What Is a Yarrow Lawn and What to Consider Before Planting One?

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated February 11, 2022
 A close-up of a yarrow plant
Photo: skymoon13 / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Yarrow was traditionally used as a medicinal herb in cultures worldwide.

  • The yarrow plant attracts pollinators and wards off pesky weeds.

  • Yarrow is drought-resistant and low maintenance.

  • Yarrow is easy to plant and serves as excellent ground cover for arid or hot regions.

  • You can mow yarrow just like you would with grass.

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From unsightly crabgrass to yellow nutsedge, some weeds completely detract from your yard, making your curb appeal take a nosedive. But, while lawn weeds aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when someone says they love the appearance of their yard, yarrow weeds may just be the exception. Here’s everything you need to know about yarrow and what you should know before you plant yarrow in your lawn.

What Is a Yarrow Plant?

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a perennial plant closely related to chamomile. The plant can grow up to three feet, has leaves that resemble feathers, and blooms with small, aromatic flowers that are usually white but can also be pink, red, or light purple. You can find yarrow in sunny, warmer climates, where the flowers bloom from late spring to early autumn.

Benefits of the Yarrow Plant

While hikers and avid plant enthusiasts alike might enjoy yarrow’s beauty and sweet aroma, it’s more than just a pretty addition to your garden. 

Below are a few benefits of yarrow plants:

Yarrow May Have Medicinal Properties

The plant has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties throughout the world for thousands of years, particularly in Asia, Europe, and North America. Among its many uses, yarrow has been used for treating wounds, colds, burns, and more by many cultures.

Yarrow Attracts Pollinators

Many cultures may consider yarrow a medicinal plant, but it also attracts pollinators like butterflies and bees, making this already useful plant just that much more beneficial for the environment. Yarrow also grows quickly and may even be considered a weed to those who don’t want the plant to take over their yards. 

Yarrow Is Drought-Resistant

At a time when responsible water management is vital for conserving resources, yarrow is an ideal addition to yards where watering the lawn could mean depleting local water supplies. The plant tolerates sunny, arid climates, making it ideal for xeriscaping and low-maintenance landscaping.

Yarrow Helps Control Weeds

If controlling weeds in your garden is a continuous problem, yarrow can help curb weed growth. Since yarrow is a fast-growing and effective groundcover, it can help suppress unwanted weeds while adding a ferny, whimsical appearance to your yard.

What to Consider Before Planting Yarrow?

A woman picking yarrow plant from her yard
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

There are a few things to keep in mind before you get to planting yarrow in your yard. Here are five factors that could influence your decision to plant yarrow in your yard:

1. Make Sure the Climate Is Right

Not all climates are suited to yarrow. In some cases, you’ll find that yarrow struggles to grow. This is especially true for very humid climates or those with a lot of rainfall. Yarrow thrives in hot, dry regions and will mold and rot if the soil doesn’t have the proper irrigation. 

2. Factor in the Microclimate

Even if your climate is suitable for growing yarrow, the microclimate of your land can influence how well the plant grows on your lawn. For example, you could live in a warmer climate, but if your yard slopes towards the house and has lots of shade, the soil could stay too saturated for the yarrow to thrive. 

3. Know the Planting Season

Before you start sprinkling yarrow seeds all over your yard, be sure to factor in the best time to plant yarrow. Sow the seeds in late fall if you live in a warmer climate, and plant in the beginning of spring for colder climates. If you’re planting yarrow seedlings, you’ll want to do so after the last freeze. 

4. Pick the Right Planting Site

When it comes to your planting site, yarrow can get a little competitive with surrounding plants. Factor in yarrow’s compatibility with other plants in your garden or lawn. For the most part, yarrow won’t grow well under trees that provide too much shade. Other plants, like aster, butterfly weed, and lamb’s ear, might also struggle to receive adequate sunlight if planted too closely to yarrow. 

Since yarrow can grow up to three feet, only grow shade-loving plants nearby. Also, avoid planting a vegetable garden near yarrow, as yarrow attracts aphids, which can transmit viruses to these crops. 

5. Choose the Correct Species

There are a few different varieties of yarrow, and the cultivar you choose could play a role in how effective the plant is in your yard. 

The most common yarrow species that grows in yards is white yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which tends to grow whitish-pink flowers. New vintage rose yarrow, also an Achillea millefolium, has rosy, deep pink blooms and tolerates hotter climate zones with full sunlight. 

Gold yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) has bright yellow flowers but doesn’t do as well in more humid climates like southern Texas, Louisiana, and Florida compared to white yarrow, which can grow in that climate zone. 

There are many other cultivars, and some spread quickly across yards by reseeding and pushing out other plants in the yard, while others are sterile and incapable of spreading on their own.

How to Plant a Yarrow Lawn

You’ve chosen the best planting spot, selected the variety you want, and it’s planting season. Now it’s time to get digging! Planting yarrow in your lawn is a simple process that any dedicated gardener can take on as a fun project. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Clear out any existing grass or plants from the planting site (and consider composting it)

  • Using a shovel or till, loosen soil 3–5 inches deep

  • Mix in 2–4 inches of compost and water it

  • Plant yarrow seedlings 1–2 feet apart and water

  • Add a thin layer of organic mulch on top to protect the plants 

Once you plant yarrow in your yard, you’ll find that the plant quickly spreads and becomes distributed across the ground. 

You can decide whether you want to trim or mow the yarrow as it grows, leave it alone, or stake longer yarrow plants to prevent them from falling over. Cutting any faded, deadhead flowers towards the end of the summer helps encourage the plant to grow more flowers.

Hiring a Landscaper

Not everyone has a green thumb, and that’s where the pros come in to save the day! A landscaper near you knows the specifics of the area, which plants will do best, and how to strategically design your landscape in a way that gives your lawn the best chance of thriving.

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