Plant a Carpet of Fragrance: A Complete Guide to Growing Creeping Thyme Between Your Pavers
Adding creeping thyme between pavers is a great way to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. With its trailing stems and aromatic foliage, this hardy herb makes an excellent groundcover that releases a pleasant scent when walked on. Creeping thyme is relatively easy to grow, naturally drought-resistant, and adds a pop of color between pavers with its dainty pink or purple flowers.
In this comprehensive guide covering how to plant creeping thyme between pavers, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know for success. You’ll learn handy tips for preparing the soil, choosing the right thyme varieties, proper planting techniques, and ongoing care and maintenance. With the right approach, you can create a gorgeous pathway or patio accentuated by the natural charm of creeping thyme.
Why Choose Creeping Thyme for Pavers?
Creeping thyme adds ornamental value and tantalizing fragrance to pathways, patios, walkways or stepping stone arrangements. Here are some of the top reasons to consider this hardy herb for the spaces between your pavers:
- Aesthetic Appeal: With tiny leaves and petite flowers, creeping thyme serves as a living ornamental to enhance drab paving. The trailing stems elegantly drape between pavers for a naturally soft look.
- Ease of Growth: Thyme grows easily from seed or cuttings and spreads readily between cracks. It’s resilient to most outdoor conditions.
- Drought Resistance: Once established, creeping thyme is highly drought tolerant and requires minimal watering. The succulent leaves and stems store moisture well.
- Soft Foliage: The small leaves and trailing stems create a cushy, soft surface underfoot when walking on the pavers. Thyme naturally releases its aroma when stepped on.
- Pest and Disease Resistance: Deer and rabbits tend to leave thyme alone. It’s also resistant to most common plant diseases.
- Evergreen Filler: Creeping thyme retains its foliage year round in most climates, providing greenery between pavers even in winter.
With the right growing conditions and care, creeping thyme will gracefully spread to provide gorgeous groundcover between your pavers or stones.
Materials Needed for Planting Creeping Thyme
Before heading out to plant, ensure you have the necessary materials and tools on hand:
- Creeping thyme plants or seeds – Good hardy varieties include English thyme, elfin thyme or German creeping thyme. Purchase from a nursery or online store.
- Trowel or hand fork – For digging holes and mixing amendments into the soil.
- Compost or organic fertilizer – To enrich the soil for strong root development.
- Landscape edging (optional) – Helps contain the creeping thyme between the pavers.
- Granular pre-emergent herbicide (optional) – Prevents weed seeds from germinating between pavers.
- Gardening gloves & kneeler – Protect your hands and knees during planting.
- Watering can – For watering the thyme immediately after planting and beyond.
- Spray bottle of white vinegar – For organic weed control between pavers.
With your materials prepped, you’re ready to get planting! Proper soil preparation is key to give your creeping thyme the best start.
Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Creeping Thyme Between Pavers
Follow these simple steps for planting creeping thyme that will gracefully spread and thrive between your pavers or stepping stones:
Prepare the Soil
Creeping thyme grows best in well-draining yet nutrient-rich soil. Follow these tips to prepare the ground:
- Loosen the existing soil between the pavers with a trowel or hand fork. Remove any weeds.
- Mix in 1-2 inches of compost or organic fertilizer to enrich the soil.
- Level and lightly pack down the soil. The ideal depth is 1-2 inches below the pavers.
- Water thoroughly to moisten the soil before planting.
Prepping the soil gives the thyme roots room to spread out and get established.
Plant the Creeping Thyme
Now you’re ready to put those plants in the ground! Here are a few guidelines:
- If using young potted plants, gently loosen the roots before planting.
- Dig holes between the pavers spaced 8-12 inches apart. The holes only need to be about 1-2 inches deep and wide.
- Place one thyme plant in each hole and fill in the soil around it. Firm the soil gently with your hands.
- Water well after planting to remove any air pockets in the soil.
- Consider adding landscape edging along the perimeter to contain the creeping thyme between the pavers.
Plant in the morning or evening to avoid the hot midday sun. Place the plants close enough for the stems to interweave as they spread.
Caring for Newly Planted Creeping Thyme
Proper care in the first weeks after planting will help your thyme establish strong roots:
- Water whenever the top inch of soil dries out. Provide about 1 inch of water per week.
- Weed diligently around the thyme plants so weeds don’t steal water and nutrients.
- Apply an organic liquid fertilizer once every 2-3 weeks during the first months.
- Avoid foot traffic over the thyme for about 2 weeks after planting.
- Check for signs of disease or pests and treat organically if found.
With attentive early care, the thyme will root in and begin spreading into a beautiful groundcover between the pavers.
Tips for Maintaining Creeping Thyme Between Pavers
Once established, creeping thyme requires minimal care to look its best:
- Water deeply once a week during warm and dry weather. Thyme prefers infrequent deep soakings versus frequent light watering.
- Reduce watering in cooler weather, but don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.
- Avoid overhead watering to discourage foliar disease. Use drip irrigation or a watering can instead.
- Apply a balanced organic fertilizer once in early spring and again in midsummer.
