Considering a New Type of Lawn

New Type of Lawn

By Suzanne Waring

When we think of thyme, most of us think of herbs, such as Lemon, English, and French Thyme that are found in our spice cabinets. Other varieties of thyme are used as spatial ground cover or even to replace entire lawns, especially if landscaping objects, such as pavers and rocks, make mowing difficult or where water for irrigating lawns is at a premium.

“Woolly and Crawling Thyme are almost ‘plant it and then forget it’ plants. A pleasant fragrance is emitted when the thyme is walked on,” said Marcia Bundi of Bundi Gardens in Great Falls, Montana.

Woolly thyme is actually an old variety that has found recent interest. With silver-gray multiple miniature leaves, it’s called woolly because of its little hairs. Happiest in sun or partial sun, this type of thyme grows only to the height of around two inches and stays that way. Remaining a gray green all winter, it can give an area an attractive appearance over that of brown grass. It can tolerate dry conditions, such as those that are found in many parts of the country in mid-to-late summer. An outstanding feature is that it never needs mowing. Woolly thyme will bloom in the spring with little purple flowers, giving the mat a greater attention-drawing appearance. The edges of the plant can be clipped back to encourage growth.

“I bought woolly thyme last spring, and following Marcia’s instructions, I planted the two sections on either side of our front door on the east side of the house,” said Marla Meyers. “By the end of July, the space had completely filled in, and it is a dark green. I walk on it all of the time.”
Linda Misner also of Great Falls, thinks that she has two varieties of crawling thyme that she planted on a boulevard a good twenty years ago because she wanted something attractive any time of the year for people to see as they drove past. One variety has a red flower that blooms in the spring. The second variety has the small purple flower that blooms in the fall. “I rarely water them except when it’s dry in late summer,“ said Misner. “Both varieties are out in full sun.”

Wooly and crawling thyme usually don’t need fertilization. The result of it turning brown is usually poor soil drainage. Ground cover thyme is a perennial that survives in Zones 4-7. As self-sustaining plants, they are a pleasure for the disinterested homeowner. Buying plants in small containers is better than trying to start them from seed because it takes close to a year before the thyme is ready to be planted outdoors.

People are replacing their lawns with woolly and crawling thyme because of the nice appearance and resistance to drought. Though costly at the onset, starting a small, landscaped area or even a lawn with thyme might be a real savings over time because it is almost maintenance free. MSN

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