How to Grow a Creeping Thyme Lawn

If you happen to’re uninterested in consistently mowing, watering, and spraying your garden, a creeping thyme garden is an eco-friendly, low-maintenance, and delightfully aromatic different. Creeping thyme is an fragrant floor cowl associated to the Mediterranean kitchen herb all of us adore. It eagerly colonizes any sunny yard, making a cushiony garden that naturally out-competes weeds.

As a grass substitute, this quick-spreading herb grows low to the bottom, forming a dense carpet of greenery. The tiny blue-green leaves supply a blinding show all summer season lengthy, and should you don’t mow, it produces bee-magnetizing fuchsia flowers all through the summer season.

Better of all, this floor cowl is hard, drought tolerant, and remarkably low upkeep. However earlier than you rip out your grass, let’s dig right into a step-by-step information on the way to develop a creeping thyme garden the proper approach.

Does Creeping Thyme Make a Good Garden?

This easy-to-maintain plant thrives with out mowing or fertilizers, protecting weeds at bay naturally.

This is without doubt one of the greatest garden alternate options as a result of it’s extremely drought-tolerant and low-maintenance. The attractive herb stays inexperienced all summer season, even when neighboring turfgrass has turned brown and dormant. 

This low-growing perennial groundcover doesn’t require common mowing or fertilizer. Its vigorous development chokes out weeds, so no herbicides or weeding are mandatory.


A close-up of the creeping thyme lawn reveals a stunning tapestry of light purple flowers. Each delicate bloom adds a touch of elegance and color to the lush green backdrop, creating a captivating natural composition.
This floor cowl attracts pollinators and outperforms high-maintenance turfgrass, making it an eco-friendly selection.

Whenever you put creeping thyme head-to-head with high-maintenance turfgrass, this humble herb wins in nearly each class besides worth. The sort of garden is…

As soon as established, this Mediterranean herb tolerates and even enjoys dry soil. It might typically subsist on pure rainfall besides throughout the hottest, driest months. Even then, it requires minimal supplemental watering throughout sizzling climate in comparison with a conventional grass garden.

This garden different requires much less mowing, irrigating, spraying, and fertilizing than turfgrass. It grows vigorously with out a lot assist, so you possibly can lay again by the pool or take pleasure in your favourite summer season hobbies whereas figuring out your yard continues to be inexperienced.

The bluish-green leaves and vibrant purple or pink flowers add decorative worth to your panorama. With its lush textured foliage, thyme may be minimize low for a manicured look or develop upwards in a cottage backyard type.

Some just like the scent of fresh-cut grass, however the delectable aroma of thyme, when crushed or walked upon, is much more romantic.

Thyme is a hardy perennial in USDA zones 4-9, however it might want some winter mulch in harsher chilly climates.

When moist, thyme tolerates fairly a little bit of strolling and feels good beneath your naked toes.

This fast-growing herb chokes out weeds and prevents undesirable crops from taking maintain in your yard, that means no herbicide or hand-weeding is often mandatory.

If you happen to forego mowing and permit your thyme garden to flower, bees and butterflies go wild for the beautiful purple blossoms. You’ll be able to take pleasure in the great thing about native bugs and reap the advantages of pollination to your close by vegetable backyard.

The robust scent of thyme makes it a preferred companion plant for a lot of edible and decorative crops. Rising it close to your gardens might help deter pests like aphids, flies, and mosquitoes.

In case your garden was a dinner buffet for neighboring deer, you’ll be glad to know that these forest herbivores strongly dislike the scent and style of thyme.

Whereas a typical garden might require mowing each 1-2 weeks, thyme can go a month and even all summer season with out being mowed. The plant naturally grows simply 2-3 inches tall. For a extra manicured look, you possibly can mow each 3-4 weeks, however your yard will nonetheless look nice should you don’t have time to crank up the mower.

Thyme is a light-feeding plant that doesn’t require common fertilizer. An excessive amount of nitrogen may cause leggy or weak crops. Compost and a spring utility of slow-release fertilizer are often a lot to maintain your new garden glad.

What Are The Downsides?

