Herb Garden Design

January 28, 2010

herbgardenflowersIf you want to know where to start in planning your herb garden, the first step is to identify your overall aim for your herb garden and to write your wish list of herbs with the help of herb books or herb seed and plant catalogues or inspiration from herb gardens that you have visited. On an older blog post you can see a list of herb seed suppliers many of whom have catalogues  and there are a few more on my useful links page here.

Where do you start? Well, it has to be….with you; what do you want? To help you find out, you will need to answer the following questions:

1. Which herbs do you currently use or would you like to use?
Do you want herbs for fragrance, decoration, crafts, culinary or medicinal use? If you’re not sure, you could start by outlining the types of herbs you’d like e.g. evergreen, annuals, perennials, tall/medium/low growing, or choose a theme for some inspiration. Possible themes include lemon-scented herbs, edible herb flower plants, scented garden, herb tea, medicinal, sensory, herbs to attract bees and butterflies, herbs by flower colour and so on.

If you choose herbs that will be happy in your soil type and position in your garden, you are more likely to succeed. At this stage you can write down your wish list of herb plants which you may need to whittle down later on depending on the space you have available because herbs will need plenty of light and space to avoid growing too tall and spindly due to competition from each other.

2. What would you like to use your garden for?
Is it to sit and relax in (if yes, put some seating on your wish list)? Entertain? For children to play in (in this case be careful to avoid or place out of easy reach any poisonous herbs)? Potter around in? Vegetable growing (consider herb companion planting)? Will there be any pets in the garden which may affect the herbs grown or positioning of them? eg catnip!

3. Do you prefer flowers/large plants/shrubs/lots of colour/textures?

4. Do you want a separate area or to mix herbs with vegetables? Mix herbs into existing borders? Have plants only in containers or all three?

5. How much space do you want to allocate to herbs/how many containers do you want/how many can you fit in (including window boxes, hanging baskets and pots)? Will herbs be grown indoors or outdoors?

6. You also need to consider how much time you want to spend maintaining the garden and how much money you want to spend on it. Do you want it to be low maintenance? Will you buy in plants or grow your own? Do your ideas involve changing or adding any hard landscaping? Make a note of this as well.

Other points to note:

A formal garden will need regular maintenance in retaining the shapes of your design and keeping hedging trimmed.

Annual herbs will need replacing each year – either bought in or sown from seed in the spring.

Frost tender plants will need a place where they can be brought in for the winter.

It is very likely that your aim will be a combination of these and other factors.

Step one is therefore to answer the questions above to determine your overall aim and to decide how much work and money you want to put in.

Copyright 2009-2011 Madeleine Giddens All worldwide rights reserved.

This article is based on an extract from chapter 1 of my e-book Your Dream Garden in 7 Easy Steps.

Shameless promotion: The rest of this step is detailed in my e-book Your Dream Herb Garden In 7 Easy Steps which is currently at the bargain price of £9.95. To read more about this book including testimonials and details of bonuses available, please click the link above.

It’s a great time to start planning your herb garden and make sure you have the seeds you need.

I’d love to hear which herbs you plan to have/sow this year, just leave a comment below, you might just inspire someone with your choices!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth 01.28.10 at 12:38 pm

Hi Madeleine, good food for thought in this post! I planted a herb garden for my mum last year, focussing on herbs she can use for cooking and for teas, plus a couple for chesty conditions which she tends towards (which I plan to harvest and make into potions for her!). Its small and low maintenance. I’m looking forward to seeing it emerging from winter. Best wishes, Elizabeth

2 Nina 12.27.11 at 9:54 am

Hi Madeleine,

I am intrigued about herb gardens and your article is great because it is so simple. I am planning a herb garden but because of work I haven’t started on it. As helpful as this article is, I was hoping for some specific tips about planting herbs, as well as some suggestions for the overall design of the garden. It would be really helpful for people like me when there are some specific tips to start a garden. Anyway, great job! Nina

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