Herbal Ground Covers
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Fereshteh Hashemi
Posted: Before April 1998

I’m planning on replacing the grass in our front lawn with groundcover and would like to use herbs. What type of herb can tolerate a lot of trampling. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Thanks!

Several options are available depending on your budget and your locality. Chamomile is a popular lawn replacement in warmer areas, at least zone 6 or higher. Chamomile is not reliably hardy in lower zones as winter will set it back too much or even kill it. If you choose chamomile, plant the Roman or English types (Chamaemelum or Anthemis). These are perennial, and there is even one non-flowering variety, Treneague, that is often recommended for lawns. The German types are not suitable because they are not low growing and mat-forming and because they are annuals. The standard Roman variety is the only one that can be established by seeds; the others must be purchased as plants.

You can also try the creeping thymes. The wild thyme is a hardy, vigorous variety suited for sunny, dry locations. Because it is the only creeping thyme that can be grown from seeds, it is the most popular ground-cover thyme. Other creeping thymes are slower growing and cannot be grown from seeds.

We have seen a very nice lawn of common yarrow (Achillea millifolium). It can be established by seeds, it tolerates trampling, and it is very hardy. Yarrow is a common pasture plant in Europe for livestock so we are sure it will survive two children! The only drawback is that it will bolt into flower in summer, reaching up to 30-40 cm (12-15 inches). However, it will tolerate cutting like grass so several runs with the lawn mower will keep the plant in check.

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