Horticulture/Planting Lawn Bulbs

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There’s just nothing so spectacular in the early spring as a lawn planted with small bulbs for a colorful show. While very large lawns look good with larger bulbs such as daffodils, the average lawn owner wouldn’t want to wait that long to mow. This easy method is intended for use with the small spring bulbs, such as Crocus, the smaller grape hyacinths (Muscari), siberian squill (Scilla), early snowdrops (Galanthus), and the native spring beauties (Claytonia).

This sort of planting gives great results the following spring, and then even more over the long term, as the bulbs multiply and make the bloom more dense over time.

The best effect is achieved by planting a large number of bulbs...I prefer to have at least 2 bulbs per square foot of lawn (so for a 20’ X 25’ area, I order 1,000 bulbs). They’re really not all that expensive wholesale, and can be installed in no time using this method.

This all hinges upon the fact that most core aerating machines create holes the perfect size and depth for installing small bulbs (it won’t work with larger bulbs, which require larger, deeper holes). It’s not an appropriate thing to do on wet lawns, as bulbs won’t survive in very wet soils. The method works very well in combination with my Big Lawn Treatment in the fall.


There’s really not a lot of preparation to do, just have the bulbs ready to go, and make up the fertilizer mix for the holes. To make the mix, stir in about 1 lb of bone meal with 6 cubic feet of compost (a full wheelbarrow). That doesn’t sound like much, but the compost naturally has most of the nutrients the bulbs need. If you have eggshells saved up, use about a quart of crushed eggshells into the mixture and skip the bone meal (it never hurts to add more eggshells if you have a large supply).


Core Aerator Packing Rod (just a stick or piece of handle to pack down the compost mix over top of the bulb)


Bulbs Bone Meal/Compost Mix or Eggshell/Compost Mix

Step 1: Run the Aerator

Run the aerator over the entire area to be planted. To make the blooms more randomly spaced, you can certainly run the aerator twice (all the holes won’t be used in either case).

Step 2: Clean up the plugs.

Though normally one would leave the plugs from the aerator to break down into the soil, I find them distracting when doing a bulb planting, as you might end up forgetting where some of the bulbs are if they’re laying amid the plugs.

Step 3: Place the bulbs

Don’t just start planting, because once the bulbs are in the ground, it's easy to forget where you’ve already planted, and where you still need to work. Place the bulbs around, on the grass, to get an even distribution. Try to avoid planting in rows or in a regular “grid”, since it looks much nicer if they’re a bit more randomly spaced, which gives the blooming lawn a “natural look”.

Step 4: Plant the bulbs

This is the easy part. Just put a pinch of the mix in the bottom of the hole, stick a bulb in, and firmly pack in more mix over top, bringing it up to the level of the soil.

Step 5: Help the rest of the lawn

Either do a big lawn treatment, or just add some grass seed (fall is the time to do that anyway), and water well.