How To Design A Herb Garden
Without Spending A Lot Of Money

Many people don't know how to design a herb garden, but it's not difficult. You don't have to be an artist or a designer in most cases, although there are a few special circumstances listed below where you may want to get some help.

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How to design a herb garden

Let's imagine you have a cute pink and white cottage with a tiny front yard and a white picket fence. Right now the yard is all grass, but you want to design a herb garden instead.

1) Start by measuring the area you want to use for your herb garden.

I'm just making this up as an example -- it's not a real house or yard.

Draw a map of your yard, and put the measurements in.

It doesn't have to be exact, but you should have some idea of where the major parts of the yard are, such as the paths, steps, windows, doors, and gates, and how much room you have to work with.

2) Sketch the pattern you want, filling in notes on colors you'd like, placement of large shrubs and garden accessories.

I just made this up, thinking about what might look good with a pink and white house with a white picket fence.

If you'd like to do a particular theme for your herb garden (such as a cottage garden or an all blue garden) this is where you decide that.

This does not have to be perfect. You do not have to be "artistic". This is not the Mona Lisa.

If you're the one doing the garden, you may be the only one who sees it.

But if you write down what you want, from the plants to the colors to the placement, you'll instantly be able to see what works and what doesn't.

Now you might need to substitute plants, for example if your yard is somewhere that rains constantly then lavender might not do well there.

But if you know you want a pinkish purple border, then you can find other herbs with that flower color to substitute, such as chives, for example.

3) Make sure you plan access to every part of the garden through the use of paths, walkways, or paving tiles, so you can harvest your herbs.

I put a bunch of stepping stones in there, but you could use paths, walkways, a maze, or whatever you like.

I made the rows of stepping stones straight across, but they can be wavy, curved, or whatever suits you.

Think about the kind of materials you want to use for these, and the colors you want these materials to be, so that they go with the rest of the garden.

Make notes on the map of your yard.

4) Most herbs are fairly drought-resistant, but you may want to think about how you will water your herb garden. Do you need to install irrigation, or will your hoses reach, or do you want to water by hand?

In small gardens with plenty of rainfall, watering by hand just long enough to get your plants established is all that's needed.

In the case of our example, you could run drip irrigation in front of your bay laurel hedge, or you could just water by hand in such a small space.

5) If you want to install walls, rock work, terracing, or a pond, this is the time to plan the placement of these also.

For some of you, figuring out what you want and how to make it work with what you already have are the hard parts when you begin to design a herb garden.

I made a workbook to help you do just that.

This workbook (which you download onto your computer and print out) will help you figure out what you and your family want, and teaches you the basics of landscape design.

This way, you can be sure that when you design a herb garden, it will look great!

Or if you would like to take my Tasteful Yard Design course, you can get personalized help with your edible yard from start to finish.

Do I need to hire someone?

Instances where you might want to consider hiring a professional to design your property:

  • Steep slopes
  • Water pools near the house -- this indicates drainage issues and must be fixed immediately
  • You feel overwhelmed or lack confidence 

You can learn more about professional landscape designers and what they do in our Interviews section, where I talk with landscape designers Heidi Schreiner and Susan Schlenger.

Other online tools

I've found a couple of online design sites that you might find helpful:

If you'd prefer to design a herb garden online, these are both very good websites. Take a look at these and see which one you like better.

Smart Gardener is free, while GrowVeg offers a 30 day free trial to try it out.

If you really love growing food beautifully, the Tasteful Landscape community may be just the place for you.

What would you like to read next? Here are some related pages:

Grow a herbs de Provence garden - Learn more about culinary herbs

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