London (change)
Today 9°C / 4°C
Tomorrow 10°C / 9°C

Planting spring bulbs in lawns

Posted: Monday 1 October 2012
by Adam Pasco

There’s more to lawns than just grass. You can easily transform yours into a colourful display of spring-flowering bulbs, and now’s the time to plant them.


Adam Pasco using a bulb planter

There’s more to lawns than just grass. You can easily transform yours into a colourful display of spring-flowering bulbs, and now’s the time to plant them.

I love visiting parks and large gardens in spring to see lawns full of colour – huge expanses of early crocuses, fluttering drifts of daffodils or even more unusual treasures such as exquisite snake's head fritillaries. They can really take your breath away. 

If you want to create a similar effect in your own garden, now is the time to get planting. The first thing to consider is where to plant. You must bear in mind that spring bulbs need to grow and complete their life cycle before you cut the foliage down. That means they can look a little messy for several weeks after flowering finishes, so it’s best to avoid planting them right in the middle of your lawn.

A grassy bank or rough area of lawn is fine, but on a reasonably well-maintained lawn (which is what I class mine as), I'd suggest planting them around the edges and away from the house. Make sure you’re still able to see and enjoy the flowers, but choose a spot where the subsequent long grass won’t be too obtrusive.

There are two main planting methods to choose from. The easiest is to scatter generous handfuls of bulbs over the lawn and plant where they fall using a bulb planter or trowel. This creates a random, natural look. Alternatively, peel back small areas of turf using a spade, plant the bulbs into the soil below, then replace the turf, firm it down and water it well.

If you plant just one type of bulb, the display, while it may be spectacular, won't last for more than a few weeks. But if you plant a selection of carefully chosen varieties, you can create a succession of colour through March and April, and often into May.

After flowering is over, you should leave the foliage in place for a good six to eight weeks to help recharge the bulbs’ energy for the following year. This means you’ll have to let the surrounding grass grow quite tall and straggly. Then, when you eventually cut this back later in June, you’ll be left with pale yellow patches that take a while to green up fully. Still, it’s a small price to pay for such a beautiful spring display.

As well as lawns, areas of gravel are great for bulbs too. Cyclamen, crocuses and chionodoxa should thrive here, spreading naturally alongside gravel paths and driveways.

In my book, where there's a space, there is a bulb-planting opportunity. Just take your pick from the many bulbs available now and fill your garden with spring colour.

Adam Pasco planting bulbs under turf




Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Planting spring bulbs in lawns
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step