My advice for starting an aromatic herb garden in large or small spaces


Creating an herb garden can be a wonderful way to improve your well-being. When you grow your own herbs at home, you can enjoy all of their culinary and medicinal uses and reap the benefits they can bring while growing in the garden.

But herb gardens come in so many shapes and forms. It can often be difficult to decide exactly how and where to grow your herbs. As a garden designer, I work with people to develop sustainable plans that are right for them and their gardens, whether large or small. Here are some herb garden ideas you might want to consider:

Vertical herb gardens

Herb gardens can be grown in small spaces. Whether indoors or outdoors, you can have a collection of herbs in smaller pots or in a planter on a sunny windowsill. But vertical gardening solutions could allow you to grow more herbs, even in the smallest spaces.

Not all herbs will be suitable for growing in the small planting pockets of a vertical garden. But many common culinary herbs can be grown this way. So be sure to take both vertical and horizontal space into account when planning your herb garden.

Border of grass bed and margin planting

Another great thing to consider is that herbs can often be ideal for margin planting and for taking advantage of small border spaces. For example, grasses that like dry, sunny conditions can be perfect for a strip of foundation planting along the south side of your home (in the northern hemisphere). It could also be planted along the edges of a path, or even in the cracks of a path, leading to the kitchen door.

Drought tolerant grasses can also be perfect choices for a thin strip along the edge of a driveway or for the roof of a shed or other low structure in your garden.

Grass spirals

A dedicated herb garden can take many different forms. But an important thing to remember is that herbs can have very different growing requirements. Some thrive in full sun, others need a little shade – some like dry, draining conditions, others need more moisture.

When space is rather limited, or when you just want to grow as many different herbs as possible in a given area, it can be useful to think about how you can provide different conditions for different herbs, all in the same area. same bed.

Enter the herb spirals: A herb spiral is a special type of raised bed designed to allow you to grow a wide range of different herbs. This common idea of ​​permaculture is to create a bed in a clockwise spiral shape, higher in the middle and lower on the outside.

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Grass spirals can be made with a sturdy structure of stone, reclaimed brick, logs, or other materials. This structure can then be filled with layers of organic material.

Alternatively, more temporary herb spirals can be made as beds of huge crops, with a spiral shape created on top. These will sag over time.

However you do your herb spiral, the idea is that you can place drought-tolerant, deeper rooted plants at the top, sun-loving grasses on the south side, and grasses that prefer more humidity and some shade towards the north side.

Polyculture vegetable garden beds

Remember, you don’t necessarily have to separate the herbs in a separate herb garden. Herbs can be extremely beneficial as companion plants in vegetable beds in a home garden.

Annual grasses can easily be incorporated into the beds themselves, as companion plants under a crop rotation program. One of the most famous examples is the planting of basil next to tomatoes.

Perennial grasses that successfully overwinter where you live are best planted at the edge of a bed or in a border plantation to attract pollinators and control pests. Creating a border of herbs and perennial flowers around an area of ​​annual production can often be a great idea.

Incorporating herbs into forest garden designs

Many common culinary herbs love the sun. But there are also a lot of culinary and medicinal herbs that can endure or even prefer spotty or partial shade. Another way to think about creating an herb garden is to include herbs in the lower levels of a forest garden, under trees, shrubs, and other plantings.

Integrating planting to create vibrant and abundant ecosystems with high biodiversity can often be the best and most environmentally friendly way to garden.

So remember, when creating an herb garden, that you need to think about integration rather than segregation, and you can find some amazing options if you think outside the box.


Terri S. Tomasini