Herb gardens can be spaces of tranquility, creativity and joyfulness.
Whether you need a place to unwind after a stressful day at work or want to develop a practical and healthy way to harvest cooking ingredients for your family, growing a bountiful herb garden is easy with the right space, planning, and equipment.
Deciding Where to Put Your Herb Garden
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, growing an herb garden doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where you want to place your plants so they’ll get plenty of sunlight. Apartment-dwellers working with limited space might consider using a small balcony or even a windowsill.
A few small pots with a variety of live plants or stem cuttings make a big difference.
These plants brighten your space and provide easy access to your favorite cooking herbs, so you can make healthy meals for your family.
It’s easy to use this approach with small patio spaces and decks, as well.
Don’t have a balcony? Opt for a convenient window box. These roomy containers provide plenty of drainage and are simple to install, and some models have a self-watering feature, too.
If your windowsill is wide enough, add a few small planters to create a delightful kitchen herb garden to help promote healthy eating habits.
Here are a few common herbs that are easy to grow in smaller spaces:
- Basil: This easy-to-grow herb will thrive inside a small, deep container on a warm, sunny balcony or windowsill. Basil is an annual, which means it only lasts for one year.
- Chive: These plants prefer moist, fertile soil, so make sure they get plenty of shade in the summer. Chives are ideal for window boxes and small pots.
- Mint: Available in many different varieties, mint grows best in its own pot because it can quickly overtake other herbs. Peppermint and other species need plenty of moisture and sunlight.
If you have a large back deck or patio, you’ll have plenty of room to create a sprawling herb garden. You’ll have ample space for creativity when designing your garden as well as an opportunity to involve the kids. Let them help you repot seedlings and arrange containers while you teach them about herbs and plant care.
With a bigger layout, you’ll be able to experiment with larger herbs. You may have to trim these plants to make sure they don’t grow out of control, but several high-yield herb varieties will flourish on a spacious deck or porch.
Common patio-friendly herbs include:
- Sage: This aromatic herb is popular in many savory dishes. It grows up to three feet high and two feet wide.
- Lemon Balm: This plant reaches up to two feet in height. Widely used in teas and baths to help relieve stress and tension, lemon balm has a calming effect.
- Hyssop: Left to its own devices, this herb can become a small bush in no time. Hyssop’s fragrant leaves are a wonderful addition to soups, salads and stews.
Whether your deck is large or small, you’ll still have room to experiment and play. Mix and match pot heights for visual appeal and use hanging planters to make the most of your vertical space.
Do your research beforehand and choose herbs that will best complement your patio as well as your favorite recipes.
How to Arrange Your Herb Garden
If you’re just starting out, your first inclination may be to put several herbs in the same pot to conserve space and create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
While these plants might look nice when placed together, some herbs need separate containers due to their individual needs and growth patterns.
The general rule of thumb for planting herbs is to combine those that like the same environment.
Plants that prefer the same level of sunlight, moisture, and fertilizer get along fine in the same container. For example:
- If you have rosemary, plant it with sage, thyme, lavender, or oregano.
- If you have thyme, plant it with oregano, lavender, or marjoram.
- If you have basil, plant it with parsley, cilantro, or tarragon.
- If you have lemon thyme, plant it with lemon verbena.
Certain herbs, however, need to live alone. Their aggressive growth makes them harmful to other plants and herbs.
Some plants, like mint, grow best by themselves, as they have a tendency to spread and may smother any surrounding herbs or vegetables.
What Other Benefits Can an Herb Garden Have?
Not only can you plant herbs with other herbs, but you can also benefit by combining these plants with garden vegetables.
Certain herbs help repel mosquitoes and other harmful insects, and pairing some herbs with growing veggies may improve their growth and flavor as well.
Another fun way to get the kids interested in the herb garden would be to plant a few edible flowers, such as nasturtium, lavender, and marigold.
Children can be picky eaters, so giving them the option of eating a bright, colorful flower might encourage them to branch out and try more healthy, colorful foods too.
Additionally, your herb garden can become your sanctuary after a long and tiring day. Put their soothing colors and relaxing scents to good use by stepping out onto the back patio and taking a moment for yourself.
You can also include herbs like chamomile and lavender in your garden, so you can pour yourself a cup of tea or add them to your bath and enjoy a hot, soothing soak.
What Do I Need To Create An Herb Garden?
With several containers and soils to choose from, deciding which items you’ll need takes some consideration.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardening pro or you’re just starting out, having the right tools for the job can mean the difference between having a green thumb and being green with envy at others’ successes.
The first thing you’ll need is planting pots. Ceramic, stone, metal, plastic and concrete containers come in a range of sizes and designs.
Mix and match depending on your style preferences, or select several of the same kind to get a coordinated look. Some pots are also self-watering, which makes taking care of them a breeze.
You’re also going to want to get good potting soil for your herb garden. Be sure to get actual potting soil, which allows proper drainage in containers, and avoid buying garden soil, which should only be mixed with topsoil for outdoor flower beds.
Do some research to see if you want to start with seeds or with a bare-root plant or stem cutting. Once you decide, pick up your seedling trays or starter pots at your local home improvement store or garden center.
A Healthy, Practical, and Unique Space
Whether you want a tranquil green space for relaxation or a place to gather with the family to practice healthy habits, an herb garden is a beautiful and practical addition to your balcony or patio.
When starting your own garden, remember to focus on location and available space, herb choices and benefits, and the tools and containers you’ll need to make your new hobby a success.