Part 2 out of 10
and meaning. The borders of a place are of less importance than its
_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
EXECUTION OF SOME OF THE LANDSCAPE FEATURES
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
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.
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
[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
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
[Illustration: Fig. 72. Draining the gutter and the drive.]
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
THE HANDLING OF THE LAND
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
[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
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
[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
woman gives her best attention to the selecting of an umbrella; but a
hoe is only a hoe and a rake only a rake. If one puts his personal
choice into the securing of plants for a garden, so should he
discriminate in the choice of hand tools, to secure those that are
light, trim, well made, and precisely adapted to the work to be
accomplished. A case of neat garden tools ought to be a great joy to a
joyful gardener. So I am willing to enlarge on the subject of hoes and
[Illustration: 95. Useful forms of hoe-blades.]
The common rectangular-bladed hoe is so thoroughly established in the
popular mind that it is very difficult to introduce new patterns, even
though they may be intrinsically superior. As a general-purpose tool, it
is no doubt true that a common hoe is better than any of its
modifications, but there are various patterns of hoe-blades that are
greatly superior for special uses, and which ought to appeal to any
quiet soul who loves a garden.
[Illustration: Fig. 96. A stack of gardening weapons, comprising some of
Tarryer's weeding spuds and thimbles.]
The great width of the common blade does not admit of its being used in
very narrow rows or very close to delicate plants, and it does not allow
of the deep stirring of the soil in narrow spaces. It is also difficult
to enter hard ground with such a broad face. Various pointed blades have
been introduced from time to time, and most of them have merit. Some
persons prefer two points to the hoe, as shown in Marvin's blades, in
Fig. 95. These interesting shapes represent the suggestions of
gardeners who will not be bound by what the market affords, but who have
blades cut and fitted for their own satisfaction.
Persons who followed the entertaining writings of one who called himself
Mr. A.B. Tarryer, in "American Garden," a few years back, will recall
the great variety of implements that he advised for the purpose of
extirpating his hereditary foes, the weeds. A variety of these blades
and tools is shown in Figs. 96 and 97. I shall let Mr. Tarryer tell his
story at some length in order to lead my reader painlessly into a new
field of gardening pleasures.
Mr. Tarryer contends that the wheel-hoe is much too clumsy an affair to
allow of the pursuit of an individual weed. While the operator is busy
adjusting his machine and manipulating it about the corners of the
garden, the quack-grass has escaped over the fence or has gone to seed
at the other end of the plantation. He devised an expeditious tool for
each little work to be performed on the garden,--for hard ground and
soft, for old weeds and young (one of his implements was denominated
[Illustration: Fig. 97. Some of the details of the Tarryer tools.]
"Scores of times during the season," Mr. Tarryer writes, "the ten or
fifteen minutes one has to enjoy in the flower, fruit, and vegetable
garden--and that would suffice for the needful weeding with the hoes we
are celebrating--would be lost in harnessing horses or adjusting and
oiling squeaky wheel-hoes, even if everybody had them. The 'American
Garden' is not big enough, nor my patience long enough, to give more
than an inkling of the unspeakable merits of these weapons of society
and civilization. When Mrs. Tarryer was showing twelve or fifteen acres
of garden with never a weed to be seen, she valued her dozen or more of
these light implements at five or ten dollars daily; whether they were
in actual use or adorning the front hall, like a hunter's or angler's
furniture, made no difference. But where are these millennial tools made
and sold? Nowhere. They are as unknown as the Bible was in the dark
ages, and we must give a few hints towards manufacturing them.
"First, about the handles. The ordinary dealer or workman may say these
knobs can be formed on any handles by winding them with leather; but
just fancy a young maiden setting up her hoe meditatively and resting
her hands and chin upon an old leather knob to reflect upon something
that has been said to her in the garden, and we shall perceive that a
knob by some other name would smell far sweeter. Moreover, trees grow
large enough at the butt to furnish all the knobs we want--even for
broom-sticks--though sawyers, turners, dealers, and the public seem not
to be aware of it; yet it must be confessed we are so far gone in
depravity that there will be trouble in getting those handles....
"In a broadcast prayer of this public nature, absolute specifications
would not be polite. Black walnut and butternut are fragrant as well as
beautiful timber. Cherry is stiff, heavy, durable, and, like maple,
takes a slippery polish. For fine, light handles, that the palm will
stick to, butt cuts of poplar or cottonwood cannot be excelled, yet
straight-grained ash will bear more careless usage.
"The handles of Mrs. Tarryer's hoes are never perfectly straight. All
the bayonet class bend downward in use half an inch or more; all the
thrust-hoe handles bend up in a regular curve (like a fiddle-bow turned
over) two or three inches. Unless they are hung right, these hoes are
very awkward things. When perfectly fit for one, they may not fit
another; that is, a tall, keen-sighted person cannot use the hoe that is
just fit for a very short one.... Curves in the handles throw centers of
gravity where they belong. Good timber generally warps in a handle about
right, only implement makers and babes in weeding may not know when it
is made fast right side up in the hoe.