- Work the fertilizer lightly into the top inch of soil to make it accessible to the roots.
- Liquid seaweed fertilizer every month or two provides micronutrients for optimal thyme health.
- Trim back any excessively long stems once a year to encourage thick growth. Do this in early spring.
- Pruning is also useful to shape the thyme around stepping stones or garden accents.
- Remove any dead or diseased growth as needed to keep the planting looking fresh.
With proper occasional pruning, the thyme will maintain its trailing and spreading form between the pavers.
Alternative Groundcover Plants for Pavers
While creeping thyme is an excellent choice, other plants can also provide ornamental appeal between pavers or stepping stones. Consider these alternatives:
- Irish Moss – Forms a dense, mossy green carpet between pavers. Tolerates some foot traffic.
- Dwarf Chamomile – Releases a pleasant, apple-like scent when walked on. Grows only 2-4 inches tall.
- Woodland Strawberry – Produces sweet wild strawberries in summer. Needs more water than thyme.
- Dwarf Mondo Grass – Adds fine, grassy texture. Grows very slowly. Prefers partial shade.
- Sweet Alyssum – Dainty white or purple flowers; needs good drainage. Reseeds freely.
Mix and match plants with creeping thyme to create visual interest. Be sure any alternatives have similar cultural needs.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Creeping Thyme
Planting and caring for creeping thyme is mostly straightforward, but here are some common mistakes to be aware of:
- Overwatering – Too much moisture can cause root rot. Allow soil to partially dry out between waterings.
- Not preparing soil – Amending with compost before planting provides nutrients for better establishment.
- Planting too densely – Leave 8-12 inches between plants so they have room to spread out.
- Letting weeds take over – Stay on top of weeding to prevent weeds from crowding out the thyme.
- Poor drainage – Improve drainage before planting by adding gravel, sand or organic matter to the soil.
- Too much foot traffic – Avoid walking on newly planted thyme for about 2 weeks after planting.
With proper soil prep, spacing, watering and weed control, you can avoid common pitfalls and grow a thriving patch of creeping thyme.
Frequently Asked Questions about Creeping Thyme Between Pavers
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about planting and caring for creeping thyme in paver joints:
Can creeping thyme tolerate moderate foot traffic?
Yes, creeping thyme is quite hardy and can tolerate moderate foot traffic once established. Avoid excessive trampling which can damage the plants.
How much sun does creeping thyme require?
Creeping thyme does best in full sun – at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. It can tolerate partial shade but may not flower as well.
What type of soil does creeping thyme prefer?
Well-draining soil with added organic matter is ideal. Loamy, sandy or gravelly soil amended with compost provides good growing conditions.
How often should creeping thyme be watered between pavers?
Generally once per week in warm weather if rainfall is less than 1 inch. Water when the soil dries out to a depth of 1-2 inches.
Should I use fertilizer for creeping thyme between pavers?
Applying a balanced organic fertilizer once or twice a year is beneficial. Liquid seaweed also provides micronutrients. Avoid over-fertilizing.
How often does creeping thyme need to be pruned back?
Pruning once a year in early spring is sufficient to shape the thyme and encourage dense regrowth. Trim any overgrown stems as needed.
Will creeping thyme grow back each year between pavers?
Yes, creeping thyme is a hardy perennial that will return reliably each spring as long as it doesn’t experience winter dieback from extreme cold.
Final Thoughts on Planting Creeping Thyme Between Pavers
With its trailing stems and ornamental flowers, creeping thyme makes an excellent groundcover plant for the spaces between pavers. Mindful preparation, planting and follow-up care will keep your creeping thyme thriving for years of enjoyment. Before you know it, you’ll have an elegant, aromatic carpet of thyme filling in between your pathway or patio pavers. The beauty and simplicity of this hardy herb will have your neighbors inspired to try it for their own landscapes and hardscapes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Companion Plants for Creeping Thyme
Consider combining creeping thyme with other petite groundcovers like Irish moss, sweet alyssum, or chamomile. Choose companion plants with similar sunlight and watering needs.
Controlling Weeds Between Pavers
Use landscape edging or pre-emergent herbicide when planting to discourage weed seeds from sprouting. Hand pull weeds regularly before they become established. Spot treat with white vinegar.
Winter Care for Creeping Thyme
Apply a winter mulch over creeping thyme after first frost. Prune any dead growth in early spring. Avoid walking on frozen or frosty thyme foliage which can damage plants.
Propagating Creeping Thyme
Take 4-6 inch cuttings from established plants in spring or fall. Remove lower leaves and plant in potting mix. Keep cuttings moist until roots form.
Controlling Pests on Creeping Thyme
Common pests like aphids, spider mites, or thrips can be controlled with organic insecticidal soap, neem oil, or introduced beneficial insects. Avoid chemical pesticides.
- The Balanced Diet for Squirrels: What to Feed Squirrels in the Backyard - November 25, 2023
- Effective Methods for Weed Control in Gardens: Using Vinegar, Salt, Coffee Grounds, and Cornmeal - November 25, 2023
- Tiller vs Cultivator: Understanding the Key Differences - November 25, 2023