A close-up view of the creeping thyme lawn showcases its exquisite flowers and finely textured leaves. The vibrant light purple blooms, nestled among the verdant foliage, provide a harmonious blend of colors and textures.
A thyme garden could also be costlier to determine and require extra preparation than turfgrass.

No plant is ideal, so you could surprise what the catch is. A thyme garden is dearer than turf, and it might take extra labor to prep the bottom and get it established. The drawbacks embrace…

The seed is pretty costly in comparison with grass. Rising from plugs (seedlings) will not be very cost-effective until your yard could be very small. You want numerous seeds to determine a big space. Topsoil or compost is useful when sowing.

This groundcover is slow-growing in its first yr and wants some persistence to get established. Nevertheless, as soon as anchored within the soil, the crops unfold quickly.

Changing a grass yard to a thyme garden requires a good quantity of labor to get began. Fortuitously, you solely should do it as soon as, and many of the work may be accomplished in a single afternoon. We’ll cowl the main points of getting began beneath!

You’ll be able to’t repeatedly stomp throughout thyme like you possibly can with grass. This plant does higher when it might develop freely round pavers or stepping stones. It has a tougher time recovering from heavy foot visitors when dry.

In case your youngsters or pets recurrently play within the yard, you could must preserve thyme mowed so the flowers don’t appeal to too many bees. Whereas bees are usually busy offering ecological advantages, they’ll sting when startled.

This herb enjoys semi-regular mowing or pruning and might change into woody if it doesn’t get minimize at the very least twice yearly. Because the crops age, they might change into spindly or woody on the base. If you happen to mow or in the reduction of half of the plant’s development within the spring, it rejuvenates the foliage and retains your garden trying contemporary.

2-3 years down the road, even with common mowing, you might be prone to nonetheless have a number of woody crops; these might have to be eliminated & changed with youthful crops to maintain the garden contemporary and cut back the woody development behavior.

How one can Plant: 6 Easy Steps

A close-up view of the creeping thyme flowers reveals their intricate beauty. The delicate light purple blossoms exhibit a graceful charm, adding a touch of enchantment to the green surroundings.
These crops set up greatest in fall or spring, avoiding intense summer season warmth.

Creeping thyme is cold-hardy in zones 4-9. Fall or spring are one of the best occasions to determine this perennial garden different. Younger crops have a tough time in intense summer season warmth.

If seeding within the autumn, begin 6-8 weeks earlier than your anticipated exhausting frost. In frigid northern zones, late spring is extra fascinating for robust institution. 

1. Smother the Grass

Amidst the vibrant green grasses, a lawnmower efficiently trims the blades with precision. The neatly cut grass creates a tidy and manicured appearance, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the lawn.
To seed thyme efficiently, the labor-intensive step of eradicating current grass is essential.

Earlier than you possibly can seed thyme, you’ll must take away your garden grass. That is probably the most labor-intensive step, however it is going to dramatically enhance your thyme garden success.

You might have a number of choices for smothering or eradicating the turf. I extremely advocate mowing earlier than you begin. Put your garden mower on the bottom setting to chop the grass as brief as doable.

Layers of newspaper or cardboard are an straightforward natural strategy to smother the grass and weeds. Lay the sheets out in an overlapping style. If utilizing a newspaper, keep away from the shiny magazine-style pages. Break down packing containers and guarantee all tape is faraway from the cardboard. Furnishings shops are an amazing useful resource for large sheets of cardboard.

To stop blowing away, instantly saturate the newspaper or cardboard with a hose. Then shovel compost or topsoil excessive. You’ll be able to seed instantly or go away the paper to smother the soil for 1-2 weeks earlier than planting. As a bonus, the sheet mulching provides natural matter because it decomposes and attracts many useful soil organisms like worms and fungi.

If you wish to get all the way down to the native soil instantly, use a shovel and rake to dig up the sod and take away it. Take away the complete chunks of sod and get rid of them within the trash or yard waste bin. You may also lease a sod cutter out of your native ironmongery shop to make it straightforward to chop the grass into strips and roll them up.

For the least labor-intensive technique, strive occultation or tarping. Use a big silage tarp that’s opaque in coloration (not see-through). Ideally, the tarp needs to be black or darkish inexperienced and marked for panorama or agricultural use. Lay your tarp over the grass for a number of weeks earlier than seeding. Safe the sides with sandbags, clean rocks, or bricks, and add a number of weights within the middle.

