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My neighbor comments on it every time she walks by.”

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Trench-Style Planting: Big Color, Little Time

Mass Planting of Multi-colored Tulips in Bloomg

Mike "The Seed Man" planted numerous mixed tulip bulbs in a trench outside of his house creating a grand spring statement.

Many gardeners meticulously plant bulbs in an exact pattern, making sure the proper colors are coordinated and each bulb is placed just right. We think this is a wonderful way of gardening and love seeing the results, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time or there are hundreds of bulbs involved. This is where trench planting comes in.

Trench planting is an easy way to plant clumps of bulbs together to create a big statement in the garden. Instead of using a bulb planter or spade to plant single bulbs, you dig a large hole in the garden, place the bulbs closely together in it, and bury them. Voila!

Stylistically, smaller bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths look better when planted in larger clumps instead of placed in single spots throughout the garden.

Trench Planting: Easy Steps

Trench Planting: Tulips

Lay out the bulbs close together, with the pointy sides up.
Trench Planting: Tulips

Bulbs thrive when planted under most trees, unless they are very acidic evergreens.
trench planting - filling back in

Cover the bulbs back up and give the area a good watering to remove any air pockets.


First, select your bulb varieties. Mike “The Seed Man” chose to do a trench planting in his front garden with hundreds of Tulip bulbs. You can easily do the same with Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocus, and other spring-blooming bulbs.

After you have your bulbs, dig a large trench to the depth you need to plant the bulbs. A large shovel should suffice for this step, although if you’re doing smaller trench plantings you could use a spade as well.

Once you’ve dug the hole, drop the bulbs in and arrange them so the correct side is facing up. Typically, this is the pointy end of the bulb.

Water thoroughly to get rid of any air pockets.

Sit back and wait for a huge burst of color in the spring!

Trench Planting In Action

Trench Planting: digging the hole

trench planting - tulips

As mentioned before, Mike planted 500 mixed Tulips in five separate trenches throughout his yard and gardens. With a little help from his daughter Sadie, he managed to plant all of these bulbs in under two hours.

Tulip Bulbs

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Trench Planting: The Results

Mike was extremely happy with the results of his fall trench planting. That spring almost every Tulip came up and bloomed, creating an awesome show of color in the front of his home. Neighbors walking by frequently stopped to comment on the gorgeous blooms. And because he planted a variety of Tulip mixtures, he had a nice diversity of shapes, colors, and sizes in his planting.

Yellow, and Red Tulips in Bloom

One of Mike's Tulip trench plantings in bloom.

The Tulips made a big statement in the front of his home.

The hundreds of Tulips bulbs planted en masse also made it easy (and guilt-free) to cut dozens at a time to bring indoors for bouquets. And because Mike chose mostly Darwin Tulip varieties, which are perennials, they come back year after year.

Try Trench Planting This Fall

If you’re looking for a quick way to add a huge statement of color to your spring garden, trench planting is the easiest, most efficient way. Have you tried trench planting in your garden? Please share your experiences in the comments below!

Trench Planting: Tulips

Trench Planting: Tulips

Sadie proud of her hard work!
trench planting - results


3 thoughts on “Trench-Style Planting: Big Color, Little Time”

  • Jean

    WOW!! awesome job, can not wait to see them all in bloom

  • Irina

    It's perfect. But what I have to do in summer? This place will be looked ugly! So there is too early to dig out bulbs. We cannot use this please for other plants, we have to dig out all bulbs, when leaves will died that to plant these on end of September or October. So what your advice ? ( Please, excuse my English.). Irina.

    • Jenny

      Hi Irina, ideally you would dig your trench in the fall, just before planting your bulbs. So, no worries about ugliness throughout the summer! It's always a good idea to have some compost and/or loose topsoil on hand, in case your soil is hard to work or just kind of average. Otherwise, after your bulbs bloom, the plants will remain in place and provide foliage to the area. If this isn't appealing to you, try scattering wildflower seeds, such as Lupine, over the top of your planting. Daffodils pair nicely with Lupine and are very cold-hardy, which means that you won't have to dig them up before winter. Hope this helps and Happy Gardening - Jenny

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