant-form in a perennial salvia.]
Now let the reader, with these suggestions in mind, observe for one week
the plant-forms in the humble herbs that he meets, whether these herbs
are strong garden plants or the striking sculpturing of mulleins,
burdocks, and jimson-weed. Figures 27 to 31 will be suggestive.
[Illustration: 28. Funkia, or day-lily. Where lies the chief
interest,--in the plant-form or in the bloom?]
[Illustration: 29. A large-leaved nicotiana.]
[Illustration: 30. The awkward century plant that has been laboriously
carried over winter year by year in the cellar: compare with other
plants here shown as to its value as a lawn subject.]
Wild bushes are nearly always attractive in form and habit when planted
in borders and groups. They improve in appearance under cultivation
because they are given a better chance to grow. In wild nature there is
such fierce struggle for existence that plants usually grow to few or
single stems, and they are sparse and scraggly in form; but once given
all the room they want and a good soil, they become luxurious, full, and
comely. In most home grounds in the country the body of the planting may
be very effectively composed of bushes taken from the adjacent woods and
fields. The masses may then be enlivened by the addition here and there
of cultivated bushes, and the planting of flowers and herbs about the
borders. It is not essential that one know the names of these wild
bushes, although a knowledge of their botanical kinships will add
greatly to the pleasure of growing them. Neither will they look common
when transferred to the lawn. There are not many persons who know even
the commonest wild bushes intimately, and the things change so much in
looks when removed to rich ground that few home-makers recognize them.
[Illustration: Fig. 31. Making a picture with rhubarb.]
Odd and formal trees.
It is but a corollary of this discussion to say that plants which are
simply odd or grotesque or unusual should be used with the greatest
caution, for they introduce extraneous and jarring effects. They are
little in sympathy with a landscape garden. An artist would not care to
paint an evergreen that is sheared into some grotesque shape. It is only
curious, and shows what a man with plenty of time and long pruning
shears can accomplish. A weeping tree (particularly of a small-growing
species) is usually seen to best advantage when it stands against a
group or mass of foliage (Fig. 32), as a promontory, adding zest and
spirit to the border; it then has relation with the place.
[Illustration: Fig 32. A weeping tree at one side of the grounds and
supported by a background.]
This leads me to speak of the planting of the Lombardy poplar, which may
be taken as a type of the formal tree, and as an illustration of what I
mean to express. Its chief merits to the average planter are the
quickness of its growth and the readiness with which it multiplies by
sprouts. But in the North it is likely to be a short-lived tree, it
suffers from storms, and it has few really useful qualities. It may be
used to some advantage in windbreaks for peach orchards and other
short-lived plantations; but after a few years a screen of Lombardies
begins to fail, and the habit of suckering from the root adds to its
undesirable features. For shade it has little merit, and for timber
none. Persons like it because it is striking, and this, in an artistic
sense, is its gravest fault. It is unlike anything else in our
landscape, and does not fit into our scenery well. A row of Lombardies
along a roadside is like a row of exclamation points!
[Illustration: IV. Subtropical bedding against a building. Caladiums,
cannas, abutilons, permanent rhododendrons, and other large stuff, with
tuberous begonias and balsams between.]
But the Lombardy can often be used to good effect as one factor in a
group of trees, where its spire-like shape, towering above the
surrounding foliage, may lend a spirited charm to the landscape. It
combines well in such groups if it stands in visual nearness to chimneys
or other tall formal objects. Then it gives a sort of architectural
finish and spirit to a group; but the effect is generally lessened, if
not altogether spoiled, in small places, if more than one Lombardy is in
view. One or two specimens may often be used to give vigor to heavy
plantations about low buildings, and the effect is generally best if
they are seen beyond or at the rear of the building. Note the use that
the artist has made of them in the backgrounds in Figs. 12, 13, and 43.
Poplars and the like.
Another defect in common ornamental planting, which is well illustrated
in the use of poplars, is the desire for plants merely because they grow
rapidly. A very rapid-growing tree nearly always produces cheap effects.
This is well illustrated in the common planting of willows and poplars
about summer places or lake shores. Their effect is almost wholly one of
thinness and temporariness. There is little that suggests strength or
durability in willows and poplars, and for this reason they should
usually be employed as minor or secondary features in ornamental or home
grounds. When quick results are desired, nothing is better to plant
than these trees; but better trees, as maples, oaks, or elms, should be
planted with them, and the poplars and willows should be removed as
rapidly as the other species begin to afford protection. When the
plantation finally assumes its permanent characters, a few of the
remaining poplars and willows, judiciously left, may afford very
excellent effects; but no one who has an artist's feeling would be
content to construct the framework of his place of these rapid-growing
and soft-wooded trees.
[Illustration: Fig. 33. A spring expression worth securing. Catkins of
the small poplar.]
I have said that the legitimate use of poplars in ornamental grounds is
in the production of minor or secondary effects. As a rule, they are
less adapted to isolated planting as specimen trees than to using in
composition,--that is, as parts of general groups of trees, where their
characters serve to break the monotony of heavier forms and heavier
foliage. The poplars are gay trees, as a rule, especially those, like
the aspens, that have a trembling foliage. Their leaves are bright and
the tree-tops are thin. The common aspen or "popple," _Populus
tremuloides,_ of our woods, is a meritorious little tree for certain
effects. Its dangling catkins (Fig. 33), light, dancing foliage, and
silver-gray limbs, are always cheering, and its autumn color is one of
the purest golden-yellows of our landscape. It is good to see a tree of
it standing out in front of a group of maples or evergreens.
[Illustration: Fig. 34. Plant-form in cherries.--Reine Hortense.]
Before one attains to great sensitiveness in the appreciation of
gardens, he learns to distinguish plants by their forms. This is
particularly true for trees and shrubs. Each species has its own
"expression," which is determined by the size that is natural to it,
mode of branching, form of top, twig characters, bark characters,
foliage characters, and to some extent its flower and fruit characters.
It is a useful practice for one to train his eye by learning the
difference in expression of the trees of different varieties of cherries
or pears or apples or other fruits, if he has access to a plantation of
them. The differences in cherries and pears are very marked (Figs.
34-36). He may also contrast and compare carefully the kinds of any
tree or shrub of which there are two or three species in the
neighborhood, learning to distinguish them without close examination; as
the sugar maple, red maple, soft maple, and Norway maple (if it is
planted); the white or American elm, the cork elm, the slippery elm, the
planted European elms; the aspen, large-toothed poplar, cottonwood, balm
of gilead, Carolina poplar, Lombardy poplar; the main species of oaks;
the hickories; and the like.
[Illustration: Fig. 35. Morello cherry.]
It will not be long before the observer learns that many of the tree and
shrub characters are most marked in winter; and he will begin
unconsciously to add the winter to his year.
[Illustration: Fig. 36. May Duke cherry.]
_Various specific examples._
The foregoing remarks will mean more if the reader is shown some
concrete examples. I have chosen a few cases, not because they are the
best, or even because they are always good enough for models, but
because they lie in my way and illustrate what I desire to teach.
A front yard example.
[Illustration: 37. The planting in a simple front yard.]
We will first look at a very ordinary front yard. It contained no
plants, except a pear tree standing near the corner of the house. Four
years later sees the yard as shown in Fig. 37. An exochorda is the large
bush in the very foreground, and the porch foundation is screened and a
border is thereby given to the lawn. The length of this planting from
end to end is about fourteen feet, with a projection towards the front
on the left of ten feet. In the bay at the base of this projection the
planting is only two feet wide or deep, and from here it gradually
swings out to the steps, eight feet wide. The prominent large-leaved
plant near the steps is a bramble, _Rubus odoratus,_ very common in the
neighborhood, and it is a choice plant for decorative planting, when it
is kept under control. The plants in this border in front of the porch
are all from the wild, and comprise a prickly ash, several plants of two
wild osiers or dogwoods, a spice bush, rose, wild sunflowers and asters
and golden-rods. The promontory at the left is a more ambitious but less
effective mass. It contains an exochorda, a reed, variegated elder,
sacaline, variegated dogwood, tansy, and a young tree of wild crab. At
the rear of the plantation, next the house, one sees the pear tree. The
best single part of the planting is the reed (_Arundo Donax_)
overtopping the exochorda. The photograph was taken early in summer,
before the reed had become conspicuous.
[Illustration: Fig. 38. Plan of the planting shown in Fig. 37.]
A ground plan of this planting is shown in Fig. 38. At A is the walk and
B the steps. An opening at D serves as a passage. The main planting, in
front of the porch, fourteen feet long, received twelve plants, some of
which have now spread into large clumps. At 1 is a large bush of osier,
_Cornus Baileyi,_ one of the best red-stemmed bushes. At 2 is a mass of
_Rubus odoratus;_ at 5 asters and golden-rods; at 3 a clump of wild
sunflowers. The projecting planting on the left comprises about ten
plants, of which 4 is exochorda, 6 is arundo or reed, at the back of
which is a large clump of sacaline, and 7 is a variegated-leaved elder.
