Planting and naturalising bulbs in grass

Posted in All Gardening Advice, Bulbs, September, October, on

This is more easily done if the grass is short, so cut in the late autumn, before planting. This has the added advantage that you’ll see the flowers much more clearly with the grass cut short.

When planting in grass, remember to go for a very natural look, avoiding straight lines and regimental spacing. Scatter the bulbs from the bag with a sweep of your hand like a sower sowing seed and then plant each bulb where it falls.

For the larger bulbs like narcissi and camassia, use a bulb planter with a long handle like a spade. It acts like a corer, removing a cylinder of soil.
On heavy soil, add a little grit or spent compost to the newly dug hole, drop in the bulb and move on to the next. As you cut the second hole, this dislodges the first core of soil still sitting in the bulb planter and this can then be placed over your first bulb.
For smaller bulbs like fritillaries, crocus and snowdrops, you can make the holes with a metal post, swivelling it around, or do the same with a garden fork, or use a bulb planter as you would for the larger bulbs (see planting crocus below).
At Kew, they use a different system, peeling back a section of turf, loosening the soil beneath if it is compacted, adding some grit, then scattering the bulbs, before covering them back over with the section of turf.
There are a couple of final things to remember with planting in grass: first, not to cut the grass and bulb foliage until all the bulb leaves have turned yellow and second, not to add any fertiliser. This feeds the competing grass more than your bulbs. If the soil is very poor you can use a sprinkling of potash.
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