What works for your garden?
You might like to create a potted herb garden, or you may like to incorporate herbs into your garden as a ground cover. If you’ve ever enjoyed a herb garden that covers the ground along a pathway, you know how much it can add to any outdoor space. The amazing scent as you brush past it, along with the added benefit of being able to use it to flavor cooking (taking advantage of surplus herbs in bulk cooking), are top reasons to choose herbs over other plants.
However, not every herb is suited for use as ground cover, and your location and soil will play a part in which herbs you choose as well. Also, your choice of herbs should include the colors you wish to introduce to the space, as ground cover herbs will put on a show while in full bloom! If you’re looking for ideas on what sort of garden path to plant around, Better Homes and Garden’s has some glorious garden path ideas.
If you’d like to transform your garden with the beautiful addition of herbs on your property, here are some of the best herbs to think about when picking what to plant as ground cover.
Examples of herbs as ground cover
Thyme is one of the most popular herbs for ground cover. There are several different varieties of thyme that provide excellent ground cover:
- Crimson Thyme – As the name suggests, this is a brightly-colored strain of thyme. While the plant is green, the flowers that bloom are a very strong magenta in color. Some like to use this herb sparingly when planting ground cover, as too much of it can be overwhelming.
- Lemon Thyme – With a beautiful citrus scent, lemon thyme is great along pathways. Try planting where your garden visitors are likely to brush past them, for example bordering garden stepping stones or steps. Lemon thyme releases a lovely fresh aroma and is also excellent in cooking or jazzing up beverages. For some seriously delicious treats take a look at My Darling Lemon Thyme’s recipe ideas.
- Mother-of-Thyme – This is a slightly taller type of thyme, reaching up to half a foot in height. This variety of thyme is available with flowers of white, lavender, pink, and magenta (although a weaker magenta than the one produced by crimson thyme).
- Wooly Thyme –Lavender/pink flowers on a grayish-green plant; chances are you’ve seen this herb in use by someone as ground cover, as it’s a very popular choice for its short growth (it stays close to the ground, maxing out at about an inch high) and its foliage, which is still beautiful even when not in bloom.
This herb can be trimmed like a hedge, giving you an excellent opportunity to shape it as it grows. Pink flowers bloom on this eight-inch tall herb, usually at the end of summer in July or August.
This herb has a strong scent that is sure to attract attention. The foliage hugs the ground, but when this herb gets ready to bloom the stalks of the flowers can rise to a foot in height. The ground cover is evergreen, with a fernlike, hairy appearance. Wooly yarrow stays attractive year-round, but you’ll need to prune the flower stalks after the blooms have gone away.
While you may have seen this in your spice rack, the ground-cover version of this herb is a different strain, Origanum vulgare, which has flavorless leaves. This herb is an expert at providing ground cover, though; in fact, once it’s fully established, you’ll have a hard time digging through it. The cover it provides is so dense that you can pick it up from the ground and peel it away like a mat. The flowers are pink and purple from this variety of oregano, and they sit atop stalks that are two feet tall.
Creeping St.-John’s Wort
Another different strain than the one you’re most likely familiar with, this variety of St.-John’s Wort has no medicinal value. It’s worth as ground cover comes from the large, yellow flowers it produces when blooming. At a height of less than half a foot, the foliage provides a nice cover for the ground where it grows.
This herb can reach heights of up to a foot, but the stems that trail along the ground provide excellent ground cover. The flowers are white, but once they’re gone quarter-inch red berries grow that last for months. One benefit to using this as a ground cover herb is the fact that it does have medicinal value. It’s been used for bladder and kidney treatment for years, which makes it both useful and beautiful.
There are many other varieties of herbs that make the excellent ground cover; you’re only limited by your climate and soil. Fine Gardening provides an overview of ornamental herbs as some more ideas on what to grow.