Garden Photo of the Day

A Lawn in Bloom

A water-wise lawn allows for a brilliant display of spring bulbs

Mike Kintgen is a horticulturist at the Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado. At work, he curates the alpine plant collection. At home, he has created a beautiful display in his front lawn that combines water-wise gardening techniques for his dry, western climate, and a really beautiful display of bulbs.

Mike’s front lawn is planted with buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), which requires 30% to 75% less water than traditional bluegrass lawns and needs less mowing. The downside is that buffalo grass goes brown and dormant in the winter and takes longer to green up and come into growth in the spring. Mike has turned those negatives into pluses by planting up his lawn with early spring bulbs. Because buffalo grass takes longer to start growing in the spring, the bulbs have time to flower and complete their spring growth cycle before the first mowing. Most common bulbs, like the crocuses and bulbous iris Mike has planted, are native to climates with dry summers, so they grow much better in a dried buffalo grass lawn than they would in the much wetter conditions required by bluegrass.

The result is an incredible display that conserves water, is good for the environment, and is beautiful to boot! That’s what I call a win-win.

Learn more about crocus.

See a picture of a buffalo grass lawn in the summer.

Bright yellow clumps of Crocus ancyrensis (Ankara crocus, Zones 4–8) in full bloom against the tawny-colored dormant buffalo grass.

Mixed crocus varieties in different colors scattered over the lawn.

Healthy clumps of the delicately colored Crocus ‘Blue Pearl’ (Zones 4–8).

Another view of the mixed crocus in bloom.

Bright patches of color from yellow Crocus ancyrenis mixed with purple C. tommasinanus (Tommy crocus, Zones 4–8) and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ (tricolor crocus, Zones 4–8). These masses of color just get bigger and better with each passing year.

Blooming at the same time as the crocus is the little bulbous Iris reticulata (Zones 4–8).

Iris reticulata ‘J.S. Dijt’ has rich purple flowers.

View Comments


  1. garden1953 03/20/2018

    Hi Mike, Love your yard with all the crocus and especially the Iris reticulate. I'm in Evergreen so no blooms for me yet but love going down the hill to DBG for a dose of spring!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/20/2018

    Wow! Makes me kind of think of being in Turkey or Iran looking at them growing in their native habitat!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/20/2018

    Looking at those colorful patches of pinks, purples, yellow and white in the lawn activated my inner child's wish to go on an Easter egg hunt. Has to fun for all in the neighborhood to see them come to about a harbinger of spring!

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/20/2018

    Beautiful and a great idea for arid areas like yours. Let's hope this sort of lawn becomes the norm.

  5. NCYarden 03/20/2018

    Genius. Spread the word. Makes sense and looks fantastic.

  6. cheryl_c 03/20/2018

    Mike, your crocus and iris are a bright surprise on this first day of Spring (it starts in less than 4 hours here!). I love Tommy crocus- they are the only kind I have - with their more delicate an naturalized look. Your iris reticulata is also wonderful - I just added "George" this year, and am enraptured - two blooms for each plant, and lasting about 2 weeks! Have you had yours long enough to determine whether they are going to slowly spread, like the crocus? Please send more pictures soon!

  7. btucker9675 03/20/2018

    Love, love love!!! Here in the Charlotte, NC area, we have a Bermuda grass lawn (hate this grass) which also goes dormant in the winter so I am going to copy you for next spring. Thanks for the great inspiration!

  8. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 03/20/2018

    Mike, what a great idea for your dormant lawn. I love the look of naturalized bulbs.

  9. CTpat 03/20/2018

    There is a lawn near us in Mystic, CT, that is full of pale blue, small, early crocuses every spring. It really lifts the spirits when you walk by. I'm sure your lawn does, too, Mike.

  10. Chris_N 03/20/2018

    Great lawn, Mike. The reticulated iris and crocus are wonderful harbingers of spring. We have bulbs in our lawn at home (Madison, WI) but it is always a struggle to let them finish up before we have to mow.

  11. sheila_schultz 03/20/2018

    So happy to see your early spring yard on GPOD, Mike! Little pops of colorful blooms give hope to an early and lasting Spring! Love it!

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