Herb Garden Design 

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Herb Garden Design is a huge topic - there are so many different ways to grow herbs. 

I'm going to give you some general advice about choosing your herbs, which herbs don't 'play nice' with others and need some form of containment and show you some lovely photos which will spark off ideas as to how to design your herb garden.

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Choosing herbs for your herb garden design

collage of herb garden photos

It's as basic as, write a list of the herbs you want to grow whether that's for cooking and medicinal use or to attract bees and other pollinators. 

Once you've got that list, check out this page for growing advice and tips - most herbs like some sunshine and warmth, some are evergreen, some perennial  and some annual.  Some will grow in cold climates, others will need treating with a little more care, maybe moving indoors for the winter. 

Ideally, some evergreen and perennial herbs will provide your framework (sage, rosemary, thyme (evergreen) chives, mint (perennial) and then some annuals like parsley and basil (parsley is actually biennial but we use it as an annual) will fill in the gaps.  It will all depend on your list. 

There is no 'best' number of herbs, it's just what you will use or would like to see growing in your garden. 

When choosing where to grow your herbs, have in mind that it's most handy to have them near the kitchen - if it's wet and cold you don't want to be traipsing to the bottom of your garden to get a handful for cooking. 

I like some lavender bushes, for the smell (I love to make lavender sachets to scent my wardrobes) and to attract bees - I wouldn't necessarily grow them in my herb garden though and you don't have to have all your herbs in one place. There's some lovely ideas here that will hopefully spark off some thoughts of how you can grow your own herbs.

If you haven't got much space, maybe, a deck, patio or balcony, then there's ideas here for you too. 

Basic Herb Garden Design

herb garden wheel design

This very basic herb wheel gives you room to grow seven different herbs. These are my 'essential' herbs for culinary and medicinal use. I would add in chamomile now as I drink this as tea every day. There is a fuller explanation here. Put your mint in the middle and contain it - best is to use a large pot which you can sink into the ground and pull it up every so often to prevent the runners shooting out all over the garden - mint is a plant that 'doesn't play well with others' ;-) look at the photo below of mint shooting up between my patio slabs! The main plant was about 10 feet away.

Mark out your herb garden design with sand and then plant your herbs in whichever order you like. 

A 'wheel' is a very popular herb garden design - some people even use an actual cartwheel! 

mint growing through paving slabs

herb garden spiral design

This gorgeous spiral would make a fabulous herb garden design. It's pretty self explanatory - you can see from the photo you start off with stones around the outside and build the spiral round, filling it with soil  as you go. 

I would throw some home made compost into the bottom of the planting area. You can tip in vegetable peelings, grass  mowings etc if you don't have any compost ready, it will rot down once it's covered with soil and have the same effect. 

herb garden spiral full of herbs

Here's a herb spiral made out of bricks - it looks quite effective I think and would make an excellent feature in your garden. 

Don't make it too wide as you'll have problems tending the central herbs - you'll tread on the outer ones as you're reaching across. 

Herb Garden Design for larger areas

herbs growing in open ground

This is a larger herb garden. You can see there are several parsley plants plus a large clump of mint, also sage, thyme, oregano, bay and rosemary. 

A planting like this would be useful if you want to use a lot of a particular herb. I plant several chamomile plants as I harvest it for drying to use in tea. Parsley is lovely in season chopped into sauces for fish or gammon. 

All those herbs could be dried for winter use

They would be very useful planted next door to your fruit and/or vegetable garden as the herbs will attract pollinators. 

herbs growing in raised beds

The raised bed method of growing is very popular. You can reach all your plants from the side and the soil is easy to top up with nutrients when needed. 

There is some mixed planting in this garden. Vegetables are close, which takes advantage of the herbs natural attraction to bees and other pollinators. There's also some Tagates on the right which will attract the Blackfly so they're less likely to suck the life out of the runner beans. A great organic method of controlling pests. 

