How To Plant Flower Bulbs For A Meadow Garden Effect

Lawns are not usually the focal point of a garden, but they can become a notable sight in spring if they're dotted with colorfully blooming bulbs like crocus, species tulips, scilla and other diminutive early bloomers. Mark Konlock, Director of Horticulture at the Green Bay Botanical Garden in Green Bay, Wisc., shares the following tips, developed from his experience creating meadow-like bulb-and-grass combinations at the botanical garden:

Use plenty of bulbs so that when they bloom they grab attention.

Choose bulbs that tend to naturalize (spreading by offsets underground and/or by seed) and that reliably come back each year. Top choices include species tulips and mini daffodils.

Plant in the fall at the normal bulb-planting time for your area.

Plant handfuls of bulbs in relatively large holes. At the Green Bay Botanical Garden, Mark and staff dig up a chunk of sod, tuck in several bulbs together and then tamp the sod back into place.

Keep it looking natural by positioning the planting holes randomly, with some close together and some more spread out. Plant different numbers and types of bulbs in each hole, rather than following a formula or pattern. In some holes, put all the same kind of bulb.

Allow fall's rains to settle the bulbs and initiate rooting.

In spring, wait until the bulb foliage dies back before mowing the lawn (if you mow it). This is key to ensure that the bulbs restock their energy stores so they can bloom again next spring.