Vail Landscape Logic: Group bulbs together and protect them from wildlife
Our fall landscaping chores aren’t really complete unless we’ve planted bulbs that will show up as early spring flowers next year. When they pop up through the snow, they tell us the winter doldrums are over and another growing season is about to begin.
While the weather is still nice, it’s a perfect time to do this last chore. Look for a place in the yard that will showcase these first flowers of spring, not only for you but also the neighbors and others who pass by. Spring color — or any seasonal color — should never be hoarded.
Once you know where you’re planting, select varieties of plants you want to see. Tried-and-true flowers include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses. You can also add the edibles of garlic and saffron crocus into the mix.
Pay attention to the bloom times of each type of flower so you can plant them accordingly next year. Daffodils and crocus are early bloomers. Depending on the variety, tulips can have three different bloom times.
• Select locations that are well-drained and get plenty of sun.
• Plant the bulbs as soon as possible after you buy them.
• Group bulbs by bloom time and create pockets of bulbs with groupings of 10 or more bulbs, as space allows. When bulbs bloom as a group, they will have much more visual impact than if spread out or planted in a row.
• You can plant bulbs one at a time, but a more efficient way is to dig a hole large enough for each group. Dig the hole three times deeper than the bulb height.
• Place bulbs in the hole, spacing them a distance about twice their width from the next bulb.
• Place the pointed ends, which are the tops, up. If you can’t tell top from bottom, place bulbs on their sides and the shoots will naturally grow up and the roots will grow down. Once all the bulbs are in place, fill in the hole with soil.
• Fertilize according to label directions with a product high in phosphorous, a super phosphate. It’s better than bone meal.
• When planting hyacinths, wear gloves, as touching them with bare skin sometimes causes a rash.
• After planting, top dress the beds with shredded wood mulch.
Protecting your bulbs
During the winter when less food is available, wildlife will dig up bulbs. If wildlife likes to raid your yard, here are some tips to safeguard your bulbs.
• Discourage deer, elk and rabbits from digging up bulbs by treating them prior to planting with a hot-pepper product available from garden centers. As an added precaution, place a cage made from chicken wire over the bed. Bend the wire to the create sides that can be pushed into the ground.
• Voles are common pests that actively forage during the winter. To discourage them, apply 2 inches of pea gravel over the soil. The sharp edges of the gravel hurt the pads of their feet, which will deter them from digging.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.