"There are plenty of thrust-hoes in market, such as they are. Some have
malleable iron sockets and bows--heavier to the buyer and cheaper to the
dealer--instead of wrought-iron and steel, such as is required for
[Illustration: 98. A scarifier.]
[Illustration: 99. Home-made scarifier.]
[Illustration: 100. Home-made scarifier or scraper.]
For many purposes, tools that scrape or scarify the surface are
preferable to hoes that dig up the ground. Weeds may be kept down by
cutting them off, as in walks and often in flower-beds, rather than by
rooting them out. Figure 98 shows such a tool, and a home-made implement
answering the same purpose is illustrated in Fig. 99. This latter tool
is easily made from strong band-iron. Another type is suggested in Fig.
100, representing a slicing-hoe made by fastening a sheet of good metal
to the tines of a broken fork. The kind chiefly in the market is shown
in Fig. 101.
[Illustration: 101. The common scarifier.]
[Illustration: 102. Good hand-weeders.]
[Illustration: 103. A hand-weeder.]
[Illustration: 104. A finger-weeder.]
[Illustration: 105. A small hand-weeder.]
For small beds of flowers or vegetables, hand-weeders of various
patterns are essential to easy and efficient work. One of the best
patterns, with long and short handles, is shown in Fig. 102. Another
style, that may be made at home of hoop-iron, is drawn in Fig. 103. A
finger-weeder is illustrated in Fig. 104. In Fig. 105 a common form is
shown. Many patterns of hand-weeders are in the market, and other forms
will suggest themselves to the operator.
Trowels and their kind.
Small hand-tools for digging, as trowels, dibbers, and spuds, may be had
of dealers. In buying a trowel it is economy to pay an extra price and
secure a steel blade with a strong shank that runs through the entire
length of the handle. One of these tools will last several years and
may be used in hard ground, but the cheap trowels are generally hardly
worth the buying. A solid wrought-iron trowel all in one piece is also
manufactured, and is the most durable pattern. A steel trowel may be
secured to a long handle; or the blade of a broken trowel may be
utilized in the same way (Fig. 106). A very good trowel may also be made
from a discarded blade of a mowing machine (Fig. 107), and it answers
the purpose of a hand-weeder.
[Illustration: Fig. 106. Long-handled trowel.]
[Illustration: Fig. 107. Improvised trowel.]
[Illustration: Fig. 108. Weed-spud.]
[Illustration: Fig. 109. A good weed-spud.]
[Illustration: Fig. 110. Weed-cutter.]
[Illustration: Fig. 111. A weed-spud that lifts the weed.]
Weed-spuds are shown in Figs. 108 to 111. The first is particularly
serviceable in cutting docks and other strong weeds from lawns and
pastures. It is provided with a brace to allow it to be thrust into the
ground with the foot. It is seldom necessary to dig out perennial weeds
to the tips of their deep roots, if the crown is severed a short
distance below the surface.
It is often essential that the land be compacted after it has been
spaded or hoed, and some kind of hand-roller is then useful. Very
efficient iron rollers are in the market, but a good one can be made
from a hard chestnut or oak log, as shown in Fig. 112. (It should be
remembered that when the surface is hard and compact, water escapes from
it rapidly, and plants may suffer for moisture on arrival of warm
weather.) The roller is useful in two ways--to compact the
under-surface, in which case the surface should be again loosened as
soon as the rolling is done; and to firm the earth about seeds (page 98)
or the roots of newly set plants.
[Illustration: Fig. 112. Hand-roller.]
[Illustration: Fig. 113. Roller and marker.]
[Illustration: Fig. 114. Roller and marker.]
[Illustration: Fig. 115. Marking-stick.]
A marker may often be combined with the roller to good advantage, as in
Fig. 113. Ropes are secured about the cylinder at proper intervals, and
these mark the rows. Knots may be placed in the ropes to indicate the
places where plants are to be set or seeds dropped. An extension of the
same idea is seen in Fig. 114, which shows iron or wooden pegs that make
holes in which very small plants may be set. An L-shaped rod projects at
one side to mark the place of the next row.
[Illustration: Fig. 116. Tool for spacing plants.]
[Illustration: Fig. 117. Barrow rigged with a marker.]
[Illustration: Fig. 118. Hand sled-marker.]
In most cases the best and most expeditious method of marking out the
garden is by the use of the garden line, which is secured to a reel
(Fig. 96), but various other devices are often useful. For very small
beds, drills or furrows may be made by a simple marking-stick (Fig.
115). A handy marker is shown in Fig. 116. A marker can be rigged to a
wheel-barrow, as in Fig. 117. A rod is secured underneath the front
truss, and from its end an adjustable trailer, B, is hung. The wheel of
the barrow marks the row, and the trailer indicates the place of the
next row, thereby keeping the rows parallel. A hand sled-marker is shown
in Fig. 118, and a similar device may be secured to the frame of a sulky
cultivator (Fig. 119) or other wheel tool. A good adjustable sled-marker
is outlined in Fig. 120.
