Yard Butler Roto Auger for Planting Bulbs
By Sarah Green Carmichael
New England winters are long, cold, and dark – by March I’m usually a depressed husk of a woman. What always brings me back to life is the thrilling sight of the first crocuses peaking out through the last remnants of snow. By the time the daffodils, tulips, and bluebells emerge, I am beside myself. There’s just nothing like that candy-colored profusion of blooms to suddenly turn winter blues into spring fever.
Given this enthusiasm, perhaps it’s not surprising that I tend to over-order: why order 50 bulbs when you can order 100? Why order 100 when you can order 400? My bulb-mania knows no bounds. And to make it worse, I also have a tendency to procrastinate. If you’re hand-digging bulbs, you know how this can turn out – you spend Thanksgiving weekend clawing at cold dirt like a madwoman. Or the ground freezes before you have a chance to plant all your bulbs, and you’ve either wasted a lot of money, or you end up forcing tons of bulbs in pots. Merry Christmas, husband! Just what you wanted!
Not exactly the effect you were going for.
This is why I finally decided to try out the Yard Butler Roto Auger. In theory, here’s how it works: you buy a long augur and attach it to your regular drill. With this set-up, you’re supposed to effortlessly create made-to-measure holes all over your yard.
I’d resisted for years, thinking, this can’t possibly work – and even if it works in loamy Midwestern soil, it would never work in Concord’s strange mélange of rocks and clay. (After all, I’d tried cylindrical bulb planters – the kind that are supposed to punch holes in soil like it’s a piece of paper — and they barely worked for me. I was disillusioned.) But the 30” long, 3” wide Yard Butler Roto Auger was only fifteen bucks from Amazon, and was available on Prime, so I decided to give it a try.
How’d It Work?
I was first surprised to find that the Yard Butler Roto Auger actually did fit into my cordless drill – just as advertised. I was even more surprised when I successfully drilled a perfectly round hole on the very first try. I quickly zoomed around the yard, creating hole after hole and filling each one with bulbs. (Important safety note: if you plan to dig deeper than 18”, call 1-800-DIG-SAFE to make sure you don’t hit a gas line or a pipe. You may also want to wear eye protection, as you would when using any power tool.)
The Butler Roto Auger itself is a tiny bit bendy – which is good, because it will give a little bit if you hit a rock. Occasionally I’d get it locked up in the root system of my thuggish wisteria, but even then it was easy to simply hit “reverse” on the drill and back out. Only once did I accidentally drill through a bulb from last season. (Alas, poor jonquil.) A few of my really fat daffodil bulbs were too chubby to fit in the holes made by the augur, but I was able to enlarge these holes with minimal effort.
Not only did I get all the bulbs planted, the task only took an afternoon – not the entire weekend I’d set aside. Moreover, I was finally able to dig the extra-deep holes that are supposed to keep bulbs safer from hungry rodents, and let more sensitive bulbs like tulips perennialize in northern climates. (Whether my tulips actually will perennialize is, as every gardener knows, another matter.)
You know what this means: next year, I’m ordering even more bulbs.