Another example.
A back yard is shown in Fig. 39. The owner wanted a tennis court, and
the yard is so small as not to allow of wide planting at the borders.
However, something could be done. On the left is a weedland border,
which formed the basis of the discussion of wild plants on page 35. In
the first place, a good lawn was made. In the second place, no walks or
drives were laid in the area. The drive for grocers' wagons and coal is
seen in the rear, ninety feet from the house. From I to J is the
weedland, separating the area from the neighbor's premises. Near I is a
clump of roses. At K is a large bunch of golden-rods. H marks a clump of
yucca. G is a cabin, covered with vines on the front. From G to F is an
irregular border, about six feet wide, containing barberries,
forsythias, wild elder, and other bushes. D E is a screen of Russian
mulberry, setting off the clothes yard from the front lawn. Near the
back porch, at the end of the screen, is an arbor covered with wild
grapes, making a play-house for the children. A clump of lilacs stands
at A. At B is a vine-covered screen, serving as a hammock support. The
lawn made and the planting done, it was next necessary to lay the walks.
These are wholly informal affairs, made by sinking a plank ten inches
wide into the ground to a level with the sod. The border plantings of
this yard are too straight and regular for the most artistic results,
but such was necessary in order not to encroach upon the central space.
Yet the reader will no doubt agree that this yard is much better than it
could be made by any system of scattered and spotted planting. Let him
imagine how a glowing carpet-bed would look set down in the center of
this lawn!
[Illustration: Fig. 39. Diagram of a back-yard planting. 50 x 90 feet.]
[Illustration: Fig. 40. The beginning of a landscape garden.]
A third example.
The making of a landscape picture is well illustrated in Figs. 40, 41.
The former shows a small clay field (seventy-five feet wide, and three
hundred feet deep), with a barn at the rear. In front of the barn is a
screen of willows. The observer is looking from the dwelling-house. The
area has been plowed and seeded for a lawn. The operator has then marked
out a devious line upon either border with a hoe handle, and all the
space between these borders has been gone over with a garden roller to
mark the area of the desired greensward.
The borders are now planted with a variety of small trees, bushes, and
herbs. Five years later the view shown in Fig. 41 was taken.
[Illustration: Fig. 41. The result in five years.]
A small back yard.
A back yard is shown in Fig. 42. It is approximately sixty feet square.
At present it contains a drive, which is unnecessary, expensive to keep
in repair, and destructive of any attempt to make a picture of the area.
The place could be improved by planting it somewhat after the manner
of Fig. 43.
[Illustration: Fig. 42. A meaningless back-yard planting, and an
unnecessary drive.]
[Illustration: Fig. 43. Suggestions for improving Fig. 42.]
A city lot.
A plan of a city lot is given in Fig. 44. The area is fifty by one
hundred, and the house occupies the greater part of the width. It is
level, but the surrounding land is higher, resulting in a sharp terrace,
three or four feet high, on the rear, E D. This terrace vanishes at C on
the right, but extends nearly the whole length of the other side,
gradually diminishing as it approaches A. There is a terrace two feet
high extending from A to B, along the front. Beyond the line E D is the
rear of an establishment which it is desired to hide. Since the terraces
set definite borders to this little place, it is desirable to plant
the boundaries rather heavily. If the adjoining lawns were on the same
level, or if the neighbors would allow one area to be merged into the
other by pleasant slopes, the three yards might be made into one
picture; but the place must remain isolated.
[Illustration: V. A subtropical bed. Center of cannas, with border of
_Pennisetum longistylum_ (a grass) started in late February or
early March.]
There are three problems of structural planting in the place: to provide
a cover or screen at the rear; to provide lower border masses on the
side terraces; to plant next the foundations of the house. Aside from
these problems, the grower is entitled to have a certain number of
specimen plants, if he has particular liking for given types, but these
specimens must be planted in some relation to the structural masses, and
not in the middle of the lawn.
[Illustration: Fig. 44. Present outline of a city back yard, desired to
be planted.]
The owner desired a mixed planting, for variety. The following shrubs
were actually selected and planted. The place is in central New York:--
_Shrubs for the tall background_
2 Barberry, _Berberis vulgaris_ and var. _purpurea._
1 Cornus Mas.
2 Tall deutzias.
3 Lilacs.
2 Mock oranges, _Philadelphus grandiflorus_ and _P. coronarius._
2 Variegated elders.
2 Eleagnus, _Eloeagnus hortensis_ and _E. longipes._
1 Exochorda.
2 Hibiscuses.
1 Privet.
3 Viburnums.
1 Snowball.
1 Tartarian honeysuckle.
1 Silver Bell, _Halesia tetraptera._
These were planted on the sloping bank of the terrace, from E to D. The
terrace has an incline, or width, of about three feet. Figure 45 shows
this terrace after the planting was completed, looking from the point C.
[Illustration: Fig. 45. The planting of the terrace in Fig. 44.]
_Shrubs of medium size, suitable for side plantings and groups in the
foregoing example_
3 Barberries, _Berberis Thunbergii._
3 Osier dogwoods, variegated.
2 Japanese quinces, _Cydonia Japonica_ and _C. Maulei._
4 Tall deutzias.
1 Variegated elder.
7 Weigelas, assorted colors.
1 Rhodotypos.
9 Spireas of medium growth, assorted.
1 Rubus odoratus.
1 Lonicera fragrantissima.
Most of these shrubs were planted in a border two feet wide, extending
from B to C D, the planting beginning about ten feet back from the
street. Some of them were placed on the terrace at the left, extending
from E one-fourth of the distance to A. The plants were set about two
feet apart. A strong clump was placed at N to screen the back yard. In
this back yard a few small fruit trees and a strawberry bed
were planted.
_Low informal shrubs for front of porch and banking against house_
3 Deutzia gracilis.
6 Kerrias, green and variegated.
3 Daphne Mezereum.
3 Lonicera Halliana.
3 Rubus phoenicolasius.
3 Symphoricarpus vulgaris.
4 Mahonias.
1 Ribes aureum.
1 Ribes sanguineum.
1 Rubus crataegifolius.
1 Rubus fruticosus var. laciniatus.
These bushes were planted against the front of the house (a porch on a
high foundation extends to the right from O), from the walk around to P,
and a few of them were placed at the rear of the house.
_Specimen shrubs for mere ornament, for this place_
2 Hydrangeas.
1 Snowball.
1 each Forsythia suspensa and F. viridissima.
2 Flowering almonds.
These were planted in conspicuous places here and there against the
other masses.
Here are one hundred excellent and interesting bushes planted in a yard
only fifty feet wide and one hundred feet deep, and yet the place has as
much room in it as it had before. There is abundant opportunity along
the borders for dropping in cannas, dahlias, hollyhocks, asters,
geraniums, coleuses, and other brilliant plants. The bushes will soon
begin to crowd, to be sure, but a mass is wanted, and the narrowness of
the plantations will allow each bush to develop itself laterally to
perfection. If the borders become too thick, however, it is an easy
matter to remove some of the bushes; but they probably will not. Picture
the color and variety and life in that little yard. And if a pigweed now
and then gets a start in the border, it would do no harm to let it
alone: it belongs there! Then picture the same area filled with
disconnected, spotty, dyspeptic, and unspirited flower-beds and
rose bushes!
[Illustration: Fig. 46. Said to have been planted.]
[Illustration: Fig. 47. An area well filled. Compare Fig. 46.]
Various examples.
Strong and bare foundations should be relieved by heavy planting. Fill
the corners with snow-drifts of foliage. Plant with a free hand, as if
you meant it (compare Figs. 46 and 47). The corner by the steps is a
perennial source of bad temper. The lawn-mower will not touch it, and
the grass has to be cut with a butcher-knife. If nothing else comes to
hand, let a burdock grow in it (Fig. 1).
[Illustration: Fig. 48. The screening of the tennis-screen.]
The tennis-screen may be relieved by a background (Fig. 48), and a clump
of ribbon-grass or something else is out of the way against a post
(Fig. 49).
[Illustration: Fig. 49. At the bottom of the clothes-post.]
Excellent mass effects may be secured by cutting well-established plants
of sumac, ailanthus, basswood, and other strong-growing things, to the
ground each year, for the purpose of securing the stout shoots. Figure
50 will give the hint.
But if one has no area which he can make into a lawn and upon which he
can plant such verdurous masses, what then may he do? Even then there
may be opportunity for a little neat and artistic planting. Even if one
lives in a rented house, he may bring in a bush or an herb from the
woods, and paint a picture with it. Plant it in the corner by the steps,
in front of the porch, at the corner of the house,--almost anywhere
except in the center of the lawn. Make the ground rich, secure a strong
root, and plant it with care; then wait. The little clump will not only
have a beauty and interest of its own, but it may add immensely to the
furniture of the yard.