[Illustration: Fig. 119. Trailing sled-marker.]
[Illustration: Fig. 120. Adjustable sled-marker.]
_Enriching the land._
Two problems are involved in the fertilizing of the land: the direct
addition of plant-food, and the improvement of the physical structure of
the soil. The latter office is often the more important.
Lands that, on the one hand, are very hard and solid, with a tendency to
bake, and, on the other, that are loose and leachy, are very greatly
benefited by the addition of organic matter. When this organic
matter--as animal and plant remains--decays and becomes thoroughly
incorporated with the soil, it forms what is called humus. The addition
of this humus makes the land mellow, friable, retentive of moisture, and
promotes the general chemical activities of the soil. It also puts the
soil in the best physical condition for the comfort and well-being of
the plants. Very many of the lands that are said to be exhausted of
plant-food still contain enough potash, phosphoric acid, and lime, and
other fertilizing elements, to produce good crops; but they have been
greatly injured in their physical condition by long-continued cropping,
injudicious tillage, and the withholding of vegetable matter. A part of
the marked results secured from the plowing under of clover is due to
the incorporation of vegetable matter, wholly aside from the addition of
fertilizing material; and this is emphatically true of clover because
its deep-growing roots penetrate and break up the subsoil.
Muck and leafmold are often very useful in ameliorating either very hard
or very loose lands. Excellent humous material may be constantly at hand
if the leaves, garden refuse, and some of the manure are piled and
composted (p. 114). If the pile is turned several times a year, the
material becomes fine and uniform in texture.
The various questions associated with the fertilizing of the land are
too large to be considered in detail here. Persons who desire to
familiarize themselves with the subject should consult recent books. It
may be said, however, that, as a rule, most lands contain all the
elements of plant-food in sufficient quantities except potash,
phosphoric acid, and nitrogen. In many cases, lime is very beneficial to
land, usually because it corrects acidity and has a mechanical effect in
pulverizing and flocculating clay and in cementing sands.
The chief sources of commercial potash are muriate of potash, sulfate of
potash, and wood ashes. For general purposes, the muriate of potash is
now recommended, because it is comparatively cheap and the composition
is uniform. A normal application of muriate of potash is 200 to 300
pounds to the acre; but on some lands, where the greatest results are
demanded, sometimes as much as twice this application may be made.
Phosphoric acid is got in dissolved South Carolina and Florida rock and
in various bone preparations. These materials are applied at the rate of
200 to 400 pounds to the acre.
Commercial nitrogen is secured chiefly in the form of animal refuse, as
blood and tankage, and in nitrate of soda. It is more likely to be lost
by leaching through the land than the mineral substances are, especially
if the land lacks humus. Nitrate of soda is very soluble, and should be
applied in small quantities at intervals. Nitrogen, being the element
which is mostly conducive to vegetative growth, tends to delay the
season of maturity if applied heavily or late in the season. From 100 to
300 pounds of nitrate of soda may be applied to the acre, but it is
ordinarily better to make two or three applications at intervals of
three to six weeks. Fertilizing materials may be applied either in fall
or spring; but in the case of nitrate of soda it is usually better not
to apply in the fall unless the land has plenty of humus to prevent
leaching, or on plants that start very early in the spring.
Fertilizing material is sown broadcast, or it may be scattered lightly
in furrows underneath the seeds, and then covered with earth. If sown
broadcast, it may be applied either after the seeds are sown or before.
It is usually better to apply it before, for although the rains carry it
down, nevertheless the upward movement of water during the dry weather
of the summer tends to bring it back to the surface. It is important
that large lumps of fertilizer, especially muriate of potash and nitrate
of soda, do not fall near the crowns of the plants; otherwise the plants
may be seriously injured. It is a general principle, also, that it is
best to use more sparingly of fertilizers than of tillage. The tendency
is to make fertilizers do penance for the sins of neglect, but the
results do not often meet one's expectations.
If one has only a small garden or a home yard, it ordinarily will not
pay him to buy the chemicals separately, as suggested above, but he may
purchase a complete fertilizer that is sold under a trademark or brand,
and has a guaranteed analysis. If one is raising plants chiefly for
their foliage, as rhubarb and ornamental bushes, he should choose a
fertilizer comparatively rich in nitrogen; but if he desires chiefly
fruit and flowers, the mineral elements, as potash and phosphoric acid,
should usually be high. If one uses the chemicals, it is not necessary
that they be mixed before application; in fact, it is usually better not
to mix them, because some plants and some soils need more of one element
than of another. Just what materials, and how much, different soils and
plants require must be determined by the grower himself by observation
and experiment; and it is one of the satisfactions of gardening to
arrive at discrimination in such matters.
