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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 108 (74)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 108
Page 108

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 108

Development andre'Ncare of Drive-In Lawn Areas

Green Turf, an Asset to Any Theatre, Calls For

Scientific Planning and Maintenance Procedures

There is no substitute for the pleasing effect produced by a sweep of velvety lawn, and nothing is more inviting than an expanse of smooth, uniform and weed-free turf extending between the highway and the drive-in. In the theatre's playground area or picnic grounds, turf that is even, thick, and green conveys an atmosphere of orderliness and lends a touch of natural beauty.

Turf grasses are aggressive, and grow in successful competition with other vegetation if given an equal chance. Turf failures should never be charged against the grass if the variety planted is real turf grass. Man selects the environment, plants the seeds he desires, feeds the grass as he wishes, and abuses it as the occasion demands. Good lawns are rarely accidental; they are carefully planned.


As grass is a living plant, its health is directly dependent upon food and environmental conditions. While the limits of tolerance in most of the factors governing its health are wide, like the human being, grass is affected adversely when these factors are abnormal.

Eight factors of nearly equal importance enter into the development and maintenance of good turf areas. They are: (1) The foundation. (2) The sub soil. (3) The top soil. (4) Drainage. (5) Surface grade. (6) Seed selection. (7) Seeding. (8) Fertilizing. (9) Use and maintenanCe procedures.

The Foundation

The foundation is that level below the sub soil. Usually, it has to be accepted as found, be it rock, clay, sand, gravel, or filled-in swampland. The greater its distance below the top soil, the less the influence on the grass. Drainage and stability are the important infiuences of the foundation on the grass condition.

Gravel, coarse sand, and hard pan, if it is sloping, removes the surplus free water from the sub soil, while sand, depending upon the fineness of its grains, tends to absorb the free water and, after the downward flow has ceased, will return some of the water to the sub soil by capillary action.

Clay and level, hard pan absorb water very slowly, causing the sub soil to become water logged. This is especially harmful if the sub soil is not deep enough to hold all of the water. Such a condition may develop in the spring of the year or following long rainy periods, heavy showers, and by overwatering. Much of the so called ifwinter kill" is caused by such a condition occurring in late spring.

Rock either rapidly diverts the water to subterranean channels, or collects and holds it in an impervious basin. The


Associate Professor of Agrostology. University 0/ Massachusetts

former means complete loss of water and the latter, excessively wet soil, with standing water, at times, and drowned turf roots.

Soluble plant foods can be lost with the water, and in the case of coarse gravel and certain rock foundations, even foods in suspension can be lost.


BRIEF: The drive-in theatre has grown from a mere outdoor theatre to a community center . . . and with its added facilities for child and adult entertainment before the picture begins . . . its popularity has increased so much that managers now realize that good turf is a capital investment which pays real dividends.

Eight factors of nearly equal importance enter into the development and maintenance of good turf areas . . . and these are discussed in detail . . . pointing up the theme that the grass wants to grow; you need only help it with basic requirements. W/ith the foregoing suggestions put into practice . . . it should not be too difficult or expensive to maintain the turf at the average drive-in.

If possible, the foundation of a lawn should be uniform. Otherwise, there will be an unequal distribution of soil moisture and fertility, and uneven heaving and settling. The influence of this unequalness is present in the lawn throughout the year, and becomes especially obvious when the rate of rainfall is abnormal.

As tree stumps and carelessly dumped, large rocks are not stable, they will cause depressions to occur in the surface of the lawn.

The Sub Soil

The sub soil is that infertile layer of earth between the top soil and the foundation. It is the regulator of the water flow from the top soil to the foundation, and, as such, is fully as important as the top soil.

The ideal sub soil should be of such physical condition that it will absorb quickly a large portion of the surplus water from the top soil and return much of it by capillary action. The depth should be sufficient to retain enough water to supply the grass plant during the normal dry periods between showers.

The depth of sub soil must vary with the physical character of the foundation within the lawn area, and, unless this variation is made or corrected, the lawn will be uneven in growth, especially dur ing the summer months. Over gravel, 14 to 16 inches of sub soil is necessary, while much less is required over fine pressed sand. Clay requires at least eight inches of fine, gravelly sub soil or 16 inches ofheavier type sub soil. Rock should have 16 to 18 inches of light clay sub soil or six inches of clay.

Building debris does not make good sub soil or foundation, as it is not uniform in its physical characteristics, and will permit rapid flow of water in one area and retard itlin another. small planks, tin cans, and boards stop the upward rise of capillary water and often account for individual browned spots in a lawn. Hard coal ashes, six inches deep over a sand foundation, make an excellent sub soil.

Unless the sub soil is reasonably uniform in its water holding capacity and compensates for inequalities in the foundation, there will be a variation in the color, health, and vegetation of the lawn as its ages and in periods of poor growing weather, even though the top soil is uniform.

The Top Soil

Top soil should be evaluated (1) by its ability to absorb rain or sprinkled water, retain a reasonable amount, and pass the surplus through the sub soil; (2) by its ability to retain plant food; (3) by its inability to become packed and tight, thus excluding air which is essential for healthy grass roots, and causing too great a surface run-off of water; (4) by the amount and type of organic matter; and (5) by its freedom from infestation with weed seed. Ideal top soil is easily-pulverized sandy loam, reasonably Well supplied with plant food, with good water retention qualities, and containing at least five per cent organic matter. V

The depth of the top soil need not be more than four or five inches if it is over a suitable sub soil. And it should be remembered when selecting top soil that, while a deficiency in plant food may easily be supplied by fertilizers, it is difficult to change the physical texture of the soil once the grass has started to grow. Although the heavy and darker top soils appear to be better for turf growing, they are very liable to become packed and form an impervious roof over the root zone. Soils which have a high clay content can be improved physically by the addition of coarse sand, peats, or manures, while sandy soils are benefited by the addition of clayey soils, peats, manures, or other organic matter. It should be noted that it takes much more sand to show improvement to a clayey soil than it does clay or organic matter to improve a sandy soil. At least two inches of sand should be spread over a clayey soil

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 108