Vegetable Garden

Herb Garden Design ~ How to Create an Herb Garden

May 4, 2014


Herbs were one of the very first edible plants I grew from seed over thirty years ago and they’re a great way to begin the journey of growing your own. They’re undemanding plants and can grow well in containers outside your door, in flower beds or in specially built herb gardens.

globe artichoke

globe artichoke

If you’ve thought about growing herbs but aren’t sure where to begin, the following will help you to start growing and picking your own herbs from your garden this year.

Soil Conditions for Herbs

Most herbs prefer warm, open sites that aren’t subjected to prevailing winds and are out-of-the-way of frost pockets.



Ensure the site has been cleared of pernicious weeds and there’s good drainage, which is essential for growing herbs as the majority of the ones mentioned below don’t like sitting in water. Try to prepare the area you’ll be planting herbs into a few weeks before planting time. This will allow you to remove any weeds that have grown in the disturbed soil.

Herbs generally like to grow in fertile soil with a neutral pH that isn’t too rich, so home-made kitchen compost or leafmould forked in as a soil conditioner when you’re preparing the soil will be perfect. If you don’t have your own compost to hand yet, head into a garden centre and ask the staff to point you in the direction of a good soil improver.



Herb Garden Design

When you’re choosing herbs to plant in the garden, it’s a good idea to place taller varieties in the back of the bed and  smaller ones at the front. In a circular bed place the taller plants in the middle.

With a careful mix of colour, leaf shape and texture you can create a herb garden that will be a joy to be in. For instance, tall architectural plants such as silvery globe artichokes are shown to their very best if they’re accompanied by the soft, feathery foliage of a bronze leafed fennel.

How to Create an Herb Garden

If you’d like some ideas for more popular hardy, kitchen herbs that are suitable for growing outside in Irish gardens click here for a free PDF of Popular Herbs.

borage plant

borage plant

How many plants?

A basic rule of thumb is ten plants per square metre (one plant per square foot) which will give you something to look at during the first year and a good effect thereon after.

Smaller plants such as chamomile and thyme will need to be planted closer and can make good edging plants.


Very little maintenance is required in the herb garden bar keeping the weeds down. Allow them to settle down and establish before you begin to pick them for the kitchen and make sure they don’t dry out if they’re in containers.

If you’d like more information about creating a herb wheel, take a look at the guest post I wrote for CountryLife last year which gives detailed instructions. There are several posts on the Greenside Up blog for herbal teas and vinegar too as well as advice on drying them.

Are you growing herbs yet? There’s nothing like snipping a few leaves of fragrant plants you’ve grown yourself and adding them to dinners or refreshing drinks.




  • Reply Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) May 5, 2014 at 1:48 am

    This is so useful Dee – am saving for the day that I might just get around to planting some herbs!

  • Reply Amanda Webb May 6, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for the tips Dee. We’ve been meaning to plant a herb garden for years. I can now see we were going to put it in totally the wrong place. Back to the drawing board now.

    • Reply greensideupveg May 6, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Oh dear, hope the post hasn’t put you off?! At least once you build it now you’ll know it will have a good chance of surviving 🙂

  • Reply Lorna May 6, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I have a few herbs in the flower bed e.g. sage and rosemary – to be honest, I find it a miracle that they survive. I hope they survived the winter yet again. What do you think is the handiest herb to grow in terms of the one you would use most in cooking?

    • Reply greensideupveg May 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      They should do, they have an amazing ability to bounce back. The only herb I’ve lost over the years outside is sage. The herbs I wouldn’t be without now are rosemary, thyme, marjoram, coriander and tarragon for the kitchen. I love fennel for it’s appearance though barely use it. Chamomile, lavender and lemon balm have been great new additions for teas and I always try to have some basil growing in the polytunnel in the summer months too.

      • Reply Lorna May 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        Now you are putting my cooking to shame as well as my gardening ;0)

        • Reply greensideupveg May 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm

          That’s funny Lorna given that my herb bed is overgrown and under harvested. I don’t use them that often but I am glad they’re there when I need them and it’s only for the fact they look after themselves they’re still there. If it’s any consolation I had to weed before I took the photos 😉

  • Reply Melissa @ The Glen House May 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Great piece, thank you for sharing on Twitter. I’m delighted to have found your site.

    • Reply greensideupveg May 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks Melissa, look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

  • Reply Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads July 3, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Hello Dee! Great to meet you! I created an herb bed early this spring but I’ve yet to post about it! I would have to do a little weeding myself before I photograph it, too! Like you, I underuse it but it’s nice to have the herbs available in case the mood strikes!

    • Reply greensideupveg July 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks for dropping by Jane, look forward to reading about it 🙂


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