Muriate of potash costs $40 and upwards per ton, sulfate about $48,
dissolved boneblack about $24, ground bone about $30, kainit about $13,
and nitrate of soda about 2-1/4 cents per pound. These prices vary, of
course, with the composition or mechanical condition of materials, and
with the state of the market. The average composition of unleached wood
ashes in the market is about as follows: Potash, 5.2 per cent;
phosphoric acid, 1.70 per cent; lime, 34 per cent; magnesia, 3.40 per
cent. The average composition of kainit is 13.54 per cent potash, 1.15
per cent lime.
The fact that the soil itself is the greatest storehouse of plant-food
is shown by the following average of thirty-five analyses of the total
content of the first eight inches of surface soils, per acre: 3521
pounds of nitrogen, 4400 pounds of phosphoric acid, 19,836 pounds of
potash. Much of this is unavailable, but good tillage, green-manuring,
and proper management tend to unlock it and at the same time to save it
Every careful gardener will take satisfaction in saving leaves and
trimmings and stable refuse and making compost of it to supplement the
native supplies in the soil. Some out-of-the-way corner will be found
for a permanent pile, with room for piling it over from time to time.
The pile will be screened by his garden planting. (Figure 121 suggests a
useful cart for collecting such materials.) He will also save the power
of his land by changing his crops to other parts of the garden, year by
year, not growing his China asters or his snap-dragons or his potatoes
or strawberries continuously on the same area; and thus, also, will his
garden have a new face every year.
[Illustration: Fig 121. A good cart for collecting leaves and other
Lest the reader may get the idea that there is no limit to be placed on
the enriching of the soil, I will caution him at the end of my
discussion that he may easily make the place so rich that some plants
will overgrow and will not come into flowering or fruiting before frost,
and flowers may lack brilliancy. On very rich land, scarlet sage will
grow to great size but will not bloom in the northern season; sweet peas
will run to vine; gaillardias and some other plants will break down;
tomatoes and melons and peppers may be so late that the fruit will not
ripen. Only experience and good judgment will safeguard the gardener as
to how far he should or should not go.
THE HANDLING OF THE PLANTS
There is a knack in the successful handling of plants that it is
impossible to describe in print. All persons can improve their practice
through diligent reading of useful gardening literature, but no amount
of reading and advice will make a good gardener of a person who does not
love to dig in a garden or who does not have a care for plants just
because they are plants.
To grow a plant well, one must learn its natural habits. Some persons
learn this as if by intuition, acquiring the knowledge from close
discrimination of the behavior of the plant. Often they are themselves
unconscious of this knack of knowing what will make the plant to thrive;
but it is not at all necessary to have such an intuitive judgment to
enable one to be even more than a fairly good gardener. Diligent
attention to the plant's habits and requirements, and a real regard for
the plant's welfare, will make any person a successful plant-grower.
Some of the things that a person should know about any plant he would
grow are these:--
Whether the plant matures in the first, second, third, or subsequent
years; and when it naturally begins to fail.
The time of the year or season in which it normally grows, blooms, or
fruits; and whether it can be forced at other seasons.
Whether it prefers a situation dry or moist or wet, hot or cool, sunny
Its preferences as to soil, whether very rich or only moderately rich,
sand or loam, or peat or clay.
Its hardiness as to frost, wind, drought, heat.
Whether it has any special requirements as to germination, and whether
it transplants well.
Whether it is specially liable to attack by insects or disease.
Whether it has a special inability to grow two years in succession on
the same land.
Having suited the situation to the plant, and having prepared the ground
well and made a resolution to keep it well, special attention must be
given to such matters as these:--
Guarding from all insects and diseases; and also from cats and chickens
and dogs; and likewise from rabbits and mice.
Protecting from weeds.
Pruning, in the case of fruit trees and bushes, and also of ornamental
woody plants on occasion, and sometimes even of annual herbs.
Staking and tying, particularly of sprawly garden flowers.
Persistent picking of seed pods or dead flowers from flower plants, in
order to conserve the strength of the plant and to prolong its season
Watering in dry weather (but not sprinkling or dribbling).
Thorough winter protecting of plants that need it.
Removing dead leaves, broken branches, weak and sickly plants, and
otherwise keeping the place tidy and trim.
_Sowing the seeds._
Prepare the surface earth well, to make a good seed-bed. Plant when the
ground is moist, if possible, and preferably just before a rain if the
soil is of such character that it will not bake. For shallow-planted
seeds, firm the earth above them by walking over the row or by patting
it down with a hoe. Special care should be exercised not to sow very
small and slow-germinating seeds, as celery, carrot, onion, in poorly
prepared soil or in ground that bakes. With such seeds it is well to
sow seeds of radish or turnip, for these germinate quickly and break the
crust, and also mark the row so that tillage may be begun before the
regular-crop seeds are up.