[Illustration: Fig. 50. Young shoots of ailanthus (and sunflowers for
About these clumps one may plant bulbs of glowing tulips or dainty
snowdrops and lilies-of-the-valley; and these may be followed with
pansies and phlox and other simple folk. Very soon one finds himself
deeply interested in these random and detached pictures, and almost
before he is aware he finds that he has rounded off the corners of the
house, made snug little arbors of wild grapes and clematis, covered the
rear fence and the outhouse with actinidia and bitter-sweet, and has
thrown in dashes of color with hollyhocks, cannas, and lilies, and has
tied the foundations of the buildings to the greensward by low strands
of vines or deft bits of planting. He soon comes to feel that flowers
are most expressive of the best emotions when they are daintily dropped
in here and there against a background of foliage, or else made a
side-piece in the place. There is no limit to the adaptations; Figs. 51
to 58 suggest some of the backyard possibilities.
[Illustration: Fig. 51. A backyard cabin.]
Presently he rebels at the bold, harsh, and impudent designs of some of
the gardeners, and grows into a resourceful love of plant forms and
verdure. He may still like the weeping and cut-leaved and party-colored
trees of the horticulturist, but he sees that their best effects are to
be had when they are planted sparingly, as borders or promontories of
the structural masses.
[Illustration: Fig. 52. A garden path with hedgerows, trellis, and
bench, in formal treatment.]
The best planting, as the best painting and the best music, is possible
only with the best and tenderest feeling and the closest living with
nature. One's place grows to be a reflection of himself, changing as he
changes, and expressing his life and sympathies to the last.
We have now discussed some of the principles and applications of
landscape architecture or landscape gardening, particularly in reference
to the planting. The object of landscape gardening is _to make a
picture._ All the grading, seeding, planting, are incidental and
supplemental to this one central idea. The greensward is the canvas, the
house or some other prominent point is the central figure, the planting
completes the composition and adds the color.
[Illustration: Fig. 53. An enclosure for lawn games.]
The second conception is the principle that _the picture should have a
landscape effect._ That is, it should be nature-like. Carpet-beds are
masses of color, not pictures. They are the little garnishings and
reliefs that are to be used very cautiously, as little eccentricities
and conventionalisms in a building should never be more than very
minor features.
[Illustration: Fig. 54. Sunlight and shadow.]
Every other concept in landscape gardening is subordinate to these two.
Some of the most important of these secondary yet underlying
considerations are as follows:--
The place is to be conceived of as _a unit._ If a building is not
pleasing, ask an architect to improve it. The real architect will study
the building as a whole, grasp its design and meaning, and suggest
improvements that will add to the forcefulness of the entire structure.
A dabbler would add a chimney here, a window there, and apply various
daubs of paint to the building. Each of these features might be good in
itself. The paints might be the best of ochre, ultramarine, or paris
green, but they might have no relation to the building as a whole and
would be only ludicrous. These two examples illustrate the difference
between landscape gardening and the scattering over the place of mere
ornamental features.
[Illustration: Fig. 55. An upland garden, with grass-grown steps,
sundial, and edge of foxgloves.]
[Illustration: Fig. 56. A garden corner.]
There should be _one central and emphatic point in the picture._ A
picture of a battle draws its interest from the action of a central
figure or group. The moment the incidental and lateral figures are made
as prominent as the central figures, the picture loses emphasis, life,
and meaning. The borders of a place are of less importance than its
center. Therefore:
_Keep the center of the place open;_
_Frame and mass the sides; Avoid scattered effects._
[Illustration: Fig. 57. An old-fashioned doorway.]
In a landscape picture _flowers are incidents._ They add emphasis,
supply color, give variety and finish; they are the ornaments, but the
lawn and the mass-plantings make the framework. One flower in the
border, and made an incident of the picture, is more effective than
twenty flowers in the center of the lawn.
More depends on _the positions that plants occupy with reference to each
other and to the structural design of the place,_ than on the intrinsic
merits of the plants themselves.
[Illustration: Fig. 58. An informally treated stream.]
Landscape gardening, then, is the embellishment of grounds in such a way
that they will have a nature-like or landscape effect. The flowers and
accessories may heighten and accelerate the effect, but they should not
contradict it.
The general lay-out of a small home property having now been considered,
we may discuss the practical operations of executing the plan. It is not
intended in this chapter to discuss the general question of how to
handle the soil: that discussion comes in Chapter IV; nor in detail how
to handle plants: that occurs in Chapters V to X; but the subjects of
grading, laying out of walks and drives, executing the border plantings,
and the making of lawns, may be briefly considered.
Of course the instructions given in a book, however complete, are very
inadequate and unsatisfactory as compared with the advice of a good
experienced person. It is not always possible to find such a person,
however; and it is no little satisfaction to the homemaker if he can
feel that he can handle the work himself, even at the expense of
some mistakes.
_The grading._
The first consideration is to grade the land. Grading is very expensive,
especially if performed at a season when the soil is heavy with water.
Every effort should be made, therefore, to reduce the grading to a
minimum and still secure a pleasing contour. A good time to grade, if
one has the time, is in the fall before the heavy rains come, and then
allow the surface to settle until spring, when the finish may be made.
All filling will settle in time unless thoroughly tamped as it proceeds.
The smaller the area the more pains must be taken with the grading; but
in any plat that is one hundred feet or more square, very considerable
undulations may be left in the surface with excellent effect. In lawns
of this size, or even half this size, it is rarely advisable to have
them perfectly flat and level. They should slope gradually away from the
house; and when the lawn is seventy-five feet or more in width, it may
be slightly crowning with good effect. A lawn should never be
hollow,--that is, lower in the center than at the borders,--and broad
lawns that are perfectly flat and level often appear to be hollow. A
slope of one foot in twenty or thirty is none too much for a pleasant
grade in lawns of some extent.
In small places, the grading may be done by the eye, unless there are
very particular conditions to meet. In large or difficult areas, it is
well to have the place contoured by instruments. This is particularly
desirable if the grading is to be done on contract. A basal or datum
line is established, above or below which all surfaces are to be shaped
at measured distances. Even in small yards, such a datum line is
desirable for the best kind of work.
_The terrace._
In places in which the natural slope is very perceptible, there is a
tendency to terrace the lawn for the purpose of making the various parts
or sections of it more or less level and plane. In nearly all cases,
however, a terrace in a main lawn is objectionable. It cuts the lawn
into two or more portions, and thereby makes it look smaller and spoils
the effect of the picture. A terrace always obtrudes a hard and rigid
line, and fastens the attention upon itself rather than upon the
landscape. Terraces are also expensive to make and to keep in order; and
a shabby terrace is always distracting.
When formal effects are desired, their success depends, however, very
largely on the rigidity of the lines and the care with which they are
maintained. If a terrace is necessary, it should be in the form of a
retaining wall next the street, or else it should lie next the
building, giving as broad and continuous a lawn as possible. It should
be remembered, however, that a terrace next a building should not be a
part of the landscape, but a part of the architecture; that is, it
should serve as a base to the building. It will at once be seen,
therefore, that terraces are most in place against those buildings that
have strong horizontal lines, and they are little suitable against
buildings with very broken lines and mixed or gothic features. In order
to join the terrace to the building, it is usually advisable to place
some architectural feature upon its crown, as a balustrade, and to
ascend it by means of architectural steps. The terrace elevation,
therefore, becomes a part of the base of the building, and the top of it
is an esplanade.
[Illustration: Fig. 59. A terrace in the distance; in the foreground an
ideal "running out" of the bank.]
A simple and gradually sloping bank can nearly always be made to take
the place of a terrace. For example, let the operator make a terrace,
with sharp angles above and below, in the fall of the year; in the
spring, he will find (if he has not sodded it heavily) that nature has
taken the matter in hand and the upper angle of the terrace has been
washed away and deposited in the lower angle, and the result is the
beginning of a good series of curves. Figure 59 shows an ideal slope,
with its double curve, comprising a convex curve on the top of the bank,
and a concave curve at the lower part. This is a slope that would
ordinarily be terraced, but in its present condition it is a part of the
landscape picture. It may be mown as readily as any other part of the
lawn, and it takes care of itself.
[Illustration: Fig. 60. Treatment of a sloping lawn.]
[Illustration: Fig. 61. Treatment of a very steep bank.]
The diagrams in Fig. 60 indicate poor and good treatment of a lawn. The
terraces are not needed in this case; or if they are, they should never
be made as at 1. The same dip could be taken up in a single curved bank,
as at 3, but the better way, in general, is to give the treatment shown
in 2. Figure 61 shows how a very high terrace, 4, can be supplaced by a
sloping bank 5. Figure 62 shows a terrace that falls away too suddenly
from the house.
_The bounding lines._
In grading to the borders of the place, it is not always necessary, nor
even desirable, that a continuous contour should be maintained,
especially if the border is higher or lower than the lawn. A somewhat
irregular line of grade will appear to be most natural, and lend itself
best to effective planting. This is specially true in the grade to
watercourses, which, as a rule, should be more or less devious or
winding; and the adjacent land should, therefore, present various
heights and contours. It is not always necessary, however, to make
distinct banks along water-courses, particularly if the place is small
and the natural lay of the land is more or less plane or flat. A very
slight depression, as shown in Fig. 63, may answer all the purposes of a
water grade in such places.
