Small spring flowers
Alternative lawns and ground covers are becoming increasingly popular as more people are interested in urban gardening and getting the most use out of their lawn space. If planting a full garden seems like too much work and you’re looking for a practical alternative to traditional flowers, laying a chamomile lawn may be an option.
Benefits of Having a Chamomile Lawn
Because sod and grass is the norm in most places, it’s normal to be skeptical about using herbs like chamomile as ground covers. However, chamomile offers several benefits for your lawn.
- Less maintenance. If you live in a moderate climate with adequate amounts of rain and sun, you’re likely used to mowing the grass at least a couple of times a week. A standard city lot may only take an hour or so to mow with a push mower, but if you have a large yard, you may be spending several hours a week just on lawn maintenance. Chamomile does not grow high like grass, meaning you won’t have to mow at all anywhere you use it as a ground cover.
- Fragrant. One of the main characteristics of herbs is their smells. Even if you’re not familiar with what an herb looks like, running your hands over the leaves and then taking a whiff can help you identify it by fragrance alone. Chamomile gives off a light scent that doesn’t overpower more fragrant flowers nearby but adds more dimension than plain grass.
- Easy access to fresh herbs. Drying your own chamomile for tea or other medicinal purposes becomes much easier when all you have to do is step outside your front door and pluck a few flower heads.
How to Plant a Chamomile Lawn
Chamomile can be a delicate plant, and it requires the proper conditions to grow and thrive. To get the best results out of your chamomile lawn, follow these steps:
- Assess your lawn. Chamomile needs full sun and well-draining soil. If you live in an area that has very dry soil or clay, try a raised bed filled with a sandy loam. It’s best to start fairly small, as chamomile can be pricey, and you don’t want to lose an entire crop if you end up guessing wrong on how much sun you have. Try a few square feet to begin with and expand as your plants mature.
- Prepare the area. Taking the preliminary step of weeding well helps keep weeding to a minimum later on and ensures your plants aren’t competing with weeds for nutrients. Depending on your lawn, it may take two to three weeding sessions spaced a couple of weeks apart to get all of the weeds, including those that may be dormant at the first session.
- Plant the chamomile. Use mature plants and runners if possible. Potted chamomile can be divided and planted in the lawn as well. Space plants approximately 4 to 8 inches apart, depending on how much you want to spend upfront and how long you’re willing to wait for a cover. Close spacing requires more plants, and therefore higher upfront costs, but will yield a thick cover more quickly than sparsely placed plants.
- Protect your plants. Chamomile takes relatively little maintenance but will do better with an application of fertilizer in the spring and light trimming throughout the summer to remove dead flower heads.
Once your chamomile lawn is in place, it’s important to make sure the area stays free of foot traffic, which can damage plants. It’s also a good idea to weed by hand, as some weed killers also kill chamomile. Weed in frequent, short sessions to keep up with new growth.