Illustrated Plan for a Colorful Herb Garden

Reader Contribution by Michael Feldmann
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An herb garden can be a very pleasing and useful addition to any yard. Illustration by John Peterson

Aromatic plants will please both the nose and the eyes. This beautiful herb garden design incorporates foliage of various colors and textures to produce a visually appealing and fragrant display. The focal point of this design is rosemary planted in a lovely container. Containers of spearmint and peppermint flank the rosemary, adding height to the garden while also preventing these plants from overgrowing.

Weeds are kept to a minimum, and the soil is shielded by fragrant, low groundcovers, including curly parsley, lemon thyme, golden sage, and variegated oregano. This lovely herb garden is not only very beautiful and fragrant but also very easy to care for — even a new gardening beginner can deal with it.

Garden Layout

Here are the plants and their positions in the herb garden. Illustration by John Peterson

Plant List

Herb garden plan diagram. Illustration by Michael Feldmann

  • A 4 Curly Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) Annual
  • B 3 Variegated Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Variegata’) Zones 5–9
  • C 1 Spearmint (Mentha spicata) Zones 3–11
  • D 1 Variegated Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Zones 5–11
  • E 2 Golden Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Aurea’) Zones 6–9
  • F 2 Variegated Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Variegatum’) Zones 4–9
  • G 1 Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Zones 4–8
  • H 4 Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum purpurescens) Annual
  • I 2 ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ Basil (Ocimum x citriodorum) Annual
  • J 2 Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) Zones 4–9
  • K 2 Dill (Anethum graveolens) Zones 2–11
  • L 1 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Zones 8–11

Planting and Care

Herbs provide beauty and fragrance in the garden and abundant flavor in your kitchen. Most herbs are easy to grow and, once planted, require little care besides watering and harvesting. So, if you’re just getting started with an edible garden, herbs are a great to start. Here are some easy tips to care for these almost carefree, beautiful, flavorful plants.

Before You Begin

Preparation is the key to developing a garden that will provide enjoyment for a lifetime. Before you go to the nursery to buy plants, you need to review which plants can grow in your area, can they grow in your soil, do you have enough space, do you have enough sunlight, and many others.

Choose the Right Location

Most of the herbs that I have included in this garden plan are very easy to care for and need only several things: enough sunlight, well-drained soil, enough space, and the correct USDA Zones. This means that when deciding where to place your herb garden, you should look for a spot that receives six or more hours of sunlight per day, has well-drained soil, and has enough space for your herb garden.

Many people think of convenience when deciding where to start an herb garden. Planting near the kitchen or the house can make harvesting herbs from the herb garden easier.

Prepare the Soil

After you’ve decided were to start your herb garden, you’ll need to prepare the soil. Add a lot of compost if your soil is sandy or clay-heavy. Even if your soil is in good condition, working some compost into the soil will provide nutrients for your herbs while they are growing.

Planting Your Herbs

Keep all of your plants in their pots and place them on the planting bed if you have them on hand. This will give you an idea of how the bed will look and encourage you to make changes before digging any holes.

Place your plants in the soil at the same level as they were in the pot. Firm the soil around each plant with your hands, then thoroughly water it. The distance between herbs varies depending on the plant; generally, allow enough space between plants so they all have enough space to grow and flourish.

After all the herbs have been planted and thoroughly watered, next you need to mulch your plants. Shredded leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and straw are all excellent mulch options for herb gardens. Apply the mulch properly to suppress weeds, conserve soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Caring for your new herb garden is very easy. The only thing you need to do is correct watering, a little fertilizing, mulching, picking up weeds if there are, and pruning & harvesting.

Watering

The majority of herbs grow best in well-drained soil and create their most intense flavor when kept dry. Their water requirements are determined by soil type, weather conditions, and the type of your plants. Plants in sandy soils, for example, require more regular watering than those in clay soils.

Keep in mind that plants use more water when the weather is hot, windy, and low humidity than when it is cold, humid, and cloudy. Apply enough water to moisten the root zone at least 6 inches deep while watering. Water can be applied efficiently using soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems: They avoid wasting water by only watering the plants’ roots, and this also prevents many diseases by keeping the foliage dry.

Fertilizing

Herbs that receive a lot of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, grow slowly and have little flavor or fragrance. As a result, don’t over fertilize your plants. Controlled-release manufactured fertilizers and organic fertilizers that decompose slowly are less likely to provide an excess of nutrients all at once. To figure out how much fertilizer to apply, follow soil test recommendations or label directions.

Mulching and Controlling Weeds

Mulch to prevent weeds from growing in your herb garden. Wood chips, straw, or pine needles are fine organic mulches to use. Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around your herbs, but keep it away from the plant’s crown. Mulch smothers weeds, prevents most weed seeds from germinating, and makes it easier to pull those that do germinate. Mulch also helps to preserve moisture, so you’ll need to water less frequently!

Pruning and Harvesting

When you prune and harvest your herbs often, they seem to grow better. Pruning keeps plants from outgrowing their space. You can harvest or prune your herbs at any time until they begin to bloom. Herbs grown for seeds or, such as coriander or chamomile, must be harvested after the seeds have dried on the plant or when the flowers are about to bloom entirely. Cutting the herbs with clean tools reduces the risk of disease and keeps your herbs healthy and productive.


Michael Feldmann is a farmer and writer in Oklahoma, who studies agriculture and has worked as a journalist for magazines and newspapers around the country. His writing has been published in Acres USA, Rural Heritage, Farming magazine, Farmers Weekly, Permaculture magazine, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and as a column in Poultry World. Read all of Michael’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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