I have a paving stone walkway in full sun. Currently, there is gravel between the stones and I want to replace it with plants. Which ones would creep along a little, but not too much, be very low, and be able to take a little foot traffic? Also, any planting tips?
When searching for the perfect groundcover that does well in full sun, is low-growing and can stand some foot traffic, our choices are, unfortunately, extremely limited. Many sun groundcovers are low-growing, like certain varieties of Sedum or Ajuga, but they are not tolerant of foot traffic. Then, there is lilyturf (Liriope spicata). It does well in sun or shade and is content with being trampled on, but it grows to 12 inches — too tall to plant between stepping stones.
The happy medium? Thyme! This wonderful, perennial herb loves full sun, is low-growing and can take a moderate amount of foot traffic. In addition, as an added bonus, thyme emits its well-known, delicious fragrance and stepping on the plant only stirs up more of the luscious scent.
Any of the thyme varieties will perform wonderfully for this situation, creeping along slowly but surely. Lemon thyme, red thyme, woolly thyme and many more varieties offer a diverse range of foliage colors and textures, not to mention interesting variations of aromas. Don’t forget to pick a few stems for your homemade spaghetti sauce too!
When planting thyme, choose a well-drained, full-sun location. Believe it or not, thyme does its best in poor soil. Very little maintenance is necessary to be successful with it. Try not to wet the leaves when watering as this deadens their wonderful fragrance and be sure to mulch in the winter to protect the plant from heavy frosts.