[Illustration: Fig. 62. A terrace or slope that falls too suddenly away
from a building. There should be a level place or esplanade next the
building, if possible.]
[Illustration: 63. Shaping the land down to a water-course.]
If it is desirable that the lawn be as large and spacious as possible,
then the boundary of it should be removed. Take away the fences,
curbing, and other right lines. In rural places, a sunken fence may
sometimes be placed athwart the lawn at its farther edge for the
purpose of keeping cattle off the place, and thereby bring in the
adjacent landscape. Figure 64 suggests how this may be done. The
depression near the foot of the lawn, which is really a ditch and
scarcely visible from the upper part of the place because of the slight
elevation on its inner rim, answers all the purposes of a fence.
[Illustration: Fig. 64. A sunken fence athwart a foreground.]
[Illustration: Fig. 65. Protecting a tree in filled land.]
Nearly all trees are injured if the dirt is filled about the base to the
depth of a foot or more. The natural base of the plant should be exposed
so far as possible, not only for protection of the tree, but because the
base of a tree trunk is one of its most distinctive features. Oaks,
maples, and in fact most trees will lose their bark near the crown if
the dirt is piled against them; and this is especially true if the water
tends to settle about the trunks. Figure 65 shows how this difficulty
may be obviated. A well is stoned up, allowing a space of a foot or two
on all sides, and tile drains are laid about the base of the well, as
shown in the diagram at the right. A grating to cover a well is also
shown. It is often possible to make a sloping bank just above the tree,
and to allow the ground to fall away from the roots on the lower side,
so that there is no well or hole; but this is practicable only when the
land below, the tree is considerably lower than that above it.
If much of the surface is to be removed, the good top earth should be
saved, and placed back on the area, in which to sow the grass seed and
to make the plantings. This top soil may be piled at one side out of the
way while the grading is proceeding.
_Walks and drives._
So far as the picture in the landscape is concerned, walks and drives
are blemishes. Since they are necessary, however, they must form a part
of the landscape design. They should be as few as possible, not only
because they interfere with the artistic composition, but also because
they are expensive to make and to maintain.
Most places have too many, rather than too few, walks and drives. Small
city areas rarely need a driveway entrance, not even to the back door.
The back yard in Fig. 39 illustrates this point. The distance from the
house to the street on the back is about ninety feet, yet there is no
driveway in the place. The coal and provisions are carried in; and,
although the deliverymen may complain at first, they very soon accept
the inevitable. It is not worth the while to maintain a drive in such a
place for the convenience of truckmen and grocers. Neither is it often
necessary to have a drive in the front yard if the house is within
seventy-five or one hundred feet of the street. When a drive is
necessary, it should enter, if possible, at the side of the residence,
and not make a circle in the front lawn. This remark may not apply to
areas of a half acre or more.
The drives and walks should be direct. They should go where they appear
to go, and should be practically the shortest distances between the
points to be reached. Figure 66 illustrates some of the problems
connected with walks to the front door. A common type of walk is _a,_
and it is a nuisance. The time that one loses in going around the
cameo-set in the center would be sufficient, if conserved, to lengthen a
man's life by several months or a year. Such a device has no merit in
art or convenience. Walk _b_ is better, but still is not ideal, inasmuch
as it makes too much of a right-angled curve, and the pedestrian desires
to cut across the corner. Such a walk, also, usually extends too far
beyond the corner of the house to make it appear to be direct. It has
the merit, however, of leaving the center of the lawn practically
untouched. The curve in walk _d_ is ordinarily unnecessary unless the
ground is rolling. In small places, like this, it is better to have a
straight walk directly from the sidewalk to the house. In fact, this is
true in nearly all cases in which the lawn is not more than forty to
seventy-five feet deep. Plan _c_ is also inexcusable. A straight walk
would answer every purpose better. Any walk that passes the house, and
returns to it, _e,_ is inexcusable unless it is necessary to make a very
steep ascent. If most of the traveling is in one direction from the
house, a walk like _f_ may be the most direct and efficient. It is known
as a direct curve, and is a compound of a concave and a convex curve.
[Illustration: Fig. 66. Forms of front walks.]
It is essential that any service walk or drive, however long, should be
continuous in direction and design from end to end. Figure 67
illustrates a long drive that contradicts this principle.
It is a series of meaningless curves. The reason for these curves is
the fact that the drive was extended from time to time as new houses
were added to the villa. The reader will easily perceive how all the
kinks might be taken out of this drive and one direct and bold curve be
The question of drainage, curbing, and gutters.
[Illustration: Fig. 67. A patched-up drive, showing meaningless crooks.]
Thorough drainage, natural or artificial, is essential to hard and
permanent walks and drives. This point is too often neglected. On the
draining and grading of residence streets a well-known landscape
gardener, O.C. Simonds, writes as follows in "Park and Cemetery ":
[Illustration: Fig. 68. Treatment of walk and drive in a suburban
region. There are no curbs.]
"The surface drainage is something that interests us whenever it rains
or when the snow melts. It has been customary to locate catch-basins for
receiving the surface water at street intersections. This arrangement
causes most of the surface water from both streets to run past the
crossings, making it necessary to depress the pavement, so that one must
step down and up in going from one side of a street to the other, or
else a passageway for the water must be made through the crossing. It
may be said that a step down to the pavement and up again to the
sidewalk at the street intersections is of no consequence, but it is
really more elegant and satisfactory to have the walk practically
continuous (Fig. 68). With the catch-basin at the corner, the stoppage
of the inlet, or a great fall of rain, sometimes covers the crossing
with water, so one must either wade or go out of his way. With
catch-basins placed in the center of the blocks, or, if the blocks are
long, at some distance from the crossing, the intersections can be kept
relatively high and dry. Roadways are generally made crowning in the
center so that water runs to the sides, but frequently the fall
lengthwise of the roadway is less than it should be. City engineers are
usually inclined to make the grade along the length of a street as
nearly level as possible. Authorities who have given the subject of
roads considerable study recommend a fall lengthwise of not less than
one foot in one hundred and twenty-five, nor more than six feet in one
hundred. Such grades are not always feasible, but a certain amount of
variation in level can usually be made in a residence street which will
make it much more pleasing in appearance, and have certain practical
advantages in keeping the street dry. The water is usually confined to
the edge of the pavement by curbing, which may rise anywhere from four
to fourteen inches above the surface. This causes all the water falling
on the roadway to seek the catch-basin and be wasted, excepting for its
use in flushing the sewer. If the curbing, which is really unnecessary
in most cases, were omitted, much of the surface water would soak into
the ground between the sidewalk and the pavement, doing much good to
trees, shrubs, and grass. The roots of the trees naturally extend as
far, or farther, than their branches, and for their good the ground
under the pavement and sidewalk should be supplied with a certain amount
of moisture.
[Illustration: VI. A tree that gives character to a place.]
[Illustration: Fig. 69. A common form of edge for walk or drive.]
[Illustration: Fig. 70. A better form.]
"The arrangement made for the removal of surface water from the street
must also take care of the surplus water from adjacent lots, so there
is a practical advantage in having the level of the street lower than
that of the ground adjoining. The appearance of houses and home grounds
is also much better when they are higher than the street, and for this
reason it is usually desirable to keep the latter as low as possible and
give the underground pipes sufficient covering to protect them from
frost. Where the ground is high and the sewers very deep, the grades
should, of course, be determined with reference to surface conditions
only. It sometimes happens that this general arrangement of the grades
of home grounds, which is desirable on most accounts, causes water from
melting snow to flow over the sidewalk in the winter time, where it may
freeze and be dangerous to pedestrians. A slight depression of the lot
away from the sidewalk and then an ascent toward the house would usually
remedy this difficulty, and also make the house appear higher.
Sometimes, however, a pipe should be placed underneath the sidewalk to
allow water to reach the street from inside of the lot line. The aim in
surface drainage should always be to keep the traveled portions of the
street in the most perfect condition for use. The quick removal of
surplus water from sidewalks, crossings, and roadways will help insure
this result."
These remarks concerning the curbings and hard edges of city streets may
also be applied to walks and drives in small grounds. Figure 69, for
example, shows the common method of treating the edge of a walk, by
making a sharp and sheer elevation. This edge needs constant trimming,
else it becomes unshapely; and this trimming tends to widen the walk.
For general purposes, a border, like that shown in Fig. 70, is better.
The sod rolls over until it meets the walk, and the lawn-mower is able
to keep it in condition. If it becomes more or less rough and irregular,
it is pounded down.
If it is thought necessary to trim the edges of walks and drives, then
one of the various kinds of sod-cutters that are sold by dealers may be
used for the purpose, or an old hoe may have its shank straightened and
the corners of the blade rounded off, as shown in Fig. 71, and this will
answer all purposes of the common sod-cutter; or, a sharp,
straight-edged spade may sometimes be used. The loose overhanging grass
on these edges is ordinarily cut by large shears made for the purpose.