Go away the tarp in place for 2-3 weeks to smother the grass. The shortage of daylight will kill any crops beneath, making a clear planting floor to your thyme seeds. When you have numerous perennial weeds or aggressive grasses like quackgrass, you could wish to carry the tarp every week, water the world, go away it off for a day to encourage re-sprouting, after which cowl the crops once more. This helps exhaust the basis power of weedy perennials. You’ll be able to repeat as many occasions as wanted till the area is naked.

Though tilling will not be good for soil well being, a one-time tillage occasion might help you get your thyme garden established quick. You’ll be able to lease a rototiller from most garden and backyard shops. Put it on a shallow to medium setting (no must until tremendous deep) and chop up the grass on a sunny day. Go away the grass clippings to decompose in place. You’ll be able to seed instantly or wait 2-3 days for the grassroots to completely die again within the solar.

2. Take a look at Soil and Apply Compost

A soil pH meter is inserted into the dark, rich soil, measuring its acidity. In the background, an array of thriving green plants in the garden provides a lush and vibrant backdrop for this scientific endeavor.
Take a look at your soil and regulate its pH utilizing appropriate supplies if wanted.

Along with your garden’s grass accessible, it’s time to amend and put together for seeding. Creeping thyme is tolerant of a variety of soil situations so long as they’re well-drained. Like its Mediterranean cousins, rosemary and lavender, this plant is inclined to root rot and actually dislikes waterlogged soils. 

Heavy clay would require extra intensive amendments. Sandy loam and even gravelly and rocky soil is extra appropriate for a thyme garden substitute.

A impartial to alkaline pH between 6.5 to eight.0 is good for a thyme garden. Take a look at your soil with an at-home soil take a look at earlier than planting. Most turfgrass lawns are already at an appropriate pH, but when your soil is just too acidic, add dolomite lime, wooden ash, baking soda, or crushed oyster shells to boost the pH.

Compost is the secret sauce to a speedy thyme garden institution. This herb is understood to be very sluggish to begin, however should you give it a pleasant well-drained compost-rich soil, the seeds germinate and take off way more simply. Compost improves the soil construction, moisture retention, and fertility for a wonderful and long-lasting natural garden.

Relying on the scale of your yard, you possibly can dump store-bought baggage of compost or have a truckload of compost delivered to your property. Ask the dump truck driver to drop the compost as near the garden as doable so you possibly can simply wheelbarrow it round and rake it out easily.

A 1-2” thick layer is good, however deeper is ok. If you happen to can’t discover high quality compost, topsoil is an alternative choice. The thicker the higher layer, the sooner your thyme will anchor in. This additionally helps kill any remaining grass or weeds beneath.

If the soil beneath your turfgrass is exceptionally compacted or heavy in clay, broad forking can considerably enhance aeration and drainage. The lengthy, sharp tines of this distinctive software assist incorporate oxygen into decrease soil ranges so microorganisms can create higher soil construction. The holes supply extra space for compost to seep in so thyme roots can simply attain downward.

Broadforking is a little bit of a exercise, however you solely must do it as soon as to your yard. This historic software could be very straightforward to make use of and is a good funding for any gardener. Search for a YouTube video prematurely to get your method proper.

3. Select Your Selection

Thyme is available in many types and cultivars for various tastes and climates. All of those crops create a low-growing, dense carpet of fragrant leaves, however some are higher fitted to particular aesthetics.

Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

An exquisite Elfin Thyme features dainty flowers and tiny leaves. The charming blooms, in shades of pink and lavender, create a delightful contrast against the petite, emerald-green foliage.
This dwarf selection options brilliant pink tubular flowers and kinds a dense mat.

This dwarf selection is called ‘Elfin’ for its tiny leaves and compact development, maxing out at a mere 1-3 inches tall. Excellent for anybody who hates mowing! The tiny tubular flowers are brilliant pink and beloved by pollinators. The plant kinds a decent mat of leaves preferrred for giant expanses of garden and gaps between rocks or pavers. 

