Why Creeping Thyme Is the Lawn Alternative You Need

Isn't it thyme you fell back in love with your yard? Replacing your lawn with creeping thyme will help you do just that.

Published October 23, 2023
creeping thyme

Earlier this summer, while on a walk through my neighborhood, I mulled over how to take control of my own lawn and add some color without adding maintenance. Several blocks away, I spotted a plant covering an expanse of a neighbor's yard, sprawling from house to sidewalk, and even over a small decorative rock wall.

I stood and stared for a little longer than I should have, because I was absolutely smitten with how this plant looked. My plant identification app (thank goodness for apps) identified the lawn as creeping thyme. And since I spotted it, I have dreams of having my own creeping thyme lawn. 

Why Creeping Thyme?

Besides how gorgeous it is and how cottagey it feels, there are lots of reasons a creeping thyme lawn might be the perfect grass replacement.

  • It attracts pollinators. More butterflies and bumblebees? Yes, please!
  • You don't have to mow it! Yes — this one excites everyone in my household old enough to operate a lawn mower. 
  • It's low maintenance. While it does need a trim a few times a year to keep it tidy, there's not much else you have to do with it once the lawn has established. 
  • It doesn't require as much water as grass. It's an environmentally friendly solution, and it's a perfect xeriscaping solution.
  • It repels mosquitos. Imagine reclaiming your yard during the summer without bug spray. It also repels deer and rabbits.
  • It repels weeds. Yay!
  • It smells amazing. Imagine releasing the scent of thyme with every step you take on your lawn — and yes, you can walk on it.
  • You can eat it. Maybe wash it first if you've been walking on it, but it's completely edible.

How to Replace Your Lawn With Creeping Thyme

Thyme, like time, moves slowly. To get your thyme off to a good start, you'll want to buy several plants, or plugs, rather than starting from seed. Although, if you have the patience and time, there is a reward that comes with starting this project from the very first sprout. Otherwise, plant your creeping thyme plugs in either the spring or the fall. Planting in the summer heat can cause the thyme to fail to thrive. It thrives in full sun and prefers dryer conditions.

  1. Before settling your creeping thyme plants in, you'll need to get rid of your turf. Dig out the area of grass (including the root) you're replacing and till the earth, so you have only dirt. You'll need the soil to be well-draining. You may need to amend the soil to help with draining and add some compost.
  2. Before committing the plants to the dirt, plan their placement so you can have a good idea of whether you have enough before you start digging
  3. Plant larger plants 10-12 inches deep, while you'll want to do six inches for smaller plants, and space plants 8-12 inches apart.
  4. Once you have your thyme in the ground, be sure to water thoroughly at the start and then less and less as they become more established. 
Quick Tip

You don't need to start with the entire lawn at once. You can do small portions at a time and propagate your plants as they grow to save a few dollars when it comes to planting your next section. 

Creeping Thyme Maintenance

Closeup image of young woman hand picking thymus

Creeping thyme requires minimal watering, no mowing, and no weekly trimming. It does require you to give it a trimming once or twice during the year in summer in colder regions, and a couple more times a year for those who have a perpetual summer. You want to keep it looking good, after all. 

Disadvantages of a Creeping Thyme Lawn

The main disadvantage to a creeping thyme lawn is cost. Depending on the size of your yard, it can be expensive to plant all that creeping thyme. Because of that, you may wish to start with small sections to see how you like it (such as near walkways or pavers) before you go for the full lawn replacement.

Also, while the creeping thyme is getting established, you should avoid walking on it. 

Facts and Tips About Creeping Thyme

creeping thyme lawn

As you set off on your creeping thyme lawn journey, go forth with a few of these fun facts about this gorgeous grass replacement. 

  • Creeping thyme is hardy as far north as zone 4. That leaves a lot of the contiguous United States to enjoy creeping thyme. 
  • If you live somewhere that rain isn't plentiful, no need to stress. Like most low-maintenance plants, creeping thyme is drought resistant. 
  • Red creeping thyme doesn't use a single anchor point when growing. As it grows and spreads along the ground, it establishes new roots along the way. 
  • Creeping thyme makes for an excellent companion plant for vegetable and herb gardens, since it keeps deer and rabbits away. More carrots for you! 
@colorado.monica  the magical fairy garden of your dreams#cottagecore #garden #fairy #fairycore #fairygarden #gardening  #growfood #homestead #budgetgardening #growflowers #spring #gardening101 #gardenproject #thyme #landscaping #pollinators #pollinatorgarden  Elevator Music - Bohoman

Thyme to Liven Up Your Yard

Is it time to give your yard a much-needed makeover? For starters, mine sure is. As someone with a small front yard and not much of a green thumb, swapping grass for creeping thyme lets me live my dream life of a beautiful yard without all the dollar signs. Hop aboard the creeping thyme train and prepare for the compliments to flood your life. There's no need to keep your secret on the down low. How else is every supposed to know? Go ahead and creep.

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Why Creeping Thyme Is the Lawn Alternative You Need