If you have a problem with pests, then try the garlic and mint bug spray which I've written about here - there's a short video showing you how to make it. It is *extremely* effective at controlling aphids. 

Herb Garden Design with containers 

herbs growing in balcony boxes

To the other extreme, if you have only a balcony then window boxes are ideal. They look very decorative as well as being a good way of growing herbs and being able to harvest them easily. 

You'll need to make sure that you have adequate water supply for them - they can dry out quickly in the hotter weather. I've linked to some self watering spikes below, which might be a good idea for your window boxes too. 

selection of herbs growing in pots displayed on a table

This group of larger pots is perfect for the patio or deck, you can still have a herb garden even if that's the only outdoor space you have. 

Make sure they are watered regularly in the hotter weather. If you're going on holiday, you could move them indoors or into a very shady place and use some self watering spikes. There is a huge selection at Amazon - I like to use Amazon as I can easily compare prices and quality from many different suppliers. Use the link below and enter 'self watering spikes' in the search box to see the huge range, from simple ones to pretty glass ones. 

I particularly like these. They're a good price, there are 12 in the pack and you can control the rate at which the water comes out. You will need to save 12 bottles to use with them. You can either drink 12 bottles of wine (hic!) or recycle some plastic bottles. 

selection of herbs and plants growing in a wooden wheelbarrow

I love using different things to make features in my garden. You could use an old wooden wheelbarrow or even an old metal one. 

This is such an interesting old piece of equipment which has been given new life. 

Line the bottom with some pond liner or similar and then make a few holes in it. Put some broken crocks or a couple of inches of gravel in the bottom, just like you would if you were planting into pots to make sure the water can flow freely and the plants don't have wet feet. 

Use good quality garden soil and you'll need to add some extra nutrients every year as they will leech out. 

Miraclegro is a well respected name. Use this a couple of times a year on all your herbs. You'll be rewarded with lush growth, but I consider it an essential for herbs grown in containers. 

herbs growing on a ladder display

Another lovely herb garden design using an old set of display shelves. You could use a small step ladder instead, putting pots on the steps. 

There really is no limit to the things you can repurpose to grow herbs in. 

The same cautions about growing herbs in pots - look after the watering and nutrients or they will die. 

herbs in pots displayed in a trug on a table

Whilst this is a very pretty arrangement, as a herb garden design, it's not suitable for long term use. The pots are too small for the herbs to grow well. The larger herbs will quickly become pot bound and will probably die.  It's very 'arty' and not very practical but would be fine if you were to be entertaining people and wanted a nice table display in your garden for a little while. 

Move them into larger pots or into garden soil as soon as you see roots coming through the hole in the bottom of the plant pot. 

herbs in pots growing on stone steps

This is such a lovely idea, to use the steps leading down to your garden to display herbs. 

The same cautions as other containers:

  • use automatic watering systems if you're going away, 
  • move them into the shade so they don't lose more water than necessary
  • use liquid fertiliser a couple of times a year to replace the nutrients in the soil
  • pot on as soon as you see roots appearing through the hole in the bottom of the pot

If you only have a tiny outside area, you can still grow herbs - there is a herb garden design for you.

herbs in containers on a table

This is stunning. I think the herb pots look fabulous on the bright blue table - this herb garden design looks very Mediterranean, which of course, some of the herbs are! 

You can see the pots are quite large and that's a good thing. Keep potting on as the plants outgrow their smaller pots and you should be able to keep your herbs growing in pots for years. 

pots of flowering herbs on a patio with table and chairs

Can you just imagine sitting amongst that lavender on a warm summer evening, sipping your cocktails.

I love this - it shows how pots of herbs can be used to great design effect. 

I will issue a word of caution. Remember that lavender is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. If you're the sort of people that can't stand bees buzzing round you, then you'll need to plant your bee friendly plants further away from your sitting area. 

There's a list here of which are the most bee friendly herbs so possibly the ones you should avoid planting next to where you sit. 

Herb garden design is such a vast subject - I hope you've got some inspiration from the examples I've shown you. 

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