Creeping Thyme in Checker Block Pavers
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Diana Drake
Posted on: May 21, 2004

I’ve read many of your answers about using herbs between stones, but I want to ask your advice in our particular case.

Our landscape architecture firm is doing a small public project with a small budget in the Bronx (New York City, NY, USA). A portion (70’ x 96’) of the very sunny open space will be paved with CheckerBlock (tm) Pavers (Hastings).

These are 2’ square precast concrete pavers that look something like an egg crate, with 3" sq.(7.5 cm sq.) solid spaces surrounded by 3" sq. open spaces (okay, it looks like a checkerboard, too). The concrete grid is 4" (10cm) deep, and Hasting’s detail suggests it resting on a sand bed over the subgrade.

The holes can be filled with crushed stone (gravel) or soil and plants (e.g., grass or groundcovers)

We want to use crushed stone in much of this open space because it will have high traffic, and we’d like to plant groundcover in the remainder for a number of reasons. (E.g., we don’t want to use grass because mowing might be a problem.

As mentioned, the budget is low, so we’d like to start the ground cover from seed.

It seems the best bet would be Magic Carpet Lemon Thyme (Thymus praecox articus ‘Magic Carpet’) and/or Wild Thyme (T. pulegiodes [T. serpylum]). The latter is significantly cheaper, but we might be able to spring for an area or two with the MC Lemon Thyme.

Do you think this would work for us? We would put soil in the areas we intend to plant. (Recommendations please? You once suggested loose soil with some percentage of peat moss, but isn’t that prone to drying out dramatically?) If the thyme moves into the all-gravel areas, too, that will be fine.

Once peat moss dries out it is very hard to re-wet, but it does hold more water than anything else I am aware of. You might want to use peat moss on the bottom of the planting hole to keep it away from the drying sun and be sure to have a heavy pebble mulch over the planting hole. This mulch will stop rapid drying and also prevent weeds from getting a foot-hold. I would suggest pea gravel as the mulch material and have a layer about 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) deep to work properly.

I note that you often suggest starting the seed in plugs, which will give the thyme a fighting chance against weeds if there is inadequate maintenance (we’ll have perhaps none). Would you suggest that in our case?

Yes, definitely. Seeds would get not succeed without maintainance.

If all this sounds plausible, and the best bet for our purposes, can you suggest the seeding rate per square foot, and what sort of time frame (yes, I started to write thyme frame) we’ll need? And any other helpful advice you can offer.

For this please go to our web-site at go to the "Commercial " Section, click on "the Grower Zone" then click on "Pro-Growers" located on the left of the screen and then click on "thyme"


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