Creating Your Herb Garden Layout

Once you have designed your herb garden, you'll need to create your herb garden layout.

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Design vs. layout: what's the difference?

If you've done a good job in your design planning, you'll already know

  • the colors you want in your herb garden
  • the position of the various garden plots in your yard
  • any hardscape you'll be adding
  • and where your irrigation will go.

Layout has to do with where each individual plant will go in each of your garden plots -- or in the yard as a whole, if you're doing a large herb garden.

So you'll want to consider

  • how tall you want your herb plants to be in each area
  • where you want tall plants
  • where short plants, ground cover, and hedges will go

My front yard herb garden, for example




Overall herb garden layout considerations

Place taller plants behind shorter ones, unless you want the tall plant to be a focal point for a garden which is viewed from all sides.

Plan your herb garden layout so that your perennial herbs aren't disturbed when you replace your annual herbs. Leave space between your perennials and your annual or biennial herbs that you will want to dig up later (like onions and garlic).

Plant your herbs in odd-numbered groups, unless you're using a plant that becomes large and bushy (like lavender). In that case, just planting one will be fine if that's all you want to plant.

In most cases, however, groups of three or five plants (or more!) make much more of an impact and prevent your garden from looking cluttered.

Think of how the garden will look from all angles.

In a formal garden this will be easier due to the symmetry most of these gardens have. In a less formal garden, make sure taller and wider plants are balanced by some equally (visually) weighty garden feature.

Tips for drawing your herb garden layout

If you have your original design map, you can use that as a starting point.

If you're planning a large herb garden, you can enlarge the map and copy each garden plot onto grid paper. That can be very helpful when you're planning the layout for large, oddly shaped garden plots.

GrowVeg and Smart Gardener have some nice tools to help you plan out your layout online, even showing you how closely you can plant and giving you tips on when to plant for your area.

Choosing plants and garden decor

When picking your plants, make sure they are going to do well in your climate and soil type. You can find this information online, or on the plant's tag.

You might consider keeping perennials that can't overwinter in your climate in large pots rather than trying to dig them up and re-pot them every season.

Remember: just because a plant is available in your local nursery does NOT mean it will automatically do well in your area! (I wrote a whole article about why this is, which is available to Tasteful Landscape members.)

Running out and buying without doing at least some research is likely to end in dead plants and tears.

I can do the research for you! Click here for details.

Consider when the herb plants you're considering bloom, and their color both when blooming and dormant. Also think about how tall and wide they will be when full-grown.

Most herbs come in a wide variety of leaf and flower colors, so if you don't see the one you want, keep looking!

Keep proportion in mind when choosing plants or garden accessories. A small statue looks good in a corner with relatively small plants around it; the same figure out in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by large shrubs will look puny.

Unless you're planning on market gardening, try not to plant excessively more than you're going to use and/or give away. I hate to see food go to waste!   

Are you creating your own herb garden? The Tasteful Landscape community may be the place for you!

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

Garden design pictures - Culinary herbs and spices

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