Lawns made of herbs are traditional to English and European gardens. The herbs used are generally very hardy, very scented and very sturdy. They need to bounce back quickly after being walked upon. This light crush releases the pungent aroma of those herbs beneath the gardener’s feet. This is the essence of herbal lawns.
Gardeners don’t have to replace all the grass that covers the open areas of their yards – the real romance of herbal lawns is in the surprise. Even a small herbal lawn or pockets of suitable herbs in the grass lawn will release those scents as people walk over them. Rather than a stone path to the front door, make it a herbal path. Or cut a large square out of the grass lawn and replace it with the herb you choose.
The ground under the new lawn must be well-drained. When it’s being prepared before planting, remove all the weeds and every stray hair-thin visible root. Don’t shake the weed’s roots into the same ground, to release the dirt. There may be weed and grass seeds in that soil.
The goal is to have a clean planting bed – one that won’t have unwanted plants popping up between the new herbs. Remove stones, twigs and rubble as well. When it’s ready, add some well-rotted or composted manure and rake the area until the bed is flat and level.
Some of the best plants for a lawn of herbs are chamomile and thyme. Thyme flowers in a variety of colors including white, pink, mauve and purple. Most varieties are hardy to zone 3. A huge square of thyme varieties is very attractive for scent and its visual effect.
The flower of the chamomile is small with white petals and yellow centers. It is hardy to zone 5. Both of these plants fit the criteria of being scented and sturdy. They can be walked upon and clipped annually in autumn to keep them low and growing outward, rather than upward. They will soon cover the bed with no dirt showing. When not in flower these plants will provide a dense green scented lawn. With herbs, the scent is in the leaves.
Other plants suitable for flower lawns include most plants that are known as “walk-upons.” Not all are herbs, but still work well for their strength and color. The gardener could choose creeping speedwell, Irish moss, Corsican mint, moneywort and sandwort. These all flower nicely, but are not as scented as creeping thyme and chamomile.
The best way to supply plants and increase stock for the new lawn is also the cheapest: propagation by seed. One ounce of seed will supply roughly 100 square feet. Sow the seed directly in the ground in April or soon after the last expected frost. Spread the seeds evenly and rake them gently into the surface so they are lightly covered with soil. Spray water with a light mist and keep the bed moist, especially in the first few weeks.