Love tulips, daffodils, crocuses and other bulbs but have limited space to plant? Or, like me are just plain outta space because you are a planting machine. These 6 awesome small garden ideas I use myself will show you how to layer your bulbs and use vertical space to make the most of your garden – no matter how big or small you think it is.

The best part: a tutorial to learn how to layer spring bulbs in pots – some people call this “bulb lasagna” or a “bulb sandwich” (lol). Get reading so you can get planting!

This post was originally created on September 27, 2015 and was updated April 1, 2016


Layering Bulbs for Maximum Impact

By choosing the right flower bulbs, you can stack the bulbs for a beautiful flower show in a small area. This is a great small garden idea because you are taking up a very small space and maximizing the results you get!

When and where to plant your bulb lasagna


The optimal time to plant new bulbs is in the fall, before it frosts. This will give your bulbs time to acclimate to their new environment and go dormant for winter. When spring arrives, they will bloom beautifully!


This how-to guide shows how to plant layers of bulbs in pots, but this same bulb layering technique can also be used right in the ground. The great part about putting them right in the ground  is that it’s a huge space AND time saver. To accomplish this, just dig a hole to the deepest layer depth (in this case it will be 6″), then cover with 2″ dirt, put in the 4″ layer, and so on. Hey, digging holes is hard work… right? This is a great way to save space AND time.

Small Garden Ideas: Which Bulbs to Choose for Layering?

Things to Consider

  • Choose bulbs that bloom come up sequentially (such as early spring, mid spring, late spring)
  • The bulbs can (and should) be planted at different depths (such as 2″, 4″ and 6″)
  • The earliest blooming bulbs need to be the highest depth bulbs (i.e. the early spring blooming bulb would have to be planted at the 2″ depth, and the late spring bulb would have to be planted at the 6″ depth)
  • Plant for color and variety! There are tons of bulbs to choose from! I’ll give you some examples, or try searching layering bulbs on Pinterest or Google.

My Bulb Choices

If you’d like to keep it simple for your first time around, choose bulbs that are easy to grow and care for.  A good choice is a basic planting of:

  • Tulips (Bottom — about 6″ deep)
  • Daffodils (Middle — about 4″ deep)
  • Crocus (Top — about 2″ deep)

How-To Instructions

Layering Bulbs in Pots - How-To Instructions

Step 1: Place a layer of gravel across the bottom of the container, then apply a thick layer of potting soil mixed with bulb food. You can find bulb food via this link, or at your local hardware store or garden center. Bone meal is also a great option! You can layer the bulbs shoulder-to-shoulder if you have a lot of them. You don’t have to space them out like you would in the garden. The tighter the better. I wish I had more actually.

Layering Bulbs in Pots - Pretty Purple Door
Layering Bulbs in Pots - Tulip Bottom Layer

Step 2: Place the first layer of bulbs in the pot and cover with a layer of soil.

Step 3: Continue layering, and place your second layer of bulbs in the soil.

Layering Bulbs in Pots - Daffodil Middle Layer
Layering Bulbs in Pots - Crocus Top Layer

Step 4: Cover the top layer of bulbs with a final layer of soil, as if you were planting outdoors. Keep from hard frost and enjoy this Spring!

Tips for Colder Climates

  • Use durable containers that won’t crack in the cold: More durable containers made of stone, cast concrete, fiberglass, cast iron, or plastic are suitable for colder winter climates.
  • Use small plastic pots and transplant in spring: You can also plant your bulbs in small 6-inch or 8-inch plastic pots and come spring transfer them into your larger pots or containers.
  • Insulate your pots: If you plan to leave your pots outside through winter, you’ll have to protect your bulbs from the severe weather. You can surround the pots in tightly packed straw or bury them in sawdust and put a good 18 inches of mulch on top.
  • Store them in a garage or shed:  You can also store your bulb pots in a garage, shed, cold basement, car port, or outbuilding that won’t get too far below freezing but will also not heat up during the day.


When to bring your bulbs outside

Bring your containers outside in the spring when the danger of hard frost has passed or when you see other bulbs in the ground outside starting to emerge.

What Blooms with What?

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Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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Hey, since you're already signed up for my emails, you may be interested in my Printable Garden Planner Kit. It includes 5 printable worksheets that you can use to plan and organize your landscape. Check it out here.

6 More Small Garden Ideas

Layering bulbs is a great way to save space and time in your garden. Looking for more great small garden ideas?  I was hoping you’d say yes, because I have tons of them!

Small Garden Ideas: Use Tiered or Stacking Pots

Use tiered or stacking planters

Use tiered or stacking planters like this one. Again, think vertical space. You can even try this with an old pallet by attaching some mason jars to the planks. Or use a simple step stool to place small bouquets.

Small Garden Ideas: Plant a vertical garden with a canvas shoe holder

Plant a vertical garden

Plant a vertical garden using a hanging shoe organizer. Hang it outside and fill it with herbs, trailing vines, creeping jenny, and/or different varieties of sedum (which are drought-tolerant and super low maintenance)

small garden ideas: diy self watering hanging basket

Grow some hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are an awesome way to maximize space. Using the vertical space adds a  lot of impact without taking up any space on the ground. Check out this post on creating a SELF-WATERING hanging basket for even less maintenance.

Adding a trellis or low fence behind existing plantings is a great small garden idea

Add a trellis or low fence behind planters

Add a trellis or low fence BEHIND your existing planting beds. Instantly get twice the flowers and vegetables in your small garden.

Using railing boxes is another great small garden idea if you are short on space

Plant on your railings

Really, you can do this. They actually sell railing planter boxes – attach right onto your porch or deck. These also come in self-watering varieties!

Small Garden Ideas: Plant in a window box

Plant in a window box

Planting in a window box is a great way to expand your planting space. Not only that, but it will add great curb appeal to your home!

Some Resources for Small Garden Ideas

Image Credits: Canvas Shoe Hanger Planter: Inhabitat | Trellis behind existing planters: Better Homes & Gardens

For your pinning pleasure…

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