Can You Replace Your Grass with Red Creeping Thyme?

Arguments in favor of the practice claim it is a better-for-the-planet alternative.

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Image via Screengrab/Reddit

Claim

Replacing your traditional lawn with red creeping thyme is an environmentally safe alternative.

Origin

For those seeking a traditional lawn alternative, a Reddit post published on June 20, 2021, recommended planting red creeping thyme to serve as an environmentally sustainable and biodiversity-boosting substitute.

Screengrab/Reddit

The post claims that the herb grows 3 inches tall (true), requires no mowing (true), is edible and puts off a “lovely lemony scent” (true, but some describe it as “minty” and this varies by season and habitat), can repel mosquitoes (true), is better for local biodiversity (true), and grows year-round (true, though this depends on where you are located). At the time of this writing, it had received more than 108,000 upvotes.

Not to be confused with common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) that one might find in their herb cabinet, red creeping thyme — scientifically known as Thymus serpyllum — is endemic to northern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. And because all of the claims made in the Reddit post are accurate, we rate this claim as “True” (though we can’t tell someone that they should or shouldn’t do something.) With deep pink and purple flowers, this low-maintenance evergreen shrub blooms from June to September in the U.S. and is suggested by the Missouri Botanical Garden primarily as an ornamental ground cover.

It’s also a thyme by many names, like” mother of thyme” and “wild thyme,” and is equally as malleable. T. serpyllum is ideal for sunny areas, as a lawn substitute, filling in crevices, or anywhere that gets full sun and dry to medium soil. Measuring up to 3 inches tall and up to 12 inches wide, the tiny, tubular bell-shaped blooms are drought tolerant and attract butterflies and bees.

“Creeping Thyme would make a wonderful addition to a home garden. It provides groundcover for borders, patios, and pathways. The plant will fill in crevices of steppingstones or sprawl over rocks,” wrote the North Carolina State Extension.