Bulbs come in two basic types, spring bulbs and summer bulbs. Plant spring bulbs in the fall so they can receive a period of cold stratification, which they require. You should plant most summer bulbs when the weather is warm.
To plant bulbs, you need to have a weed- and rock-free garden area. A garden rake with a straight line of teeth on a well-supported pole will help remove rocks and prepare the soil for planting, according to the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington. Run the rake over the soil to brush away any rocks, then thoroughly rake the soil to smooth it down before planting.
A cultivator is a short- or long-handled tool with three large bent tines or spinning blades. The blades loosen weeds' roots, aerate the soil and work supplements into the soil. If you are planting a large bed of bulbs, use the long-handled cultivator; a short-handled cultivator will be fine for a small bed of bulbs. Cultivators work well for planting bulbs because you can work compost into the soil with them, and compost helps improve the condition of your soil. Compost also improves soil drainage. The University of Arkansas advises adding organic material, like compost, to soil before you plant bulbs.
While spades come in long- and short-handled varieties, you will only need a short handled spade to plant bulbs. A spade has a pointed tip and rounded sides and is used for digging. You need to dig the holes for planting the bulbs with the spade. Always dig holes to the correct depth for each bulb.