Herb Garden Design Ideas

Explore what you need to design healthy, prolific and eye-catching herb gardens



Spice up your menus with the zingy flavors of fresh herbs. You don’t need an elaborate herb garden design to work flavorful sprigs and leaves into your family’s mealtimes. Many herbs thrive—and yield stems for snipping—in containers. But if you yearn for a formal herb garden design, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll have beauty and harvest to share. Dig into some herb garden design ideas.

These zesty, versatile plants hold their own in a formal herb garden design or blend happily in existing planting areas. As you consider how much space you want to devote to herbs, think realistically about how you’ll use them. If you’re just looking for a few basil leaves to toss onto pizza or fresh lemon balm to flavor lemonade, explore modest herb garden design ideas, including growing herbs in containers.

On the other hand, if you intend to mix homemade herb blends for shower favors or holiday gifts or long to create your own herb wreath, you’re going to need an herb garden design that accommodates multiple plants. The same is true if you frequently use herbs for bouquet garnish or as the base flavor for beverages, or add fresh herbs to marinades and hot grill coals.

Herb plants do yield a surprisingly large amount. For typical culinary purposes, a single rosemary, oregano or tarragon plant should suffice. But if you plan to dry oregano, you might need two plants (more, if you plan to give it away). If you hope to freeze a year’s worth of basil pesto, you’ll need probably 10 to 12 plants.

As you consider which plants to work into your herb garden design, one way to narrow the field is to think about your cooking. If you’re whipping up plenty of pizza and pasta, include oregano, basil, chives, thyme and sage. For kids who love tacos, raise cilantro, oregano, parsley, mint and marjoram. To serve refreshing herbal tea blends, plant chamomile, lemon balm, pineapple sage and mint.

When creating your herb garden design, start with soil. Most herbs prefer well-drained soil, and if you can’t deliver this by amending existing soil, plan to use a raised bed garden design. Herbs love raised beds, and you can customize the soil you add to suit the herbs you want to grow. Do your homework on this one, because different herbs need different soil types.

Mediterranean herbs—including lavender, thyme and rosemary—prefer sharply draining, alkaline soils. Basil and mints thrive with richer soil and ample moisture. Many gardeners tuck mints near hose or downspout outlets so it can take advantage of the available water.

As you think about arranging herbs in your garden design, remember basic garden design principles: tall plants in back, short plants along bed edges. Some of the taller herbs include fennel, dill, certain rosemary varieties and tarragon. Chives, mints and lavenders tend to fall into the mid-range height category. For shorter herbs, look to oregano, thyme and parsley.

Group plants together that have the same growing needs, which means you shouldn’t be pairing mint with lavender, which dislikes overly moist soil. Herbs like oregano, rosemary, lavender, cilantro, fennel, and dill thrive in full sun. Mints, chives, parsley and sage can handle dappled shade.

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