Land may be prevented from baking over the seeds by scattering a very
thin layer of fine litter, as chaff, or of sifted moss or mold, over the
row. A board is sometimes laid on the row to retain the moisture, but it
must be lifted gradually just as soon as the plants begin to break the
ground, or the plants will be greatly injured. Whenever practicable,
seed-beds of celery and other slow-germinating seeds should be shaded.
If the beds are watered, be careful that the soil is not packed by the
force of the water or baked by the sun. In thickly sown seed-beds, thin
or transplant the plants as soon as they have made their first
For most home-grounds, seeds may be sown by hand, but for large areas of
one crop, one of the many kinds of seed-sowers may be used. The
particular methods of sowing seeds are usually specified in the seed
catalogues, if other than ordinary treatment is required. The
sled-markers (already described, p. 108) open a furrow of sufficient
depth for the planting of most seeds. If marker furrows are not
available, a furrow may be opened with a hoe for such deep-planted seeds
as peas and sweet peas, or by a trowel or end of a rakestale for smaller
seeds. In narrow beds or boxes, a stick or ruler (Fig. 115) may be used
for opening creases to receive the seeds.
The depth at which seeds are to be planted varies with the kind, the
soil and its preparation, the season, and whether they are planted in
the open or in the house. In boxes and under glass, it is a good rule
that the seed be sown at a depth equal to twice its own diameter, but
deeper sowing is usually necessary out of doors, particularly in hot and
dry weather. Strong and hardy seeds, as peas, sweet peas, large
fruit-tree seeds, may be planted three to six inches deep. Tender seeds,
that are injured by cold and wet, may be planted after the ground is
settled and warm at a greater depth than before that season. As a rule,
nothing is gained by sowing tender seeds before the weather is
thoroughly settled and the ground warm.
_Propagating by cuttings._
Many common plants are propagated by cuttings rather than by seeds,
particularly when it is desired to increase a particular variety.
Cuttings are parts of plants inserted in soil or water with the
intention that they shall grow and make new plants. They are of various
kinds. They may be classified, with reference to the age of the wood or
tissue, into two classes; viz. those made from perfectly hard or dormant
wood (taken from the winter twigs of trees and bushes), and those made
from more or less immature or growing wood. They may be classified again
in respect to the part of the plants from which they are taken, as
root-cuttings, tuber-cuttings (as the ordinary "seed" planted for
potatoes), stem-cuttings, and leaf-cuttings.
Dormant-wood cuttings are used for grapes (Fig. 122), currants,
gooseberries, willows, poplars, and many other kinds of soft-wooded
trees and shrubs. Such cuttings are ordinarily taken in fall or winter,
but cut into the proper lengths and then buried in sand or moss where
they do not freeze, in order that the lower end may heal over or
callous. In the spring these cuttings are set in the ground, preferably
in a rather sandy and well-drained place.
[Illustration: Fig. 122. The planting of the dormant-wood cuttings.]
Usually, hardwood cuttings are made with two to four joints or buds, and
when they are planted, only the upper bud projects above the ground.
They may be planted erect, as Fig. 122 shows, or somewhat slanting. In
order that the cutting may reach down to moist earth, it is desirable
that it should not be less than 6 in. long; and it is sometimes better
if it is 8 to 12 in. If the wood is short-jointed, there may be several
buds on a cutting of this length; and in order to prevent too many
shoots from arising from these buds the lowermost buds are often cut
out. Roots will start as readily if the lower buds are removed, since
the buds grow into shoots and not into roots.
[Illustration: Fig. 123. Carnation cutting.]
Cuttings of currants, grapes, gooseberries, and the like may be set in
rows that are far enough apart to admit of easy tillage either with
horse or hand tools, and the cuttings may be placed 3 to 8 in. apart in
the row. The English varieties of gooseberries, considerably grown in
this country, do not propagate readily from cuttings.
After the cuttings have grown one season, the plants are usually
transplanted and given more room for the second year's growth, after
which time they are ready to be set in permanent plantations. In some
cases, the plants are set at the end of the first year; but two-year
plants are stronger and usually preferable.
Cuttings of roots.
Root-cuttings are used for blackberries, raspberries, and a few other
things. They are ordinarily made of roots from the size of a lead pencil
to one's little finger, and are cut in lengths from 3 to 5 in. long. The
cuttings are stored the same as stem-cuttings and allowed to callous. In
the spring they are planted in a horizontal or nearly horizontal
position in moist sandy soil, being entirely covered to a depth of 1
or 2 in.
Softwood or greenwood cuttings are usually made of wood that is mature
enough to break when it is bent sharply. When the wood is so soft that
it will bend and not break, it is too immature, in the majority of
plants, for the making of good cuttings.
[Illustration: Fig. 124. Verbena cutting.]
