A thyme lawn made from the soft yet tough species and varieties of creeping thyme might just be the most wonderful thing to ever happen to your garden.
Not only is a thyme lawn lovely to look at, it will also require much less water and care than grass.
This low maintenance turf alternative requires no mowing, fertilizing, thatching or watering.
Whether you decide to get a landscaping contractor to install this type of sod substitute in your garden or take on the task yourself as a DIY landscape project, attention to detail will pay off later.
The almost complete lack of maintenance once the plants are fully rooted makes up for any added cost.
Once established, many beautiful thyme varieties and species thrive on neglect, only getting more lush and thick the less care they receive. You can't say that about lawn grass!
Thyme is a drought tolerant groundcover with the added bonus of a solid month or two of bloom during the summer, attracting pollinators from miles around. Keep these important points in mind if you're thinking of starting a thyme lawn:
Initial preparation of the area you want to plant can be a hurdle.
You will need to remove all the existing vegetation such as perennial weeds and any grass.
Plan ahead and make a lasagna garden by covering the whole area with black plastic, cardboard or multiple sheets of newspaper covered with straw (not hay, as you'll just re-introduce more weed seeds) or sawdust.
The most important concept to remember is that you want to cut off all light to the weeds and/or grass below.
Be patient, as this can take two seasons to completely kill off the top growth, and longer still if you don't get all the roots.
Adding drainage to your area is crucial if the soil drains slowly, such as clay soil.
I recommend adding small gravel such as pea gravel or graded sand to the area then roter tilling it in to a depth of between two and six inches.
Rake this out, then you're ready to plant your thyme plugs.
To calculate how many plugs you'll need, measure the area you want to plant, multiply length x width.
To plant 30cm (one foot) apart, this will give you the number of plugs to order. Using this quantity, your thyme lawn will eventually fill in - this can take several seasons, depending on the variety or species. To plant 20cm (8") apart, which is my recommendation, add about a third again.
Most varieties do well at the closer spacing, especially for projects that will be used for light foot traffic. Some of the best types of thyme for a thyme lawn are Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin' (Elfin thyme), Thymus coccineus (Red Creeping thyme) and Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Wooly thyme).
I'd love to hear about any of your projects using thyme - a thyme stool, lawn or a patio planted with thyme.
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Thyme lawns or steps are drought resistant and tough enough for any environmental challenges.
It used to be that once in a while these kinds of plants would come to the fore, and successfully maneuver dry summers, but now it's obvious that these are the most suited to what is becoming the norm.
Seeing how beautiful these unique landscapes are and how well they perform in challenging conditions will encourage others to find unique plants to use in their own xeric garden.