Have you ever considered the logic of having a lawn? The truth is, nature doesn’t do monocrops. Top that off with growing a grass that needs lots of water and isn’t native to your area? No wonder many lawn owners spend so much time, chemicals, water and resources maintaining their lawn. Personally, I’d rather have food and herbs growing all over my property.
I have to balance my desires with the fact that I live with two boys, a dog and a cat. They all love to romp around on the lawn, playing, running, and generally having some room to cavort.
To meet all of our needs, for the last several years, I have been cultivating an herbal lawn. It may sound complex, but it is actually much easier than growing a regular lawn. Now is the perfect time to start!
Every year in the late summer, I have herbs in my garden that go to seed. The weedier the better, I sprinkle them throughout my lawn and by the following year I have small plants sprouting and growing. Although grass roots are dense and matted, these “weedy herbs” do a good job establishing themselves.
There are many benefits to growing an herbal lawn. I have extra room to grow more herbs. My lawn supports the health and diversity of my garden, yard and local ecosystem. The amazing diversity in my lawn supports my beehives, local insects, birds, squirrels and other wildlife. My herbal lawn does well with less water and no chemicals. I enjoy wandering out into the lawn to graze on a few edible “weeds” or pick some to add to our salads, eggs or other dishes.
I love to watch the lawn evolve over time. I marvel at how the herbs learn to adapt to mowing, blooming with very short stems. Yarrow is a great example of this, blooming with white flowers clustering on tiny stems. It is such a joy to walk on: soft and aromatic.
Some herbs I have found to grow easily in a lawn include violet, dandelion, chickweed, garden mallow, self heal, plantain, yarrow, clover (white, yellow and red), Roman chamomile, oxeye daisy, purslane, pineapple weed, several species of mint, lamb’s quarters, couchgrass, cleavers, oregano, shepherd’s purse, mullein, catnip, wood sorrel, English daisy, wild lettuce, some asters, and pussytoes.
I’d love to know which herbs you have growing in your lawn!
© Elaine Sheff, Clinical Herbalist 2017
About the Author:
The author of several books on herbal medicine and healing, clinical herbalist Elaine Sheff has been passionate about sharing herbal knowledge for over 25 years. Her latest book is Naked: Botanical Recipes for Vibrant Skin and Healthy Hair. Elaine is the Co-Director of Green Path Herb School, located in Missoula, MT, where she strives to inspire and empower students and clients to remember their connection to the earth, the plants and their own healing process. She has taught both nationally and internationally at conferences and events. Elaine is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild. As a certified Instructor of the Natural Family Planning and Fertility Awareness Methods, Elaine has helped many couples to avoid or achieve pregnancy naturally. An artist and writer, Elaine has written numerous articles about her family’s journey with epilepsy and a special needs child. She has written for publications including the Journal of Medicinal Plants and their Applications, Mamalode and Aromaculture magazine. Elaine’s workshops have been featured at conferences including the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, Montana Herb Gathering, Northwest Herb Symposium, Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference, Spokane Herbal Faire, the Ecoexpo, Mountain West Herb Gathering, Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence, and the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference. You can often find her bent over an herb in her garden or marveling at small flowers in mountain meadows with her husband and sons. If you’d like to learn more about medicinal plants, you can connect with Elaine, and Green Path Herb School via the Green Path Website or through social media: Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram. You can find out more about Elaine and her life work at GreenPathHerbSchool.com.