Plant bulbs now to naturalise in lawns and long grass for a quick and easy way to add a boost of cheerful colour in spring, while also providing valuable early nectar for the season’s first pollinating insects.
Choose a site near the edge of the lawn, or under a tree where you can allow the grass to grow a little longer until the bulb foliage dies back in May or June. It’s important to choose the right bulbs for your conditions: in the garden centre here in London you’ll find crocuses and scillas for open areas; snowdrops, cyclamen and miniature narcissi for planting under trees; and snakeshead fritillaries for damp areas.
Start by removing the turf from your planting area by cutting 5cm deep with a spade, then sliding the blade underneath so it slices through the roots. Lift the turf in sheets and set aside.
Now break up the soil’s surface with a fork and add some slow-release fertiliser like blood, fish and bone, plus a little garden compost or soil improver. Rake the area level, then gently firm it with the flat of the rake head until it is level.
Take fistfuls of bulbs and scatter them across the area at random for a completely natural look. Then plant each one exactly where it falls, so that it sits at a depth about three times its height.
Backfill with more soil, then take the pieces of turf and lay them back down over the top, fitting them in as snugly as you can with the surrounding grass. Firm them down gently, making sure they are level with the rest of the lawn, then water well to make sure they bed back in quickly. Your bulbs should flower for many years, gradually spreading to form a carpet of colour across the lawn each spring.