Pink Creeping Thyme (Thymus coccineus)

 The Red Creeping Thyme flourishes with light purple flowers gracing the lush green foliage. This striking combination of showy blossoms and vibrant leaves evokes a sense of natural beauty and vitality.
This selection spreads horizontally with stems that anchor in place and develop new roots.

Arguably the most well-liked groundcover selection, this plant has stems that develop horizontally. As soon as the stem touches the soil, it anchors in place and grows new roots from the stem.

The engaging pink flowers seem in late spring and summer season. The short-spreading behavior tolerates heavier foot visitors and emits a pleasant basic thyme scent when walked on.

Wooly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)

A close-up of Wooly Thyme reveals its small, oval-shaped leaves covered in a dense layer of fine, soft hairs. The leaves are a vibrant green color with a slightly silvery hue, and they form a lush carpet-like texture.
Wooly thyme’s vigorous, spreading stems are good for partially shaded lawns or rock backyard borders.

This pleasantly silver-hued thyme has pretty little whorls of leaves with a fuzzy texture. The vigorous stems root as they unfold throughout the soil, by no means rising greater than 2” tall. Its delicate look is sweet for {a partially} shaded garden or alongside pathways and rock backyard borders.

Magic Carpet Thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Magic Carpet’)

A close-up of Magic Carpet Thyme showcases its delicate, tiny pink flowers in full bloom. The flowers are clustered along slender stems and create a mesmerizing carpet of color. Each bloom is a symphony of soft pinks and purples.
This selection will certainly impress anybody passing by with its putting magenta summer season garden.

This dwarf cushiony selection is extra-short, darkish inexperienced, and magenta-flowered. It has lemon-scented leaves that kind dense mats wherever allowed. This selection will dazzle passersby if you would like a show-stopping magenta-blanketed garden in the summertime.

Lime Thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Lime’)

A close-up of Lime Thyme highlights its distinctive leaves, which are small and oval-shaped with a bright lime-green coloration. The leaves have a glossy appearance.
Keep in mind that this cultivar requires extra frequent mowing because it grows barely taller.

This brilliant inexperienced hybrid is prized for its vibrant coloration and citrus-scented leaves. The low-growing mat produces pastel pink flowers in late spring. ‘Lime’ affords a stunning lime-green hue between rock pavers, but it surely completely despises moist soil. It grows a bit taller than different varieties (as much as 6”), so it requires extra mowing.

Creeping Thyme Combine

A variety of thymes in full bloom is shown. One has light purple flowers, creating a soothing lavender-like hue. Another has pure white flowers that contrast beautifully with the lush green leaves. The third boasts vibrant green leaves that add a lively touch to the garden.
Purchase a combined thyme seed pack from a good provider to create a charming array of thyme varieties.

Buy a thyme combine from a seed provider for a various patchwork show of eye-catching varieties. These typically embrace a mixture of white, pink, and purple-flowered varieties with barely totally different foliage. Shake the bag completely to make sure even distribution.

4. Sow the Seeds

 A large bowl overflows with small, black thyme seeds
Direct seed for a cheap garden substitute.

Direct seeding is probably the most economical possibility for institution. Alternatively, buy flats of plugs or begin your individual seedlings indoors. Nevertheless, this may be considerably dearer and time-consuming. Solely transplant in case you have a small garden!

Most lawns have already got sprinklers in place, so that you may as effectively immediately sow the seeds and water them with the present irrigation system.

Most residential lawns within the U.S. common 5,000 to 10,000 sq. toes. To calculate the sq. footage, measure the size and width, then multiply them. You don’t have to be ultra-precise, but it surely helps to order the correct quantity of seed so that you don’t run out.

The overall sowing price advice is ⅛ pound of thyme seed per 5,000 sq. toes. A big garden will require ¼ to ½ kilos of seed or extra. When unsure, order barely extra seed than you suppose you want.

Sow seeds 6-8 weeks earlier than the primary fall frost or 1-2 weeks after the final spring frost. The climate needs to be cool however not too chilly. Keep away from seeding your thyme garden in further sizzling climate.

Plant seeds about ¼ inch deep and evenly press into the soil along with your palms or toes. You don’t wish to cowl them with an excessive amount of soil, or they gained’t have the power to sprout from deep underground.

