Herb lawns and GROUNDCOVERS

Plant aro­matic herbs along your gar­den’s main routes, or be­tween pavers, or grow a herb lawn to sink your bare feet into dur­ing sum­mer.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Grow Your Own Herb Garden -

If you have a spot in your back­yard with bare soil or dis­pens­able lawn, turn it into a fra­grant herb lawn. Chamomile, thyme, sweet woodruff ( Gal­ium odor­a­tum), sweet vi­o­let ( Vi­ola odor­ata) and Cor­si­can mint ( Men­tha re­quienii) work well as groundcovers, with chamomile and thyme mak­ing ex­cel­lent lawn sub­sti­tutes. Both re­quire a sunny spot with free-drain­ing soil, although chamomile will tol­er­ate light shade. Clay soils will work, as long as you improve the drainage first. Pumice, grit or sand and or­ganic mat­ter should be dug in to a depth of at least 15cm be­fore plant­ing your herbs.

Thyme is drought-tol­er­ant and pro­duces masses of pur­ple, pink or white flow­ers in spring or sum­mer, de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety. The creeping thymes ( Thy­mus ser­pyl­lum and all its va­ri­eties) are ideal for lawns. Woolly thyme ( Thy­mus pseu­dolanug­i­nosus) also makes a great ground­cover, as does Thy­mus ‘Doone Val­ley’ and emer­ald car­pet thyme ( Thy­mus prae­cox subsp. arcti­cus), which has white flow­ers in sum­mer. There are many va­ri­eties of thyme that suit lawns; check your local gar­den cen­tre or online.

For a chamomile lawn, grow Ro­man chamomile ( Chamaemelum no­bile), not Ger­man chamomile ( Ma­tri­caria re­cu­tita), which is the taller grow­ing an­nual. Ro­man chamomile is a hardy peren­nial that forms a low-grow­ing mat of ev­er­green fo­liage. Chamaemelum no­bile needs to be clipped once or twice a year to keep it tidy, though the va­ri­ety ‘Tre­neague’, which grows only 5cm-10cm high, needs no clip­ping at all. ‘Tre­neague’ doesn't have flow­ers, but it is the best chamomile to grow for lawns.

For a mint-flavoured ground­cover for part shade, try Cor­si­can mint, a de­li­ciously scented plant with the tini­est leaves. It can be grown as a lawn sub­sti­tute or be­tween pavers where your feet can brush against it and re­lease its per­fume.

An­other low main­te­nance op­tion is golden creeping Jenny ( Lysi­machia num­mu­la­ria ‘Aurea’), with its low-grow­ing car­pet of leaves that are gold in full sun and green-gold in shade. It pro­duces yel­low flow­ers from late spring into sum­mer. Much like ajuga, the stems root in the ground any­where they touch, so new plants can be prop­a­gated by sim­ply mov­ing plantlets around the gar­den.

A great ground­cover for wood­land con­di­tions is sweet woodruff, with its starry white flow­ers in late spring. It’s par­tic­u­larly use­ful for shade gar­dens. Plants are ev­er­green in mild win­ters; in colder ar­eas new growth ap­pears in spring. The leaves of this herb were once used as an air fresh­ener, but the vanilla-like fra­grance is only ap­par­ent af­ter they’ve dried. Sweet woodruff is quick to spread by run­ners.

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