One to two joints is the proper length of a greenwood cutting. If of two
joints, the lower leaves should be cut off and the upper leaves cut in
two so that they do not present their entire surface to the air and
thereby evaporate the plant juices too rapidly. If the cutting is of
only one joint, the lower end is usually cut just above a joint. In
either case, the cuttings are usually inserted in sand or well-washed
gravel, nearly or quite up to the leaves. Keep the bed uniformly moist
throughout its depth, but avoid any soil which holds so much moisture
that it becomes muddy and sour. These cuttings should be shaded until
they begin to emit their roots. Coleus, geraniums, fuchsias, carnations,
and nearly all the common greenhouse and house plants, are propagated by
these cuttings or slips (Figs. 123, 124).
Cuttings of leaves.
Leaf-cuttings are often used for the fancy-leaved begonias, gloxinias,
and a few other plants. The young plant usually arises most readily from
the leaf-stalk or petiole. The leaf, therefore, is inserted into the
ground much as a green cutting is. Begonia leaves will throw out young
plants from the main ribs when these veins or ribs are cut. Therefore,
well-grown and firm begonia leaves are sometimes laid flat on the sand
and the main veins cut; then the leaf is weighted down with pebbles or
pegs so that these cut surfaces come into intimate contact with the soil
beneath. The usual way, however, is to cut a triangular piece of the
leaf (Fig. 125) and insert the tip in sand. So long as the cutting is
alive, do not be discouraged, even if it do not start.
[Illustration: VIII. A well-planted entrance. Common trees and bushes,
with Boston ivy on the post, and _Berberis Thunbergii_ in front.]
General treatment of cuttings.
In the growing of all greenwood and leaf-cuttings, it is well to
remember that they should have a gentle bottom heat; the soil should be
such that it will hold moisture and yet not remain wet; the air about
the tops should not become close and stagnant, else the plants will damp
off; and the tops should be shaded for a time. In order to control all
the conditions, such cuttings are grown under cover, as in a greenhouse,
coldframe, or a box in the residence window.
[Illustration: Fig. 125. Leaf-cutting.]
[Illustration: Fig. 126. Cuttings inserted in a double pot.]
An excellent method of starting cuttings in the living room is to make a
double pot, as shown in Fig. 126. Inside a 6-in. pot set a 4-in. pot.
Fill the bottom, _a,_ with gravel or bits of brick, for drainage. Plug
the hole in the inside pot. Fill the spaces between, _c,_ with earth,
and in this set the cuttings. Water may be poured into the inner pot,
_b,_ to supply the moisture.
_Transplanting young seedlings._
In the transplanting of cabbages, tomatoes, flowers, and all plants
recently started from seeds, it is important that the ground be
thoroughly fined and compacted. Plants usually live better if
transplanted into ground that has been freshly turned. If possible,
transplant in cloudy or rainy weather, particularly if late in the
season. Firm the earth snugly about the roots with the hands or feet, in
order to bring up the soil moisture; but it is generally best to rake
the surface in order to reestablish the earth-mulch, unless the plants
are so small that their roots cannot reach through the mulch (p. 98).
[Illustration: Fig. 127. To check evaporation at transplanting.]
If the plants are taken from pots, water the pots some time in advance,
and the ball of earth will fall out when the pot is inverted and tapped
lightly. In taking up plants from the ground, it is advisable, also, to
water them well some time before removing; the earth may then be held on
the roots. See that the watering is done far enough in advance to allow
the water to settle away and distribute itself; the earth should not be
muddy when the plants are removed.
[Illustration: Fig. 128. Plants sheared and not sheared when
In order to reduce the evaporation from the plant, shingles may be stuck
into the ground to shade the plant; or a screen may be improvised with
pieces of paper (Fig. 122), tin cans, inverted flower-pots, coverings of
brush, or other means.
It is nearly always advisable to remove some of the foliage,
particularly if the plant has several leaves and if it has not been
grown in a pot, and also if the transplanting is done in warm weather.
Figure 128 shows a good treatment for transplanted plants. With the
foliage all left on, the plants are likely to behave as in the upper
row; but with most of it cut off, as in the lower row, there is little
wilting, and new leaves soon start. Figure 129 also shows what part of
the leaves may be cut off on transplanting. If the ground is freshly
turned and the transplanting is well done, it rarely will be necessary
to water the plants; but if watering is necessary, it should be done at
nightfall, and the surface should be loosened the next morning or as
soon as it becomes dry.
[Illustration: Fig. 129. Where to shear the tops of young plants.]
[Illustration: Fig. 130. Trowel dibber.]
[Illustration: Fig. 131. The dibber.]
[Illustration: Fig. 132. Home-made padded dibber.]
In the transplanting of young plants, some kind of a dibber should be
used to make the holes. Dibbers make holes without removing any of the
earth. A good form of dibber is shown in Fig. 130, which is like a flat
or plane trowel. Many persons prefer a cylindrical and conical dibber,
like that shown in Fig. 131. For hard soils and larger plants, a strong
dibber may be made from a limb that has a right-angled branch to serve
as a handle. This handle may be softened by slipping a piece of rubber
hose on it (Fig. 132). A long iron dibber, which may also be used as a
crow-bar, is shown in Fig. 133. In transplanting with the dibber, a hole
is first made by a thrust of the tool, and the earth is then pressed
against the root by means of the foot, hand, or the dibber itself (as in
Fig. 131). The hole is not filled by putting in dirt at the top.
