How to properly plant a herb garden

a herb garden next to a house
a herb garden next to a house

Spice and medicinal herbs please with their variety of colors the eye, with their fragrance the senses and relieve so many physical ailments with their beneficial active ingredients. As a seasoning or decoration of delicious food, they round the tastiest dishes. No wonder the trend to grow healthy herbs directly in their own herb garden is becoming more and more popular. This even works out in the middle of the city, because fresh herbs also thrive on the balcony. But some rules should be considered when planning and creating a herb garden.

Creating a herb garden: preparations

Before you start with the actual work, you first have to clarify some basic questions regarding the herb garden:

  • At which point should it be created?
  • How much space is available?
  • Which herbs should be grown?

Herb Garden Location: As sunny as possible

No matter which herbs you choose individually; they all have one thing in common: they want to be cultivated in a sunny spot as possible. However, it should be noted that not all can tolerate the blazing midday sun; a half-shady spot should therefore be made available to these herbs, for example sage.

Also, when choosing the location should be considered that this is located as close to the house: in on rainy days, it is much more pleasant to quickly get a few fresh herbs.

When is the best time to plant the herb garden?

It is best to start planting a herb garden in the spring, preferably on a dry day. So already in May, sowing or planting of the herbs is possible.

Dill plant
Dill plant

Which herbs fit together?

Since herbs need different substrates to thrive, it makes sense to put those together in a bed whose claims are identical. But not only that: as with other plants, there are also “good” and “bad” neighbors in herbs; those that harmonize with one another and those that do not tolerate each other well.

Good match:

  • dill
  • marjoram
  • chervil
  • chives


  • borage
  • dill
  • chervil
  • parsley
  • woodruff


  • dill and
  • parsley

harmonize perfectly with each other; the same applies to

  • basil and
  • rosemary

and to

  • lemon balm
  • tarragon
  • peppermint
  • hyssop

Lemon balm is a true all-round talent: it promotes the growth of all other herbs and can therefore be planted in every bed; The only exception is the basil, with which they can not tolerate.

When planting itself should be taken to ensure that the herbs are staggered in height:

  • Low herbs on the edge
  • Mid-height plants in the middle
  • High herbs in the background

Popular herbs and their light and soil requirements

Herb – Lifespan – Location – Soil

  • Wild garlic – perennial – shady to light semi-shade – nutritious, humic and moist
  • Basil – annual – sunny – nutritious, permeable
  • Comfrey – perennial – sunny to partially shaded – nutrient-rich, loose, humic
  • Borage – annual – sunny – nutrient-rich, rather humid, loose
  • a herb garden next to a house – annual – sunny to full sun – nutrient poor, dry, calcareous, sandy
  • Savory (winter) – two to to several years s- unny to full sun – nutrient poor, dry, calcareous, sandy
  • Dill – annual – sunny and sheltered from the wind – nutrient-rich, loose
  • Nasturtium – annual sunny to partially shaded – low in nutrients, loamy, slightly sandy, calcareous
  • Chervil – annual – semi-shade to sunny – porous, humus-rich, deep
  • Cress – annual – sunny to partially shaded – no special claims
  • Caraway – biennial – partially shady to sunny – nutrient-rich, rather loamy
  • Lavender – perennial – full sun to sunny – low in nutrients, rather sandy, dry
  • Marjoram – One to several years – full sun to sunny – loose, loamy-sandy, humic
  • Oregano – perennial – sunny – humus rich, not too nutritious, dry
  • Parsley – biennial – sunny to partially shaded – nutrient-rich, loose, deep
  • Peppermint – perennial – sunny to partially shady – slightly moist, humic, nutritious
  • Marigold – annual – full sun to sunny – nutrient-rich, loose, not too moist
  • Rosemary – perennial – full sun to sunny – rather sandy, not too nutritious, dry
  • Sage – perennial – full sun to sunny – sandy to stony, low nutrient, permeable
  • Chives – perennial s- unny to partially shady – loamy sandy, slightly moist, nutritious
  • Thymian – perennial – full sun to sunny – loamy sandy, dry, rather nutrient poor
  • Lemon balm – perennial – full sun to sunny – humus, loose, slightly nutritious
permaculture herbal garden
permaculture herbal garden