[Illustration: Fig. 71. Sod cutter.]
Walks and drives should be laid in such direction that they will tend to
drain themselves; but if it is necessary to have gutters, these should
be deep and sharp at the bottom, for the water then draws together and
tends to keep the gutter clean. A shallow and rounded brick or cobble
gutter does not clean itself; it is very likely to fill with weeds, and
vehicles often drive in it. The best gutters and curbs are now made of
cement. Figure 72 shows a catch basin at the left of a walk or drive,
and the tile laid underneath for the purpose of carrying away the
surface water.
[Illustration: Fig. 72. Draining the gutter and the drive.]
The materials.
The best materials for the main walks are cement and stone flagging. In
many soils, however, there is enough binding material in the land to
make a good walk without the addition of any other material. Gravel,
cinders, ashes, and the like, are nearly always inadvisable, for they
are liable to be loose in dry weather and sticky in wet weather. In the
laying of cement it is important that the walk be well drained by a
layer of a foot or two of broken stone or brickbats, unless the walk is
on loose and leachy land or in a frostless country.
In back yards it is often best not to have any well-defined walk. A
ramble across the sod may be as good. For a back walk, over which
delivery men are to travel, one of the very best means is to sink a
foot-wide plank into the earth on a level with the surface of the sod;
and it is not necessary that the walk be perfectly straight. These walks
do not interfere with the work of the lawn-mower, and they take care of
themselves. When the plank rots, at the expiration of five to ten years,
the plank is taken up and another one dropped in its place. This
ordinarily makes the best kind of a walk alongside a rear border. (Plate
XI.) In gardens, nothing is better for a walk than tanbark.
[Illustration: Fig. 73. Planting alongside a walk.]
The sides of walks and drives may often be planted with shrubbery. It is
not necessary that they always have prim and definite borders. Figure 73
illustrates a bank of foliage which breaks up the hard line of a walk,
and serves also as a border for the growing of flowers and interesting
specimens. This walk is also characterized by the absence of high and
hard borders. Figure 68 illustrates this fact, and also shows how the
parking between the walk and the street may be effectively planted.
_Making the borders._
The borders and groups of planting are laid out on the paper plan. There
are several ways of transferring them to the ground. Sometimes they are
not made until after the lawn is established, when the inexperienced
operator may more readily lay them out. Usually, however, the planting
and lawn-making proceed more or less simultaneously. After the shaping
of the ground has been completed, the areas are marked off by stakes, by
a limp rope laid on the surface, or by a mark made with a rake handle.
The margin once determined, the lawn may be seeded and rolled (Fig. 40),
and the planting allowed to proceed as it may; or the planting may all
be done inside the borders, and the seeding then be applied to the lawn.
If the main dimensions of the borders and beds are carefully measured
and marked by stakes, it is an easy matter to complete the outline by
making a mark with a stick or rakestale.
[Illustration: Fig. 74. A bowered pathway.]
[Illustration: Fig. 75. Objects for pity.]
The planting may be done in spring or fall,--in fall preferably if the
stock is ready (and of hardy species) and the land in perfect condition
of drainage; usually, however, things are not ready early enough in the
fall for any extended planting, and the work is commonly done as soon as
the ground settles in spring (see Chapter V). Head the bushes back. Dig
up the entire area. Spade up the ground, set the bushes thick, hoe them
at intervals, and then let them go. If you do not like the bare earth
between them, sow in the seeds of hardy annual flowers, like phlox,
petunia, alyssum, and pinks. Never set the bushes in holes dug in the
old sod (Fig. 75). The person who plants his shrubs in holes in the
sward does not seriously mean to make any foliage mass, and it is likely
that he does not know what relation the border mass has to artistic
planting. The illustration, Fig. 76, shows the office that a shrubbery
may perform in relation to a building; this particular building was
erected in an open field.
[Illustration: 76. A border group, limiting the space next the residence
and separating it from the fields and the clothes-yards.]
I have said to plant the bushes thick. This is for quick effect. It is
an easy matter to thin the plantation if it becomes too thick. All
common bushes may usually be planted as close as two to three feet apart
each way, especially if one gets many of them from the fields, so that
he does not have to buy them. If there are not sufficient of the
permanent bushes for thick planting, the spaces may be tilled
temporarily by cheaper or commoner bushes: but do not forget to remove
the fillers as rapidly as the others need the room.
_Making the lawn._
The first thing to be done in the making of a lawn is to establish the
proper grade. This should be worked out with the greatest care, from the
fact that when a lawn is once made, its level and contour should never
be changed.
Preparing the ground.
The next important step is to prepare the ground deeply and thoroughly.
The permanence of the sod will depend very largely on the fertility and
preparation of the soil in the beginning. The soil should be deep and
porous, so that the roots will strike far into it, and be enabled
thereby to withstand droughts and cold winters. The best means of
deepening the soil, as explained in Chapter IV, is by tile-draining; but
it can also be accomplished to some extent by the use of the subsoil
plow and by trenching. Since the lawn cannot be refitted, however, the
subsoil is likely to fall back into a hard-pan in a few years if it has
been subsoiled or trenched, whereas a good tile-drain affords a
permanent amelioration of the under soil. Soils that are naturally loose
and porous may not need this extra attention. In fact, lands that are
very loose and sandy may require to be packed or cemented rather than
loosened. One of the best means of doing this is to fill them with
humus, so that the water will not leach through them rapidly. Nearly all
lands that are designed for lawns are greatly benefited by heavy
dressings of manure thoroughly worked into them in the beginning,
although it is possible to get the ground too rich on the surface at
first; it is not necessary that all the added plant-food be immediately
The lawn will profit by an annual application of good chemical
fertilizer. Ground bone is one of the best materials to apply, at the
rate of three hundred to four hundred pounds to the acre. It is usually
sown broadcast, early in spring. Dissolved South Carolina rock may be
used instead, but the application will need to be heavier if similar
results are expected. Yellow and poor grass may often be reinvigorated
by an application of two hundred to three hundred pounds to the acre of
nitrate of soda. Wood ashes are often good, particularly on soils that
tend to be acid. Muriate of potash is not so often used, although it may
produce excellent results in some cases. There is no invariable rule.
The best plan is for the lawn-maker to try the different treatments on a
little piece or corner of the lawn; in this way, he should secure more
valuable information than can be got otherwise.
The first operation after draining and grading is the plowing or spading
of the surface. If the area is large enough to admit a team, the surface
is worked down by means of harrows of various kinds. Afterwards it is
leveled by means of shovels and hoes, and finally by garden rakes. The
more finely and completely the soil is pulverized, the quicker the lawn
may be secured, and the more permanent are the results.
The kind of grass.
The best grass for the body or foundation of lawns in the North is
June-grass or Kentucky blue-grass (_Poa pratensis_), not Canada
blue-grass (_Poa compressa_).
Whether white clover or other seed should be sown with the grass seed is
very largely a personal question. Some persons like it, and others do
not. If it is desired, it may be sown directly after the grass seed is
sown, at the rate of one to four quarts or more to the acre.
For special purposes, other grasses may be used for lawns. Various kinds
of lawn mixtures are on the market, for particular uses, and some of
them are very good.
A superintendent of parks in one of the Eastern cities gives the
following experience on kinds of grass: "For the meadows on the large
parks we generally use extra recleaned Kentucky blue-grass, red-top,
and white clover, in the proportion of thirty pounds of blue-grass,
thirty pounds of red-top, and ten pounds of white clover to the acre.
Sometimes we use for smaller lawns the blue-grass and red-top without
the white clover. We have used blue-grass, red-top, and Rhode Island
bent in the proportion of twenty pounds each, and ten pounds of white
clover to the acre, but the Rhode Island bent is so expensive that we
rarely buy it. For grass in shady places, as in a grove, we use Kentucky
blue-grass and rough-stalked meadow-grass (_Poa trivialis_) in equal
parts at the rate of seventy pounds to the acre. On the golf links we
use blue-grass without any mixture on some of the putting greens;
sometimes we use Rhode Island bent, and on sandy greens we use red-top.
We always buy each kind of seed separately and mix them, and are
particular to get the best extra recleaned of each kind. Frequently we
get the seed of three different dealers to secure the best."
In most cases, the June-grass germinates and grows somewhat slowly, and
it is usually advisable to sow four or five quarts of timothy grass to
the acre with the June-grass seed. The timothy comes on quickly and
makes a green the first year, and the June-grass soon crowds it out. It
is not advisable to sow grain in the lawn as a nurse to the grass. If
the land is well prepared and the seed is sown in the cool part of the
year, the grass ought to grow much better without the other crops than
with them. Lands that are hard and lacking in nitrogen may be benefited
if crimson clover (four or five quarts) is sown with the grass seed.
