Creeping Thyme Lawn: How To Transform Your Yard With This Delightful Herb

A creeping thyme lawn is a lovely, low-maintenance alternative to traditional turf grass. Here's how to replace your lawn with this aromatic herb.

Creeping thyme lawn growing under tree
(Image credit: Laszlo Podor / Getty Images)

Creeping thyme is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional grass lawn for gardeners looking for more sustainable front yard designs. Many are choosing to replace water thirsty turf with plants that are low-maintenance and drought-resistant, and a creeping thyme lawn hits the mark. Let's find out why and how you can transform your turf landscape into an easy and edible creeping thyme lawn.

Benefits of a Creeping Thyme Lawn

A creeping thyme lawn is not only drought resistant, but it generally requires much less water than traditional turf grasses too. It is hardy to USDA zone 4, can be walked upon, and will rapidly spread to fill in a space. As an added bonus, thyme blooms in a long-lasting profusion of lavender hued flowers.

The downside of planting thyme as lawn replacement is the cost. Planting a creeping thyme lawn with plants set 6 to 12 inches (15-31 cm.) apart can be pricey, but then again, if you have looked into reseeding or of laying sod for an entire turf lawn, the cost is fairly comparable. That's probably why I usually only see small areas of creeping thyme lawn.

Most people use creeping thyme to fill in pathways and around patio pavers-- smaller areas than the average lawn size. Most varieties of thyme are tolerant of light foot traffic. Some cultivars to try in your thyme lawn include:

You can also alternate varieties or create a pattern by planting a different type of thyme around the border of the pseudo-lawn.

Creeping Thyme Lawn

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to Remove Grass for a Creeping Thyme Lawn

The biggest problem with using thyme to replace grass is the work it will take preparing the site. It takes some doing to rid the area of all the existing grass. Of course, you can always go with the easy, albeit not so eco-friendly method of multiple applications of herbicide.

The next option is good old-fashioned, back breaking, digging up of the sod. Consider it a work out.

Lastly, you can always make a lasagna garden by covering the entire area with black plastic, cardboard, or lots of newspaper layers covered in compost or mulch. The idea here is to cut off all light to the grass and weeds underneath, basically smothering the plants. This method requires patience, as it takes a few months to completely kill off the top and even longer to get all the roots, though it is a simple and sustainable way to remove grass.

How to Plant a Creeping Thyme Lawn

Till the area when the process grass removal process is complete. Then get rid of any big chunks of rock or root before attempting to transplant the thyme plugs.

When the soil is ready to be worked, add some bone meal or rock phosphate along with some compost to the soil and work it in, down to about 6 inches (15 cm.) since thyme has short roots.

Prior to planting, make sure the thyme plants are damp. Plant the thyme plugs about 8 inches (20 cm.) apart and water in well.

Say goodbye to fertilizing, thatching, regular watering, and even mowing. Though, some people do mow the thyme lawn after flowers are spent, but it's okay to be a little lazy and leave the area as is.

Amy Grant

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.