Plan Herb Garden: The herbal selection

When building a herb garden, a few factors play a role in the planning. The first question that you have to ask yourself is: Which herbs would I like to plant, and what needs do they have? Because it makes a difference whether you want to grow heat-loving rosemary or water-thirsty watercress. Sage and oregano need a place in the sun and rather dry soil, while parsley, borage and chives need plenty of water. Coriander and salad burnet again prefer calcareous soils. And not all herbs like to stand side by side. For example, peppermint and chamomile do not very well tolerat one another. Dill and tarragon as well as marjoram and thyme do not like to stand side by side in the bed.

As a rule of thumb, do not mix annual and perennial herbs, but form each group. So make a list of your favorite herbs and their requirements for substrate, space and need of light. Then you group all the herbs that fit together well (for example oregano, thyme and savory or hyssop with lavender) and finally choose the right location for your herbal bed based on your considerations.

The shape and location of the herb garden

Then you should think about the desired look and the location of the herb garden. If you do not want to plan your own herb garden yourself, you can fall back on tried and tested bedding types. For example, the elegant herbal spirals are popular, in which the herbs are planted helically. Definitely, you can easily build such a herbal spiral yourself. Or have you ever seen a “herb wheel”? The herbs are distributed in a circular bed as in the spokes of a wheel. You can also combine kitchen and medicinal herbs as a mixed culture with vegetables and other plants, strictly according to farmer’s garden type into rectangles or arrange according to the nature of the Far East harmony “Feng Shui”.

If you want to do the planning yourself, you can customize the shape of the herb garden, depending on your personal preference and available space. It is also possible to create the herb garden intuitively, for example, to be inspired by the different colors of the herbs and to combine them with each other according to visual aspects. But note the incompatibilities of the plants with each other, so it does not come to nasty surprises.

Plan your herbal bed only so big that you can handle it not only horticultural, but also culinary and not half of the splendor ends up unused on the compost. Small nameplates help to keep track of the individual varieties, especially at sowing time. Also note that many herbs, such as sage or chives, attract bees and bumblebees during flowering. If you are afraid of the buzzing insects, you should not plant these herbs in the immediate vicinity of the patio or balcony.

Little hint:

Bees and bumblebees are useful for every garden and nature; only a small amount of wild bees can even sting (less than 10%).

The classic: the herbal spiral

A herbal spiral is a real eye-catcher in the garden and a great way to grow many different herbs. For this version of the herb garden, however, you must plan enough space and some working time. A masonry herbal snail, when properly created, is characterized by the fact that one and the same herbal bed fulfills different site requirements by different moisture zones – from humus, moist soil to dry, warm substrate, each level of the spiral provides its own micro-landscape. So every herb gets its optimal planting place and the plant selection is not limited to like-minded people.

Hier Link zu eigener Text „Kräuterspirale selber bauen“

Another classic: a simple herbal bed

Quite classic and practical is the creation of a herb bed, which in turn is divided with tread plates, low hedges or other room dividers and planted differently.

Designed in a grand style, aromatically well-matched herbs can be combined to offer fragrant aromatic seeds in the garden. Supplemented with a seating area to linger you do not only create a fresh supply for the physical well-being, but a retreat and haven of peace in the garden.

Herbs in the raised bed

When planting a herb garden, raised beds are an option alongside the low peasant and vegetable garden beds or herbal spirals. Raised beds are particularly suitable for mediterranean herbs, as the soil there is a bit drier and warmer than in the normal bed. A raised bed also has the positive characteristic that you can harvest comfortably and without bending down and when you fly by the delicious smell directly rises in the nose. And best of all: snails have no chance in the raised bed! Also hanging plants such as nasturtium are pleased with the increased planting position from which they can hang their long tendrils. If the raised bed is exclusively intended for planting with herbs, it can be made very narrow, for example along the terrace, and it can be designed as a decorative and fragrant screen element.

