Creating a Parterre

Parterres are ornamental flower, herb or vegetable beds edged by low, tightly clipped evergreen hedges. This herb parterre is ideal outside a kitchen window.
Herb Parterre

Herb Parterre

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - Herbs

Tip for Success

Pinch out the growing tips of the edging plants to produce a compact, bushy hedge. Once established, they can be trimmed three times during the summer to keep them tidy.

Pinch Out Growing Tips During Summer

Pinch Out Growing Tips During Summer

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 1

Clear the site of weeds and then dig in plenty of compost and crushed stone to improve the drainage of the soil. Many herbs originate from Mediterranean-type climates and therefore thrive in such well-drained, dry conditions.

Prepare Compost for an Herb Garden

Prepare Compost for an Herb Garden

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 2

When the soil is dry and workable, rake the soil level and remove any large stones or roots of previous plants that might still be in the soil. The best tool for doing this job is a large-headed, stainless steel landscape rake.

Clear Out a Soil Bed

Clear Out a Soil Bed

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 3

Tread over the freshly cultivated soil in both directions to firm it and remove any air pockets. Keep your feet close together and firmly press your heels down into the ground. Gently rake over the soil again afterward.

Tread Over Soil to Firm and Remove Air Pockets

Tread Over Soil to Firm and Remove Air Pockets

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 4

Place landscape fabric over the area to be planted. Dig the edges of the material into the soil to help hold it in place. The fabric will reduce the amount of watering and weeding needed later in the year.

Reduce Weeding With Landscaping Fabric

Reduce Weeding With Landscaping Fabric

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 5

Measure and mark out the pattern of the hedging with chalk to draw on the landscape fabric and pegs. Keep the pattern simple when designing for a small space, since too much intricacy will look messy and is hard to maintain.

Mark Out Pattern on Fabric for Hedging Design

Mark Out Pattern on Fabric for Hedging Design

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 6

With a sharp knife, cut slits into the landscape fabric approximately 8 inches apart where the hedging plants are to go. Using a trowel or just your fingers, make planting holes in the soil and firm in the hedging plants.

Planting With Landscaping Material

Planting With Landscaping Material

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 7

Work around the pattern until all the hedging is planted. The shrubs in this pattern are box (Buxus sempervirens), but other suitable plants include Lavandula angustifolia and Teucrium x lucidrys.

Hedging Pattern

Hedging Pattern

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 8

Arrange the herbs in their pots until you are happy with the design. Larger plants, like this bay tree in a terracotta pot, can be used to create a focal point. Cut the fabric and plant each herb carefully, as in Step 6.

Design Plan for Herb Garden

Design Plan for Herb Garden

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 9

Carefully check over the herbs and prune out dead growth or shoots and branches that may have been damaged during planting. Brush away any soil or leaves that have fallen onto the fabric and water all the plants in well.

Clean Weed-Suppression Fabric

Clean Weed-Suppression Fabric

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 10

Place slate chippings over the surface of the fabric. This gives the parterre an attractive finish and hides the cuts that were made for planting. Other mulching materials can be used instead of slate, such as gravel.

Use Slate or Gravel for Landscaping Mulch

Use Slate or Gravel for Landscaping Mulch

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Next Up

Informal Plants

Well-tended box hedges can seem very precise and formal, but the rigid lines can be softened to create an image of structured relaxation. Allowing the plant to grow bushier enables some experimentation in topiary or clipping to shape.

Garden Design: Connect Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Let your indoor space inspire your landscape design plans.

Define Your Outdoor Space With a Garden Fence

Discover the materials and design that will work best for your garden boundary, whether it is a fence, wall or hedge.

Edging Around Raised Beds

Raised beds are a great way to separate your garden from your lawn. To make mowing around them easier, an edge made of spare brick provides a visually appealing border.

Making an Herb Path Through a Wildflower Meadow

Many herbs withstand the odd footstep and thrive in the warmth reflected from pavers. Plant creeping thymes for the best effect; they will soon blur the sharp edges of the paving.

Making a Lavender Hedge

Attractive to look at and much loved by bees and butterflies, these aromatic features are easy to grow, requiring no feeding and little maintenance beyond an annual clip as the flowers begin to fade.

Creating a Standard Bay Tree

Topiarized evergreen herbs can be very expensive to buy, but large specimens do take many years of careful pruning. The techniques involved are simple, however, so try this at home and enjoy spectacular results.

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Get tips on how to easily and inexpensively grow herbs from seed.

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