Herbs are easy to grow, attractive and can be used in a wide variety of ways. Many gardeners grow herbs to use in the kitchen or for their fragrance. Other gardeners treasure herbs for their easy care and, in some cases, colorful flowers. After you’ve chosen the type and style of your garden, it is best to design your herb garden on paper before actually planting anything.
Analyze the existing conditions of your garden. Though most herbs prefer full sun, some will tolerate a bit of shade (these include lemon balm, mints, tarragon, and parsley). Herbs also prefer well drained soil. Become familiar with the herbs you’d like to plant in your garden and sure that they’re compatible with the existing conditions of your yard.
Draw inspiration for your design from surrounding gardens or architecture. For instance, a garden space adjacent to a formal patio is the ideal spot for a formal herb garden with an organized and geometric layout. Dwarf boxwood or well kept lavender are the perfect plants to define the edges of your garden or to create separate planting areas within the garden for different types of herbs. Enclosing your garden with a fence or wall will provide garden structure, privacy and help capture the herb’s fragrance. Stepping stones or paths through the garden will allow for easy access to the herbs for cutting and maintenance. The addition of a garden accent, such as a birdbath, adds a decorative touch.
Herb Garden Guidelines
An example of a formal design for an herb garden would be a square or circular garden divided into sections by criss-crossing paths. As with all gardens, keep in mind the plants’ textures, shapes, and colors. Incorporate a bench into the design or a garden structure such as an arbor or trellis. A vertical garden structure will provide a vertical element in the garden as well as a space to grow vines.
Informal herb gardens can have more of a cottage garden feel where a mix of herbs are planted in no distinct pattern. There are a few things to consider during your planning such as plant height, invasiveness, and growing compatibility between the various plants. Another way to include herbs in the landscape is to plant them within the flower garden or vegetable garden. Also, consider planting some herbs in container to place near your kitchen door for use in cooking or around the patio for their aesthetic and fragrant qualities. Mint is especially suited to the container garden as the can be invasive. Planting mint in pots is an effective way to contain it. Window boxes are also wonderful way to add herbs to your garden.
Tip: Plant your annual herbs and perennial herbs separately in the garden. Perennials return year after year while annuals complete their life cycle over the course of one growing season. Planting them in separate sections will provide your annuals with space to flourish during the season. And since perennials become larger each season, they prefer not to be crowded and require adequate space to grow.