It’s that time of year when many landscapers and gardeners find themselves on their hands and knees with a variety of implements, desperately trying to get their bulbs planted before Christmas. If, like us, you have decided to sprinkle colour into your lawn or wildflower areas with naturalizing spring bulbs, you may well be looking at hundreds of bulbs that need to be in the ground over the next month. Read our top tips to achieve a fantastic burst of spring colour in your lawn or meadow.
What does ‘Naturalizing’ Mean
To most gardeners, naturalizing means growing bulbs in grass areas rather than in set borders and effectively, naturalizing is the growing of bulbs as they would appear in the wild or ‘in nature’. Bulbs lie in informal drifts of dozens or even hundreds of bulbs. They are normally smaller varieties such as crocus, scilla and bluebells. Early bulbs are perfect as they tend to grow only to 10-20 cms, the flowers poke above the new growth of the grass and wildflowers but they are not too leggy, nor do they have a great deal of leaf debris after flowering.
The Dutch bulb experts such as JUB Holland, would recommend at least 20 bulbs per m² for a naturalized look. It may sound like a lot but impact is important and it certainly requires groupings of this amount to provide the all important colour burst.
How Should I Scatter my Bulbs?
There are a couple of different methods that can be adopted dependent on the area that you are going to be planting up. The most important thing to remember is that you need to avoid straight lines and any regimental spacing or geometric patterns. Many advise to take a handful of bulbs at a time and throw them from waist height onto the ground and plant them where they land. I talked through planting methods with one of our accredited installers Thomas Stone of TS Gardens at the Landscape Show, his method is to use plastic plant pots, throw them over your shoulder and wherever they land plant a cluster of bulbs, I like this method a lot, purely based on the fun element of throwing pots!
How to Plant Spring Bulbs?
Early spring bulbs will generally be quite small in size and therefore do not need to be planted too deeply. Infact if laying turf, we know that by scattering the bulbs and simply laying the turf over the top is a very quick and effective method. But if you are about to embark on planting within an existing turfed area the work is more onerous and certainly better with two people.
Using a hand held bulb planter is the traditional method, pushing down into the turf and placing the bulb in the hole created. Getting the plug of soil out of the bulb planter can be difficult so we would recommend cutting your next hole which pushes the existing turf within the planter up and out and ready to plug back into the previous hole.
With small bulbs such as crocus and scilla the prongs of a garden fork or a heavy metal spike would do the job – just be careful of your toes.
For larger, denser swathes of colour like a paint stroke on a lawn, cutting out a layer of turf is a good idea. This can be done by hand or with a turf cutter, scattering the bulbs within and laying the turf back over the bulbs.
It is advised that no fertiliser is added. A small amount of grit can be used to plug over small holes in the lawn and will also deter small rodents nibbling them. Bulbs do not need to be watered in this setting either. If waterlogged they will more than likely rot.
Bulbs should always be planted pointy side facing up.
When should I mow the area?
It is really important for the bulbs to go through their full life cycle without the temptation of mowing over the foliage before it has had the chance to replenish the bulb ready for next year. If on a mono-culture lawn you should wait as long as possible, certainly after the leaves have turned yellow, don’t be tempted to tidy up the area too quickly. If within a wildflower area, the growth of the wildflowers will cover over the browning leaves so that they are not seen.
We have a wonderful range of bulbs that will enhance your lawn or wildflower area and can be sent to you within 48 hours. The ranges are carefully selected for bulb size, succession flowering and colour combination. Look at our ‘Enhance your wildflowers‘ pages for more details or call one of the sales team to find out more about our spring and summer bulb ranges – perfect to plant under new turf or within existing areas of lawn or wildflower. 01256 771222