Thyme for Patio
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Jim Dionne
Posted on: April 13, 1998

We put down a bluestone patio with 1-2 inch spaces between the stones and hoped to finish the look with a low growing thyme (mother-of-thyme?) but are now unsure whether that will work. Any ideas for a creeping plant that will "fill" the spaces between the stones, survive New Jersey winters, stand up to some normal patio traffic, and give us that "english garden" feel?

Wild thyme or mother-of-thyme would be a good choice for planting between your patio stones. A lower growing species, unfortunately not available as seed would be creeping thyme, Thymus praecox. Both of those varieties are quite indestructible and winter hardy. Also both are quite nice for culinary use.

Since most of New Jersey is in Zone 7 your choice increases quite a bit. You could grow the delightfully fragrant and beautifully coloured ‘Doone Valley’ lemon thyme, caraway thyme, coconut thyme, lavender thyme, silver needle thyme and if you have a bit of patience-the delightfully dense and tiny leaved minus thyme. Another wonderful rather recent introduction is the orange spice thyme. It has a lovely scent, good cooking flavour and a nice ground hugging habit.

Of course thymes are not the only plants that can be used between patio stones. A few examples are:

If you don’t mind a lack of scent, rupturewort, Herniaria glabra forms very ground hugging mats and would be something different and medicinally useful. Catsfoot produces low mats of woolly leaves and eventually rewards you with pretty pink or white flowers in late spring.

Creeping savory is a slow growing but very fragrant plant with good culinary properties. Another choice would be English lawn chamomile with a delightful scent released when stepped on.

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