Fall is an ideal time to let kids make lawn art with spring-blooming bulbs. Children can create a design or a message in the grass that will appear next spring. For example, they can spell out a greeting, their name, the address or create a heart or other shape. Here are some tips:
- Early blooming bulbs allow for adequate ripening of the foliage before the grass needs to be mowed. After blooming, the foliage needs to ripen in order to replenish the under ground bulb for the following year’s flowers.
Removing the foliage before it turns yellow, brown or falls flat, will decrease the flowers next year. The ripening process may take up to six weeks. Larger, later-blooming bulbs, such as hybrid tulips (Tulipa) or daffodils (Narcissus), may not have enough time to ripen before the grass needs to be cut. However, if you are willing to sacrifice next year’s flowers for this year’s show, go for the larger bulbs and mow when needed.
- Place the bulbs in the desired pattern. Instead of making the line of the pattern one bulb wide, use two or three.
- You can dig individual holes for the bulbs or you can lift the sod and dig a trench to accommodate the bulbs. Usually the bulb is planted two or three times deeper than its height. If a bulb, such as a crocus, is about 1-inch tall, it is planted 2- to 3-inches deep. Replace the sod and tamp down the soil.
- No need to fertilize. Fall-planted bulbs are packed with everything they need to bloom next year.
- Water the planting.
Lessons for teachers
The center recently launched www.thebulbproject.org for educators, youth group leaders and home schoolers. The Web site is a forum for the exchange of ideas and a library of learning activities that use flower bulbs to connect young people and nature.
“Young people who are encouraged to take ownership of a project are more involved, they learn more and retain more – and they’re more likely to want to repeat the experience,” says Marcia Eames-Sheavly, a Cornell University professor who serves as educational coordinator for www.thebulbproject.org.