When I think of chamomile, I think of soothing, rejuvenating chamomile tea. Indeed, the blossoms of chamomile plant are used as tea as well as for cosmetic, decorative, and medicinal uses, but did you know that some varieties of chamomile make an excellent lawn alternative? How to grow chamomile as lawn replacement and other chamomile lawn care necessary to grow chamomile lawn plants is covered in this article.
Growing Chamomile Lawns
Growing chamomile lawns have a few advantages over grass turf. They do not require regular mowing, fertilizing, or edging and are ideal in areas where mower access is a challenge and foot traffic is minimal. The German variety, Matricicaria chamomile, grows between 1 and 2 feet (31-61 cm.) tall and is used around beds or amongst the garden proper. It is grown not only for decorative purposes, but this type of chamomile is used for its herbal, medicinal qualities. If you wish to grow chamomile as a lawn alternative, you will need the English variety, Chamaemelum nobile. These chamomile lawn plants provide a low-growing, creeping habit. That being said, C. nobile is a flowering variety and not quite as suitable for a lawn substitute as the cultivar ‘Treneague,' which is a non-flowering dwarf cultivar.
How to Grow Chamomile as Lawn
Chamomile lawn plants thrive in full sun, but will tolerate dappled shade. They require light soil, such as sandy loam, and do not do well in dry, stone-filled soils or heavy clay. Thoroughly remove all the weeds in the planting area beforehand, as chamomile does not compete well with many weeds. Plant the chamomile lawn with plants spaced about 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm.) apart. Closer spacing gives more rapid coverage, but will cost you more and the plants will fill in fairly quickly. You can either purchase these plants or divide existing plants in the spring. Unnamed cultivars or species chamomile can be sown from seed and then grown in pots until large enough to transplant into the lawn area. Sow seeds under cover in the early spring with a heated germination pad set to 65 degrees F. (18 C.) in good quality compost mixed with perlite for added drainage. The plants should be of sufficient size to plant out in the lawn area by late spring.
Chamomile Lawn Care
A new chamomile lawn should not be walked on for at least 12 weeks and, thereafter, as rarely as possible to allow it to establish. Once established, there is minimal need for care of your chamomile lawn. That's generally the point. Keep the area moist and either manually keep the weeds out or use a spot weed killer, not lawn weed killer. Trim with a mower or shears in the late summer to remove dead flower heads and generally maintain a pleasing shape. Otherwise, enjoy your minimal care green “lawn” peppered with tiny daisy-like flowers which, when walked on, have an aroma redolent of sweet apples.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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