Inspired Gardens: Growing A Thyme Lawn

One of the biggest benefits of a Thyme lawn is that it is low-maintenance.

From mid-May to mid-June the Thyme is in full bloom. One of the biggest benefits of a Thyme lawn is that it is low-maintenance.

Tips For How To Grow A Thyme Lawn In Albuquerque, NM

When Vic and Barb Bruno built their new home in the year 2000 they were city dwellers, used to a small lot with a “watersucking” lawn and plants. The biggest challenge they faced when landscaping their new home in a semi-rural area just outside the city limits was that the lot was subject to water restrictions and shared a common well with three other homes. Water-thrifty landscaping was a priority.

“We have a large lot and have a lot of landscaping,” said Vic Bruno. “It required that we have low water use landscaping, with a preference toward xeric plants.”

The Thyme lawn eventually thickened enough to be a carpet-like mat of color.

The Thyme lawn eventually thickened enough to be a carpet-like mat of color.

Thyme Lawn: A Drought-Resistant (Xeric) Choice

Bruno, whose work includes commercial property management, did a lot of research before selecting his Pink Chintz Thyme lawn. “I would get on the Internet and research which plants are xeric. I came across High County Gardens website and got your catalog. It did a wonderful job of telling mature plant size, how much water it would need, and whether it would repel deer and rabbits, the latter of which we had a ton of.”

Bruno visited High Country Gardens’ bricks and mortar store, Santa Fe Greenhouses (no longer in business) to see what offerings they had. “I still wanted some color and a thyme lawn was suggested. They said Pink Chintz Thyme would work if I didn’t expect to walk on it very much,” said Bruno.

The greenhouse staff advised the Thyme be planted 12-18” on center and thought it would fill in about six months. In reality, it took closer to two years. Vic Bruno believes it took so long because the soil is quite poor (clay loam) and it would have filled in more quickly if they had done a better job amending the soil.

“There was section of the front yard where the ground level was about four feet below the slab so there was almost no yard,” explained Bruno. “We imported clean soil from a construction site. I improved that with just some peat moss and fertilizer mix."

After the second season Bruno began to add a compost mix and the Thyme plugs started to spread out and flower. “In the initial form we’d have the clumps growing, it was a little bumpy at first. It flowered in the valleys, not at the top of the clump,” said Bruno. When it all filled in to the same level, it flowered everywhere. It eventually thickened enough to be a carpet-like mat of color.

 

How Much To Water A Thyme Lawn

In the spring months, mid-March to mid-April, just as things are starting to green up the Brunos water once a week for 18-22 minutes on conventional sprayers (1/2”). During the summer months (mid-June through August) the lawn is watered on average about three times a week. They scale back on watering again come September through mid-November and find the evergreen lawn will brown out a bit in the winter.

Bruno says he can easily gauge the conditions of the Thyme’s water needs. “If you overwater it turns yellow, if you underwater it turns crispy,” said Bruno. “It’s pretty drought tolerant.”

Thyme | Thymus >> View All

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Low Maintenance Thyme Lawn

One of the biggest benefits of the Thyme lawn is that it is low-maintenance. From mid-May to mid-June the Thyme is in full bloom; after that Bruno finds the rabbits will “mow” the lawn by feeding on the stems of the flowers after they drop. In natural areas the Thyme will just keep creeping. Bruno will sometimes edge it for a cleaner look.

“I’ve been reluctant to use any grass type fertilizer, but I will spray it with some granular fertilizer from time to time,” advised Bruno.

“It doesn’t require much care besides watering it at a reasonable level. You don’t have to mow it,” said Bruno. “A couple times a year I’ll turn the sprayers on to lightly wet the plants and use a rake with tines that are far apart and lift it up and remove debris that blows in with seasonal winds. It looks a lot better when you do that. Wetting it is better; if you rake while dry it can snag and tear.”

“When we have an occasional bare spot develop, we just take a bulb-type soil corer and transplant a few plugs as needed, backfilling the remaining hole with good soil and letting it fill back in fairly soon afterward,” said Bruno.

In addition to the thyme lawn, other xeric plants in the garden include Lavender, Yarrow, Catmint, Potentilla, Caryopteris and Rosemary plants, and Rabbitbrush (Chamisa).

Other xeric plants in the Bruno's garden include Lavender, Yarrow, Catmint, Potentilla, Caryopteris and Rosemary plants, and Rabbitbrush (Chamisa).

The other plants around it are xeric plants most of which get by on the overspray of the lawn sprinklers, and include a nearly wild Rose, Lavender, Yarrow, Catmint, Potentilla, Caryopteris and Rosemary plants, as well as volunteer rabbitbrush (Chamisa), planted along the edge of lawn at the top of the slope for wind protection and erosion control.

“Seasonal winds will occasionally drop seed from some of the xeric plants into the lawn,” said Bruno. “Once or twice during the growing season we’ll pull out any plants that have self-seeded in the lawn.

Advice For Establishing A Thyme Lawn

Bruno has some advice to those wanting to plant a Thyme lawn. “I’d make sure to plant them no more than 12” on center, which might mean a few more plugs,” he said. “I’d also suggest people do a soil analysis to see what the PH is, so you have a balanced soil without too much clay and sand. I think it prefers a faster draining soil than what we have.”

One of the biggest advantages of the Thyme lawn has been its resilience. “I’ve had people say that it might get woody, but I haven’t seen that,” said Bruno. “We had people tell us that it would die out, but here we are 16 years later.”

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By Wendy Hatoum, Marketing Brand Manager, High Country Gardens

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