This will make a green the first year, and will break up the subsoil by
its deep roots and supply nitrogen, and being an annual plant it does
not become troublesome, if mown frequently enough to prevent seeding.
In the southern states, where June-grass does not thrive, Bermuda-grass
is the leading species used for lawns; although there are two or three
others, as the goose-grass of Florida, that may be used in special
localities. Bermuda-grass is usually propagated by roots, but imported
seed (said to be from Australia) is now available. The Bermuda-grass
becomes reddish after frost; and English rye-grass may be sown on the
Bermuda sod in August or September far south for winter green; in spring
the Bermuda crowds it out.
When and how to sow the seed.
The lawn should be seeded when the land is moist and the weather
comparatively cool. It is ordinarily most advisable to grade the lawn in
late summer or early fall, because the land is then comparatively dry
and can be moved cheaply. The surface can also be got in condition,
perhaps, for sowing late in September or early in October in the North;
or, if the surface has required much filling, it is well to leave it in
a somewhat unfinished state until spring, in order that the soft places
may settle and then be refilled before the seeding is done. If the seed
can be sown early in the fall, before the rains come, the grass should
be large enough, except in northernmost localities, to withstand the
winter; but it is generally most desirable to sow in very early spring.
If the land has been thoroughly prepared in the fall, the seed may be
sown on one of the late light snows in spring and as the snow melts the
seed is carried into the land, and germinates very quickly. If the seed
is sown when the land is loose and workable, it should be raked in; and
if the weather promises to be dry or the sowing is late, the surface
should be rolled.
The seeding is usually done broadcast by hand on all small areas, the
sower going both ways (at right angles) across the area to lessen the
likelihood of missing any part. Steep banks are sometimes sown with seed
that is mixed in mold or earth to which water is added until the
material will just run through the spout of a watering-can; the material
is then poured on the surface, which is first made loose.
Inasmuch as we desire to secure many very fine stalks of grass rather
than a few large ones, it is essential that the seed be sown very
thick. Three to five bushels to the acre is the ordinary application of
grass seed (page 79).
Securing a firm sod.
The lawn will ordinarily produce a heavy crop of weeds the first year,
especially if much stable manure has been used. The weeds need not be
pulled, unless such vicious intruders as docks or other perennial plants
gain a foothold; but the area should be mown frequently with a
lawn-mower. The annual weeds die at the approach of cold, and they are
kept down by the use of the lawn-mower, while the grass is not injured.
It rarely happens that every part of the lawn will have an equal catch
of grass. The bare or sparsely seeded places should be sown again every
fall and spring until the lawn is finally complete. In fact, it requires
constant attention to keep a lawn in good sod, and it must be
continuously in the process of making. It is not every lawn area, or
every part of the area, that is adapted to grass; and it may require
long study to find out why it is not. Bare or poor places should be
hetcheled up strongly with an iron-toothed rake, perhaps fertilized
again, and then reseeded. It is unusual that a lawn does not need
repairing every year. Lawns of several acres which become thin and mossy
may be treated in essentially the same way by dragging them with a
spike-tooth harrow in early spring as soon as the land is dry enough to
hold a team. Chemical fertilizers and grass seed are now sown liberally,
and the area is perhaps dragged again, although this is not always
essential; and then the roller is applied to bring the surface into a
smooth condition. To plow up these poor lawns is to renew all the battle
with weeds, and really to make no progress; for, so long as the contour
is correct, the lawn may be repaired by these surface applications.
The stronger the sward, the less the trouble with weeds; yet it is
practically impossible to keep dandelions and some other weeds out of
lawns except by cutting them out with a knife thrust underground (there
are good spuds manufactured for this purpose, Figs. 108 to 111). If the
sod is very thin after the weeds are removed, sow more grass seed.
The mowing.
The mowing of the lawn should begin as soon as the grass is tall enough
in the spring and continue at the necessary intervals throughout the
summer. The most frequent mowings are needed early in the season, when
the grass is growing rapidly. If it is mown frequently--say once or
twice a week--in the periods of most vigorous growth, it will not be
necessary to rake off the mowings. In fact, it is preferable to leave
the grass on the lawn, to be driven into the surface by the rains and to
afford a mulch. It is only when the lawn has been neglected and the
grass has got so high that it becomes unsightly on the lawn, or when the
growth is unusually luxurious, that it is necessary to take it off. In
dry weather care should be taken not to mow the lawn any more than
absolutely necessary. The grass should be rather long when it goes into
the winter. In the last two months of open weather the grass makes small
growth, and it tends to lop down and to cover the surface densely, which
it should be allowed to do.
Fall treatment.
As a rule, it is not necessary to rake all the leaves off lawns in the
fall. They afford an excellent mulch, and in the autumn months the
leaves on the lawn are among the most attractive features of the
landscape. The leaves generally blow off after a time, and if the place
has been constructed with an open center and heavily planted sides, the
leaves will be caught in these masses of trees and shrubs and there
afford an excellent mulch. The ideal landscape planting, therefore,
takes care of itself to a very large extent. It is bad economy to burn
the leaves, especially if one has herbaceous borders, roses, and other
plants that need a mulch. When the leaves are taken off the borders in
the spring, they should be piled with the manure or other refuse and
there allowed to pass into compost (pages 110, 111).
If the land has been well prepared in the beginning, and its life is not
sapped by large trees, it is ordinarily unnecessary to cover the lawn
with manure in the fall. The common practice of covering grass with raw
manure should be discouraged because the material is unsightly and
unsavory, and the same results can be got with the use of commercial
fertilizers combined with dressings of very fine and well-rotted compost
or manure, and by not raking the lawn too clean of the mowings of
the grass.
Spring treatment.
Every spring the lawn should be firmed by means of a roller, or, if the
area is small, by means of a pounder, or the back of a spade in the
hands of a vigorous man. The lawn-mower itself tends to pack the
surface. If there are little irregularities in the surface, caused by
depressions of an inch or so, and the highest places are not above the
contour-line of the lawn, the surface may be brought to level by
spreading fine, mellow soil over it, thereby filling up the depressions.
The grass will quickly grow through this soil. Little hummocks may be
cut off, some of the earth removed, and the sod replaced.
Watering lawns.
The common watering of lawns by means of lawn sprinklers usually does
more harm than good. This results from the fact that the watering is
generally done in clear weather, and the water is thrown through the air
in very fine spray, so that a considerable part of it is lost in vapor.
The ground is also hot, and the water does not pass deep into the soil.
If the lawn is watered at all, it should be soaked; turn on the hose at
nightfall and let it run until the land is wet as deep as it is dry,
then move the hose to another place. A thorough soaking like this, a
few times in a dry summer, will do more good than sprinkling every day.
If the land is deeply prepared in the first place, so that the roots
strike far into the soil, there is rarely need of watering unless the
place is arid, the season unusually dry, or the moisture sucked out by
trees. The surface sprinkling engenders a tendency of roots to start
near the surface, and therefore the more the lawn is lightly watered,
the greater is the necessity for watering it.
Sodding the lawn.
[Illustration: Fig. 77. Cutting sod for a lawn.]
Persons who desire to secure a lawn very quickly may sod the area rather
than seed it, although the most permanent results are usually secured by
seeding. Sodding, however, is expensive, and is to be used only about
the borders of the place, near buildings, or in areas in which the owner
can afford to expend considerable money. The best sod is that which is
secured from an old pasture, and for two or three reasons. In the first
place, it is the right kind of grass, the June-grass (in the North)
being the species that oftenest runs into pastures and crowds out other
plants. Again, it has been so closely eaten down, especially if it has
been pastured by sheep, that it has made a very dense and well-filled
sod, which can be rolled up in thin layers. In the third place, the soil
in old pastures is likely to be rich from the droppings of animals.
In taking sod, it is important that it be cut very thin. An inch and a
half thick is usually ample. It is ordinarily rolled up in strips a foot
wide and of any length that will allow the rolls to be handled by one or
two men. A foot-wide board is laid upon the turf, and the sod cut along
either edge of it. One person then stands upon the strip of sod and
rolls it towards himself, while another cuts it loose with a spade, as
shown in Fig. 77. When the sod is laid, it is unrolled on the land and
then firmly beaten down. Land that is to be sodded should be soft on
top, so that the sod can be well pounded into it. If the sod is not well
pounded down, it will settle unevenly and present a bad surface, and
will also dry out and perhaps not live through a dry spell. It is almost
impossible to pound down sod too firm. If the land is freshly plowed, it
is important that the borders that are sodded be an inch or two lower
than the adjacent land, because the land will settle in the course of a
few weeks. In a dry time, the sod may be covered from a half inch to an
inch with fine, mellow soil as a mulch. The grass should grow through
this soil without difficulty. Upon terraces and steep banks, the sod may
be held in place by driving wooden pegs through it.
A combination of sodding and seeding.
[Illustration: Fig. 78. Economical sodding, the spaces being seeded.]