[Illustration: Fig. 133. Dibber and crow-bar combined.]
[Illustration: Fig. 134. Strawberry planter.]
For large plants, a broader dibber may be used. An implement like that
shown in Fig. 134 is useful for setting strawberries and other plants
with large roots. It is made of two-inch plank, with a block on top to
act as foot-rest and to prevent the blade from going too deep. In order
to provide space for the foot and easily to direct the thrust, the
handle may be placed at one side of the middle. For plunging pots, a
dibber like that shown in Fig. 135 is useful, particularly when the soil
is so hard that a long-pointed tool is necessary. The bottom of the hole
may be filled with earth before the pot is inserted; but it is often
advisable to leave the vacant space below (as in _b_) to provide
drainage, to keep the plant from rooting, and to prevent earth-worms
from entering the hole in the bottom of the pot. For smaller pots, the
tool may be inserted a less depth (as at _c_).
[Illustration: Fig. 135. The plunging of pots.]
_Transplanting established plants and trees._
In setting potted plants out of doors, it is nearly always advisable to
plunge them,--that is to set the pots into the earth,--unless the place
is very wet. The pots are then watered by the rainfall, and demand
little care. If the plants are to be returned to the house in the fall,
they should not be allowed to root through the hole in the pot, and the
rooting may be prevented by turning the pot around every few days. Large
decorative plants may be made to look as if growing naturally in the
lawn by sinking the pot or box just below the surface and rolling the
sod over it, as suggested in Fig. 136. A space around and below the tub
may be provided to insure drainage.
[Illustration: Fig. 136. Setting large tub-plants in the lawn.]
[Illustration: Fig. 137. Plant-box with a movable side.]
For the shifting of very large tub-plants, a box or tub with movable
sides, as in Fig. 137, is handy and efficient. The plant-box recommended
to parties who grew plants for exhibition at the World's Fair is shown
in Fig. 138. It is made of strong boards or planks. At A is shown the
inside of one of two opposite sections or sides, four feet wide at top,
three feet wide at bottom, and three feet high. The cleats are
two-by-four scantlings, through which holes are bored to admit the bolts
with which the box is to be held together. B is an outside view of one
of the alternating sections, three feet four inches wide at top, two
feet four inches at bottom, and three feet deep. A one-by-six strip is
nailed through the center to give strength. C is an end view of A,
showing the bolts and also a two-by-four cleat to which the bottom is to
be nailed. This box was used mostly for transporting large growing
stock to the exposition, the stock having been dug from the open and the
box secured around the ball of earth.
[Illustration: Fig. 138. Box for transporting large transplanted stock.]
When to transplant.
In general, it is best to set hardy plants in the fall, particularly if
the ground is fairly dry and the exposure is not too bleak. To this
class belong most of the fruit trees and ornamental trees and shrubs;
also hardy herbs, as columbines, peonies, lilies, bleeding-hearts, and
the like. They should be planted as soon as they are thoroughly mature,
so that the leaves begin to fall naturally. If any leaves remain on the
tree or bush at planting time, strip them off, unless the plant is an
evergreen. It is generally best not to cut back fall-planted trees to
the full extent desired, but to shorten them three-fourths of the
required amount in the fall, and take off the remaining fourth in the
spring, so that no dead or dry tips are left on the plant. Evergreens,
as pines and spruces, are not headed-in much, and usually not at all.
All tender and very small plants should be set in the spring, in which
case very early planting is desirable; and spring planting is always to
be advised when the ground is not thoroughly drained and well prepared.
Depth to transplant.
In well-compacted land, trees and shrubs should be set at about the same
depth as they stood in the nursery, but if the land has been deeply
trenched or if it is loose from other causes, the plants should be set
deeper, because the earth will probably settle. The hole should be
filled with fine surface earth. It is generally not advisable to place
manure in the hole, but if it is used, it should be of small amount and
very thoroughly mixed with the earth, else it will cause the soil to dry
out. In lawns and other places where surface tillage cannot be given, a
light mulch of litter or manure may be placed about the plants; but the
earth-mulch (page 98), when it can be secured, is much the best
conserver of moisture.
Making the rows straight.
[Illustration: Fig. 139. A planting board.]
In order to set trees in rows, it is necessary to use a garden line
(Fig. 96), or to mark out the ground with some of the devices already
described (Figs. 113-120); or in large areas, the place may be staked
out. In planting orchards, the area is laid out (preferably by a
surveyor) with two or more rows of stakes so placed that a man may sight
from one fixed point to another. Two or three men work to best advantage
in such planting.
[Illustration: Fig. 140. Device for placing the tree.]