Sow roughly 2-4 seeds per sq. foot. If transplanting, plant wholesome seedlings 8-12” aside. Once more, there isn’t a want for ultra-precise calculations right here. Simply make sure that the seeds are evenly distributed throughout the soil floor. If you would like the garden to fill in rapidly, sow extra densely.

Broadcast (scatter) them by the handful or use a hand-powered seed spreader for extra even protection. If you happen to by chance drop too many seeds in a single spot, don’t fear! You’ll be able to rake them out or permit them to develop further thick.

The typical germination time is 14-21 days. If you happen to don’t get any rain, your new garden will want water 1-3 occasions per week throughout the institution interval. The soil mustn’t dry out throughout germination.

5. Water Constantly

A close-up of Elfin thyme showcases its petite yet captivating features. The blooms are tiny and pink, nestled among small, glossy green leaves that form a dense mat. Delicate, slender stems support the charming blooms.
As soon as the crops are well-rooted, they change into immune to drought and require much less moisture.

It’s essential to present constant moisture throughout the institution part, which generally lasts 3-4 weeks. Examine on the thyme on daily basis and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. That is probably the most water your garden will ever want. However whereas doing this, you also needs to make sure the soil doesn’t change into soggy or waterlogged.

When completely rooted, the crops change into drought-resistant and don’t want practically as a lot moisture. This often begins taking place in weeks 3 or 4. As soon as seedlings emerge and begin filling out, guarantee at the very least 6” between crops for optimum development. When you have an enormous yard, crouching down and pruning each part is pointless. Simply be certain there aren’t any thick areas the place seedlings are crammed towards their neighbors. 

You additionally must take away any main weeds early on. When the thyme finishes spreading, it is going to choke every part else out with out problem.

After the primary month, you possibly can in the reduction of watering to as soon as weekly or much less if there’s rain. The crops will inform you if they’re thirsty by wilting barely or slowing development. If you’re overwatering or the soil isn’t correctly drained, the crops might flip yellow. On this case, it might assist to broad fork or wait till the soil dries and the crops are higher established.

6. Prune or Mow 1-3 Instances Per Season

A hand skillfully trims a thyme twig laden with leaves using pruning shears. The process is precise and controlled, ensuring a tidy and healthy plant while offering a bounty of fresh thyme leaves for culinary endeavors.
If you happen to seeded within the fall, you gained’t must do something till the next spring.

Lastly, the straightforward half! After all of the work of creating your new garden, you possibly can sit again and loosen up till it grows to a number of inches tall. These yards solely want mowing or pruning a number of occasions per yr. Don’t begin mowing till the crops attain 2-3” tall and seem lush and wholesome. If you happen to seeded in fall, you gained’t must do something till the next spring.

Set your garden mower on a excessive setting for a extra manicured garden to keep away from slicing the thyme too brief. Mow as soon as within the spring and once more in the summertime if the crops develop rapidly. This may create probably the most dense, cushiony carpet of shiny bluish-green leaves.

If you wish to benefit from the vibrant thyme flowers, mow within the early spring and keep away from mowing once more till the tip of summer season when the blossoms start fading. Fall mowing might help forestall woody development the next yr. After that, this plant will care for itself for years to come back! 

This herb lives for 3-5 years however eagerly self-sows, so the garden can thrive for ten years or extra! It sometimes doesn’t require any main upkeep as soon as established.

Closing Ideas

An alternate garden is an unimaginable selection for eco-friendly landscapers and gardeners who wish to spend much less time weeding, watering, and mowing grass. Creeping thyme has the benefit of being drought-tolerant, aromatic, and pest-deterrent. It’s naturally low-growing, so that you solely must mow a couple of times a yr. 

The important thing to institution is correctly smothered grass and compost utility. I like to recommend laying newspaper, overlaying it with compost, broad forking, and broadcasting the seed about eight weeks earlier than your anticipated fall frost. Keep steady moisture for the primary month, and watch your thyme fill in all through autumn and winter. The garden can take as much as one yr to succeed in its full glory, however it’s best to have a pleasant cushion of herbaceous development by the next spring.

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