An "economical sodding" is described in "American Garden" (Fig. 78): "To
obtain sufficient sod of suitable quality for covering terrace-slopes or
small blocks that for any reason cannot well be seeded is often a
difficult matter. In the accompanying illustration we show how a surface
of sod may be used to good advantage over a larger area than its real
measurement represents. This is done by laying the sods, cut in strips
from six to ten inches wide, in lines and cross-lines, and after
filling the spaces with good soil, sowing these spaces with grass-seed.
Should the catch of seed for any reason be poor, the sod of the strips
will tend to spread over the spaces between them, and failure to obtain
a good sward within a reasonable time is almost out of the question.
Also, if one needs sod and has no place from which to cut it except the
lawn, by taking up blocks of sod, leaving strips and cross-strips, and
treating the surface as described, the bare places are soon covered
with green."
Sowing with sod.
Lawns may be sown with pieces of sods rather than with seeds. Sods may
be cut up into bits an inch or two square, and these may be scattered
broadcast over the area and rolled into the land. While it is preferable
that the pieces should lie right side up, this is not necessary if they
are cut thin, and sown when the weather is cool and moist. Sowing pieces
of sod is good practice when it is difficult to secure a catch
from seed.
If one were to maintain a permanent sod garden, at one side, for the
selecting and growing of the very best sod (as he would grow a stock
seed of corn or beans), this method should be the most rational of all
procedures, at least until the time that we produce strains of lawn
grass that come true from seeds.
Other ground covers.
Under trees, and in other shady places, it may be necessary to cover the
ground with something else than grass. Good plants for such uses are
periwinkle (_Vinca minor,_ an evergreen trailer, often called "running
myrtle"), moneywort (_Lysimachia nummularia_), lily-of-the-valley, and
various kinds of sedge or carex. In some dark or shady places, and under
some kinds of trees, it is practically impossible to secure a good lawn,
and one may be obliged to resort to decumbent bushes or other forms
of planting.
Almost any land contains enough food for the growing of good crops, but
the food elements may be chemically unavailable, or there may be
insufficient water to dissolve them. It is too long a story to explain
at this place,--the philosophy of tillage and of enriching the
land,--and the reader who desires to make excursions into this
delightful subject should consult King on "The Soil," Roberts on "The
Fertility of the Land," and recent writings of many kinds. The reader
must accept my word for it that tilling the land renders it productive.
I must call my reader's attention to the fact that this book is on the
making of gardens,--on the planning and the doing of the work from the
year's end to end,--not on the appreciation of a completed garden. I
want the reader to know that a garden is not worth having unless he
makes it with his own hands or helps to make it. He must work himself
into it. He must know the pleasure of preparing the land, of contending
with bugs and all other difficulties, for it is only thereby that he
comes into appreciation of the real value of a garden.
I am saying this to prepare the reader for the work that I lay out in
this chapter. I want him to know the real joy that there is in the
simple processes of breaking the earth and fitting it for the seed. The
more pains he takes with these processes, naturally the keener will be
his enjoyment of them. No one can have any other satisfaction than that
of mere manual exercise if he does not know the reasons for what he does
with his soil. I am sure that my keenest delight in a garden comes in
the one month of the opening season and the other month of the closing
season. These are the months when I work hardest and when I am nearest
the soil. To feel the thrust of the spade, to smell the sweet earth, to
prepare for the young plants and then to prepare for the closing year,
to handle the tools with discrimination, to guard against frost, to be
close with the rain and wind, to see the young things start into life
and then to see them go down into winter,--these are some of the best of
the joys of gardening. In this spirit we should take up the work of
handling the land.
_The draining of the land._
The first step in the preparation of land, after it has been thoroughly
cleared and subdued of forest or previous vegetation, is to attend to
the drainage. All land that is springy, low, and "sour," or that holds
the water in puddles for a day or two following heavy rains, should be
thoroughly underdrained. Draining also improves the physical condition
of the soil even when the land does not need the removal of superfluous
water. In hard lands, it lowers the water-table, or tends to loosen and
aerate the soil to a greater depth, and thereby enables it to hold more
water without injury to plants. Drainage is particularly useful in dry
but hard garden lands, because these lands are often in sod or
permanently planted, and the soil cannot be broken up by deep tillage.
Tile drainage is permanent subsoiling.
[Illustration: Fig 79. Ditching tools.]
Hard-baked cylindrical tiles make the best and most permanent drains.
The ditches usually should not be less than two and one-half feet deep,
and three or three and one-half feet is often better. In most garden
areas, drains may be laid with profit as often as every thirty feet.
Give all drains a good and continuous fall. For single drains and for
laterals not over four hundred or five hundred feet long, a two and
one-half inch tile is sufficient, unless much water must be carried from
swales or springs. In stony countries, flat stones may be used in place
of tiles, and persons who are skillful in laying them make drains as
good and permanent as those constructed of tiles. The tiles or stones
are covered with sods, straw, or paper, and the earth is then filled in.
This temporary cover keeps the loose dirt out of the tiles, and by the
time it is rotted the earth has settled into place.
[Illustration: Fig. 80. How to use a spade.]
In small places, ditching must ordinarily be done wholly with hand
tools. A common spade and pick are the implements usually employed,
although a spade with a long handle and narrow blade, as shown in Fig.
79, is very useful for excavating the bottom of the ditch.
In most cases, much time and muscle are wasted in the use of the pick.
If the digging is properly done, a spade can be used to cut the soil,
even in fairly hard clay land, with no great difficulty. The essential
point in the easy use of the spade is to manage so that one edge of the
spade always cuts a free or exposed surface. The illustration (Fig. 80)
will explain the method. When the operator endeavors to cut the soil in
the method shown at A, he is obliged to break both edges at every
thrust of the tool; but when he cuts the slice diagonally, first
throwing his spade to the right and then to the left, as shown at B, he
cuts only one side and is able to make progress without the expenditure
of useless effort. These remarks will apply to any spading of the land.
In large areas, horses may be used to facilitate the work of ditching.
There are ditching plows and machines, which, however, need not be
discussed here; but three or four furrows may be thrown out in either
direction with a strong plow, and a subsoil plow be run behind to break
up the hard-pan, and this may reduce the labor of digging as much as
one-half. When the excavating is completed, the bottom of the ditch is
evened up by means of a line or level, and the bed for the tiles is
prepared by the use of a goose-neck scoop, shown in Fig. 79. It is very
important that the outlets of drains be kept free of weeds and litter.
If the outlet is built up with mason work, to hold the end of the tile
intact, very much will be added to the permanency of the drain.
_Trenching and subsoiling._
[Illustration: 81. Trenching with a spade.]
Although underdraining is the most important means of increasing the
depth of the soil, it is not always practicable to lay drains through
garden lands. In such cases, recourse is had to very deep preparation of
the land, either every year or every two or three years.
[Illustration: VII. Bedding with palms. If a bricked-up pit is made
about the porch, pot palms may be plunged in it in spring and pot
conifers in winter; and fall bulbs in tin cans (so that the receptacles
will not split with frost) may be plunged among the evergreens.]
In small garden areas, this deep preparation will ordinarily be done by
trenching with a spade. This operation of trenching consists in breaking
up the earth two spades deep. Figure 81 explains the operation. The
section at the left shows a single spading, the earth being thrown over
to the right, leaving the subsoil exposed the whole width of the bed.
The section at the right shows a similar operation, so far as the
surface spading is concerned, but the subsoil has also been cut as fast
as it has been exposed. This under soil is not thrown out on the
surface, and usually it is not inverted; but a spadeful is lifted and
then allowed to drop so that it is thoroughly broken and pulverized in
the manipulation.
[Illustration: Fig. 82. Home-made subsoil plow.]
In all lands that have a hard and high subsoil, it is usually essential
to practice trenching if the best results are to be secured; this is
especially true when deep-rooted plants, as beets, parsnips, and other
root-crops, are to be grown; it prepares the soil to hold moisture; and
it allows the water of heavy rainfall to pass to greater depths rather
than to be held as puddles and in mud on the surface.
In places that can be entered with a team, deep and heavy plowing to the
depth of seven to ten inches may be desirable on hard lands, especially
if such lands cannot be plowed very often; and the depth of the
pulverization is often extended by means of the subsoil plow. This
subsoil plow does not turn a furrow, but a second team draws the
implement behind the ordinary plow, and the bottom of the furrow is
loosened and broken. Figure 82 shows a home-made subsoil plow, and Fig.
83 two types of commercial tools. It must be remembered that it is the
hardest lands that need subsoiling and that, therefore, the subsoil plow
should be exceedingly strong.
[Illustration: Fig. 83. Forms of subsoil plows.]
_Preparation of the surface._
Every pains should be taken to prevent the surface of the land from
becoming crusty or baked, for the hard surface establishes a capillary
connection with the moist soil beneath, and is a means of passing off
the water into the atmosphere. Loose and mellow soil also has more free
plant-food, and provides the most congenial conditions for the growth of
plants. The tools that one may use in preparing the surface soil are now
so many and so well adapted to the work that the gardener should find
special satisfaction in handling them.