There are various devices for locating the place of the stake after the
stake has been removed and the hole dug, in case the area is not
regularly staked out in such a way that sighting across the area may be
employed. One of the simplest is shown in Fig. 139. It is a narrow and
thin board with a notch in the center and a peg in either end, one of
the pegs being stationary. The implement is so placed that the notch
meets the stake, then one end of it is thrown out of the way until the
hole is dug. When the implement is brought again to its original
position, the notch mark's the place of the stake and the tree. Figure
140 is a device with a lid, in the end of which is a notch to mark the
place of the stake. This lid is thrown back, as shown by the dotted
lines, when the hole is being dug. Figure 141 shows a method of bringing
trees in row by measuring from a line.
[Illustration: Fig. 141. Lining a tree from a stake.]
In the planting of any tree or bush, the roots should be cut back beyond
all breaks and serious bruises, and fine earth should be thoroughly
filled in and firmed about them, as in Fig. 142. No implement is so good
as the fingers for working the soil about the roots. If the tree has
many roots, work it up and down slightly several times during the
filling of the hole, to settle the earth in place. When the earth is
thrown in carelessly, the roots are jammed together, and often an empty
place is left beneath the crown, as in Fig. 143, which causes the roots
to dry out.
[Illustration: Fig. 142: Proper planting of a tree.]
[Illustration: Fig. 143: Careless planting of a tree.]
The marks on the tops of these trees in Figs. 142 and 143 show where the
branches may be cut. See also Fig. 152. Figures 144 and 145 show the
tops of trees after pruning. Strong branchy trees, as apples, pears, and
ornamental trees, are usually headed back in this way, upon planting. If
the tree has one straight leader and many or several slender branches
(Fig. 146), it is usually pruned, as in Fig. 147, each branch being cut
back to one or two buds. If there are no branches, or very few of
them,--in which case there will be good buds upon the main stem,--the
leader may be cut back a third or half its length, to a mere whip.
Ornamental bushes with long tops are usually cut back a third or a half
when set, as shown in Fig. 45.
[Illustration: Fig. 144. Pruned young tree.]
Always leave a little of the small bud-making growth. The practice of
cutting back shade trees to mere long clubs, or poles, with no small
twigs, is to be discouraged. The tree in such case is obliged to force
out adventitious buds from the old wood, and it may not have vigor
enough to do this; and the process may be so long delayed as to allow
the tree to be overtaken by drought before it gets a start.
[Illustration: Fig. 145. Pruned young tree.]
Removing very large trees.
Very large trees can often be moved with safety. It is essential that
the transplanting be done when the trees are perfectly dormant,--winter
being preferable,--that a large mass of earth and roots be taken with
the tree, and that the top be vigorously cut back. Large trees are often
moved in winter on a stone-boat, by securing a large ball of earth
frozen about the roots. This frozen ball is secured by digging about
the tree for several days in succession, so that the freezing progresses
with the excavation. A good device for moving such trees is shown in
Fig. 148. The trunk of the tree is securely wrapped with burlaps or
other soft material, and a ring or chain is then secured about it. A
long pole, _b,_ is run over the truck of a wagon and the end of it is
secured to the chain or ring upon the tree. This pole is a lever for
raising the tree out of the ground. A team is hitched at _a,_ and a man
holds the pole _b._
[Illustration: Fig. 146: Peach tree.]
[Illustration: Fig. 147: Peach tree pruned for planting.]
Other and more elaborate devices are in use, but this explains the idea
and is therefore sufficient for the present purpose; for when a person
desires to remove a very large tree he should secure the services of
[Illustration: Fig. 148: Moving a large tree.]
The following more explicit directions for moving large trees are by
Edward Hicks, who has had much experience in the business, and who made
this report to the press a few years ago: "In moving large trees, say
those ten to twelve inches in diameter and twenty-five to thirty feet
high, it is well to prepare them by trimming and cutting or sawing off
the roots at a proper distance from the trunks, say six to eight feet,
in June. The cut roots heal over and send out fibrous roots, which
should not be injured more than is necessary in moving the trees next
fall or spring. Young, thrifty maples and elms, originally from the
nursery, do not need such preparation nearly as much as other and older
trees. In moving a tree, we begin by digging a wide trench six to eight
feet from it, leaving all possible roots fast to it. By digging under
the tree in the wide trench, and working the soil out of the roots by
means of round or dull-pointed sticks, the soil falls into the cavity
made under the tree. Three or four men in as many hours could get so
much of the soil away from the roots that it would be safe to attach a
rope and tackle to the upper part of the trunk and to some adjoining
post or tree for the purpose of pulling the tree over. A good quantity
of bagging must be put around the tree under the rope to prevent injury,
and care should be taken that the pulling of the rope does not split off
or break a limb. A team is hitched to the end of the draft rope, and
slowly driven in the proper direction to pull the tree over. If the tree
does not readily tip over, dig under and cut off any fast root. While it
is tipped over, work out more of the soil with the sticks. Now pass a
large rope, double, around a few large roots close to the tree, leaving