Thyme Lawn

Tough Lawn Alternative; no fuss, fertilizer or mowing

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.

Thyme Lawn with feet

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!

Woolly Thyme Lawn enclosed in a brick edging...Wooly thyme, among others, makes a perfectly behaved lawn alternative. Sweet smelling, drought tolerant and never needs mowing or fertilizing. What could be better? The feel of it on bare toes is a textural treat, and the look of a happy thyme lawn adds romance and an established feel to the xeric garden. Plant some among pavers too.

Not only is a thyme lawn lovely to look at, it will also require much less water and care than 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.

How to Start Your Thyme Lawn

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.

When you're ready to plant, remove all the straw (use it  for mulching your vegetable garden so it doesn't go to waste).

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.

What Kind of Soil is Best for Thyme?

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.Don't use fine playground sand or beach sand, which could have salt in it.

Rake this out, then you're ready to plant your thyme plugs.

How Many Thyme Plants Will I Need?

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).These are all very short and don't produce much long top growth, which would be a tripping hazard.

This type of lawn is not going to be tough enough for a rousing game of touch football, or frantic fetch games with the dog, but it will stand up to light foot traffic, or seating. 

Avoid the area when the flowers bloom, due to the risk of getting stung by a busy pollinator gathering the nectar.

There's no Thyme like the Present...

I'd love to hear about any of your projects using thyme - a thyme stool, lawn or a patio planted with thyme.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Grass has started in my thyme lawn. How do I get rid of it.? Arlene 
I began a thyme lawn in Co. about 12 years ago. The last 4 years wild grass has begun to come in. I cannot pull it all (I'm 83). Help. Arlene

Replaced our lawn with thyme. 
When we decided to convert to a grass free lawn in front of our house, we knew nothing about ground covers or drought smart plants. We bought eight …

lawn bunny 
Two years ago I created a giant bunny on my front lawn. It's 20 feet long & 8' 4" to the tip of the tallest ear. The base consists of several large …

Wooly Thyme is growing hair? 
I have a flagstone patio, about 9 years old set on sand with pea gravel between the cracks. We planted it with Wooly Thyme plugs and it spread rapidly. …

dying thyme 
About 20 years ago I planted thyme in my Japanese Garden: woolly thyme, nutmeg thyme and minus thyme all in distinct areas i.e. separated. It took a few …

Thyme Lawn 
I just started to grow about 1600 plants of thyme to transplant into my front garden. See the process and the pictures on my Island Gardener blog . …

Thyme Scented Honey 
I planted a small thyme lawn several years ago, and finally last year it bloomed. The variety was Elfin thyme which has very pretty pink flowers, and …

Xeric gardening in Chinook country 
I have managed to get all our landscaping done along with killing off ALL our grass. I have even begun planting thyme plants that I have been lucky …

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