If the soil is a stiff clay, it is often advisable to plow it or dig it
in the fall, allowing it to lie rough and loose all winter, so that the
weathering may pulverize and slake it. If the clay is very tenacious,
it may be necessary to throw leafmold or litter over the surface before
the spading is done, to prevent the soil from running together or
cementing before spring. With mellow and loamy lands, however, it is
ordinarily best to leave the preparation of the surface until spring.
In the preparation of the surface, the ordinary hand tools, or spades
and shovels, may be used. If, however, the soil is mellow, a fork is a
better tool than a spade, from the fact that it does not slice the soil,
but tends to break it up into smaller and more irregular masses. The
ordinary spading-fork, with strong flat tines, is a most serviceable
tool; a spading-fork for soft ground may be made from an old manure fork
by cutting down the tines, as shown in Fig. 84.
[Illustration: Fig. 84. Improvising a spading-fork.]
It is important that the soil should not be sticky when it is prepared,
as it is likely to become hard and baked and the physical condition be
greatly injured. However, land that is too wet for the reception of
seeds may still be thrown up loose with a spade or fork and allowed to
dry, and after two or three days the surface preparation may be
completed with the hoe and the rake. In ordinary soils the hoe is the
tool to follow the spading-fork or the spade, but for the final
preparation of the surface a steel garden-rake is the ideal implement.
In areas, large enough to admit horse tools, the land can be fitted more
economically by means of the various types of plows, harrows, and
cultivators that are to be had of any dealer in agricultural implements.
Figure 85 shows various types of model surface plows. The one shown at
the upper left-hand is considered by Roberts, in his "Fertility of the
Land," to be the ideal general-purpose plow, as respects shape and
method of construction.
[Illustration: Fig. 85. Excellent types of surface plows.]
The type of machine to be used must be determined wholly by the
character of the land and the purposes for which it is to be fitted.
Lands that are hard and cloddy may be reduced by the use of the disk or
Acme harrows, shown in Fig. 86; but those that are friable and mellow
may not need such heavy and vigorous tools. On these mellower lands, the
spring-tooth harrow, types of which are shown in Fig. 87, may follow the
plow. On very hard lands, these spring-tooth harrows may follow the disk
and Acme types. The final preparation of the land is accomplished by
light implements of the pattern shown in Fig. 88. These spike-tooth
smoothing-harrows do for the field what the hand-rake does for the
[Illustration: Fig. 86. Disk and Acme harrows, for the first working of
hard or cloddy land.]
[Illustration: Fig. 87. Spring-tooth harrows.]
If it is desired to put a very fine finish on the surface of the ground
by means of horse tools, implements like the Breed or Wiard weeder may
be used. These are constructed on the principle of a spring-tooth horse
hay-rake, and are most excellent, not only for fitting loose land for
ordinary seeding, but also for subsequent tillage.
[Illustration: Fig. 88. Spike-tooth harrow.]
In areas that cannot be entered with a team, various one-horse
implements may do the work that is accomplished by heavier tools in the
field. The spring-tooth cultivator, shown at the right in Fig. 89, may
do the kind of work that the spring-tooth harrows are expected to do on
larger areas; and various adjustable spike-tooth cultivators, two of
which are shown in Fig. 89, are useful for putting a finish on the land.
These tools are also available for the tilling of the surface when crops
are growing. The spring-tooth cultivator is a most useful tool for
cultivating raspberries and blackberries, and other strong-rooted crops.
[Illustration: Fig. 89. Spike-tooth and spring-tooth cultivators.]
[Illustration: Fig. 90. Good type of wheel-hoe.]
[Illustration: Fig. 91. A single-blade wheel-hoe.]
[Illustration: Fig. 92. Double wheel-hoe, useful in straddling the row.]
For still smaller areas, in which horses cannot be used and which are
still too large for tilling wholly by means of hoes and rakes, various
types of wheel-hoes may be used. These implements are now made in great
variety of patterns, to suit any taste and almost any kind of tillage.
For the best results, it is essential that the wheel should be large and
with a broad tire, that it may override obstacles. Figure 90 shows an
excellent type of wheel-hoe with five blades, and Fig. 91 shows one with
a single blade and that may be used in very narrow rows. Two-wheeled
hoes (Fig. 92) are often used, particularly when it is necessary to have
the implement very steady, and the wheels may straddle the rows of low
plants. Many of these wheel-hoes are provided with various shapes of
blades, so that the implement may be adjusted to many kinds of work.
Nearly all the weeding of beds of onions and like plants can be done by
means of these wheel-hoes, if the ground is well prepared in the
beginning; but it must be remembered that they are of comparatively
small use on very hard and cloddy and stony lands.
_The saving of moisture._
The garden must have a liberal supply of moisture. The first effort
toward securing this supply should be the saving of the rainfall water.
Proper preparation and tillage put the land in such condition that it
holds the water of rainfall. Land that is very hard and compact may shed
the rainfall, particularly if it is sloping and if the surface is bare
of vegetation. If the hard-pan is near the surface, the land cannot hold
much water, and any ordinary rainfall may fill it so full that it
overflows, or puddles stand on the surface. On land in good tilth, the
water of rainfall sinks away, and is not visible as free water.
As soon as the moisture begins to pass from the superincumbent
atmosphere, evaporation begins from the surface of the land. Any body
interposed between the land and the air checks this evaporation; this is
why there is moisture underneath a board. It is impracticable, however,
to floor over the garden with boards, but any covering will have similar
effect, but in different degree. A covering of sawdust or leaves or dry
ashes will prevent the loss of moisture. So will a covering of dry
earth. Now, inasmuch as the land is already covered with earth, it only
remains to loosen up a layer or stratum on top in order to secure
the mulch.
All this is only a roundabout way of saying that frequent shallow
surface tillage conserves moisture. The comparatively dry and loose
mulch breaks up the capillary connection between the surface soil and
the under soil, and while the mulch itself may be useless as a foraging
ground for roots, it more than pays its keep by its preventing of the
loss of moisture; and its own soluble plant-foods are washed down into
the lower soil by the rains.
As often as the surface becomes compact, the mulch should be renewed or
repaired by the use of the rake or cultivator or harrow. Persons are
deceived by supposing that so long as the surface remains moist, the
land is in the best possible condition; a moist surface may mean that
water is rapidly passing off into the atmosphere. A dry surface may mean
that less evaporation is taking place, and there may be moister earth
beneath it; and moisture is needed below the surface rather than on top.
A finely raked bed is dry on top; but the footprints of the cat remain
moist, for the animal packed the soil wherever it stepped and a
capillary connection was established with the water reservoir beneath.
Gardeners advise firming the earth over newly planted seeds to hasten
germination. This is essential in dry times; but what we gain in
hastening germination we lose in the more rapid evaporation of moisture.
The lesson is that we should loosen the soil as soon as the seeds have
germinated, to reduce evaporation to the minimum. Large seeds, as beans
and peas, may be planted deep and have the earth firmed about them, and
then the rake may be applied to the surface to stop the rise of moisture
before it reaches the air.
Two illustrations, adapted from Roberts's "Fertility," show good and
poor preparation of the land. Figure 93 is a section of land twelve
inches deep. The under soil has been finely broken and pulverized and
then compacted. It is mellow but firm, and is an excellent water
reservoir. Three inches of the surface is a mulch of loose and dry
earth. Figure 94 shows an earth-mulch, but it is too shallow; and the
under soil is so open and cloddy that the water runs through it.
[Illustration: Fig. 93. To illustrate good preparation of ground.]
When the land is once properly prepared, the soil-mulch is maintained by
surface-working tools. In field practice, these tools are harrows and
horse cultivators of various kinds; in home garden practice they are
wheel-hoes, rakes, and many patterns of hand hoes and scarifiers, with
finger-weeders and other small implements for work directly among
the plants.
[Illustration: 94. To illustrate poor preparation of ground.]
A garden soil is not in good condition when it is hard and crusted on
top. The crust may be the cause of wasting water, it keeps out the air,
and in general it is an uncongenial physical condition; but its
evaporation of water is probably its chief defect. Instead of pouring
water on the land, therefore, we first attempt to keep the moisture in
the land. If, however, the soil becomes so dry in spite of you that the
plants do not thrive, then water the bed. Do not _sprinkle_ it, but
_water_ it. Wet it clear through at evening. Then in the morning, when
the earth begins to dry, loosen the surface again to keep the water from
getting away. Sprinkling the plants every day or two is one of the
surest ways of spoiling them. We may water the ground with a
_Hand tools for weeding and subsequent tillage and other hand work._
Any of the cultivators and wheel-hoes are as useful for the subsequent
tilling of the crop as for the initial preparation of the land, but
there are other tools also that greatly facilitate the keeping of the
plantation in order. Yet wholly aside from the value of a tool as an
implement of tillage and as a weapon for the pursuit of weeds, is its
merit merely as a shapely and interesting instrument. A man will take
infinite pains to choose a gun or a fishing-rod to his liking, and a