Alternatives to Grass for Lawns
Thyme – standard English and French thyme are little bushes so would not be good as a lawn, but lime thyme, Dutch tea thyme, spicy orange thyme and wild thyme would work well. All these thymes grow low to the ground and spread outward all around making a creeping mat that is 2-3 inches tall. Thymes prefer well-drained lightly textured soils, but will grow quite well in less than desirable soil types and thrive from sun to light shade environments. Lime thyme has light lime colored leaves that give off a lime scent. Dutch tea thyme has glossy green leaves and is a good culinary herb. Makes a wonderful tea and can be used as a replacement for English or French thyme in cooking. Spicy orange thyme has small dark green leaves and gives off an orange scent. Wild thyme or Mother of Thyme or creeping thyme forms a thick fragrant mat and has small purple flowers. All these thymes may be used for culinary purposes. Because they don’t get too tall, it’s possible to set your mower deck to mow over the top of them, thus preserving them (they don’t take well to trimming or cutting heavily).
Pennyroyal - This low growing member of the mint family has been used to keep fleas away and it also makes a terrific groundcover. It creates a dark green mat with stalks of interesting flowers. It can be mowed and walked on. Pennyroyal can be a very powerful herb (especially the oil), so pregnant women should avoid handling it and it should not be used on pregnant animals. Honeybees love the flowers and it provides an excellent source of forage for them.
As we look to making our lives a little more simple with more time to do the things we want and with less impact on the environment, taking a good hard look at that grassy lawn might be one place to begin.