Tip: Build your own raised bed made of pallets

Small herb garden on the balcony or terrace

A herb garden does not need much space. Even on the balcony or on the terrace, it is possible to make quick arrangements of herb pots by skilfully placing the boxes and pots. Determine the correct corner for your herb garden based on the solar yield and create a flower staircase on which you can accommodate several pots or boxes. Hanging baskets put nasturtium and the creeping versions of rosemary and thyme perfectly in scene. The advantage of the pot garden when planning a herb garden is that every plant has its own space. Thus, the individual substrate and watering needs and space requirements can be perfectly taken care of, and the different herbs do not get in each others way wehn growing. If a plant dies or is harvested, the entire pot is replaced with a new one quickly.

A small herb garden on the balcony or terrace
A small herb garden on the balcony or terrace

Create creative herb bed

A herb garden in itself is already a diversified, creative garden component. But especially with herbs, it does not always have to be the classic garden form. The half-height, shrubby herbs are ideal for decorative planting, so you can create, for example, a vivid bed surround. Or you use drought-loving herbs for greening dry stone walls. Be creative and plant your herb pots in wooden crates, old barrels or a discarded wheelbarrow (do not forget to put some holes in it!). Small name plaques made of enamel, wood or slate are not only practical, but also pretty to look at.

What should one pay attention to?

Herbs taste and work especially because of their concentrated ingredients. Therefore, when planting herbs, plan not only the planting, but also the care of the precious ingredients. The herb garden should be as far away from traffic as possible, so that the pollutants of the exhaust gases are not absorbed by the plants. In addition, do not use synthetic herbicides, insecticides or fungicides and only fertilize with organic fertilizer or compost. Herbs are best watered with fresh, low-calorie water. Water from the rain barrel is not suitable for herbs and vegetables, which is consumed raw because of the germ load.

Care of the herb garden

Of course, the herb garden needs some care. In the course of the gardening season, weeds or unwanted seedlings should always be removed immediately if possible. The weeds deplete the soil of nutrients and at the same time increase the risk that vermin may be attracted or even plant diseases may arise. The diseases are not caused by the weeds themselves, but by the resulting competitive stress.

For the care of the herb garden it is also necessary to check whether all plants have sufficient nutrients available. Many herbs are very easy to care for in healthy soils and only require limited additional fertilizer within a planting season. Nevertheless, it may happen that deficiency symptoms occur. Nutrient deficiency usually occurs when certain nutrient salts are missing or the roots of the plant can absorb them insufficient. In the case of deficiency symptoms such as yellow-leafed leaves, puny growth or missing flowers, the type of fertilizer should therefore be tested well. It may sometimes happen that e.g. nitrogen is present in sufficient quantity, but there is a phosphorus deficiency in the soil, which often leads to problems during flowering.

The right watering

Herbs from Mediterranean regions such as lavender or rosemary need when planted in the garden only in very hot summers additional water. Even in the pot, they require little liquid. The situation is different with basil and other strongly growing herbs with large leaf volumes. They evaporate a lot of water over the leaves and even in the garden regularly need water and some liquid fertilizer.

watering can used for gardening
watering can used for gardening

The right fertilization

Most herbs need nutrient-poor soil. What they need, they pull out of the water. Therefore, a fertilizer, especially for mediterranean herbs is not necessary. The situation is different with strongly growing and, above all, quickly regrowing herbs such as basil, mints or parsley, which are harvested on a larger scale. It is advisable to use liquid vegetable fertilizer and about every two to three weeks to add a small amount of irrigation water.

Cut herbs properly

Mediterranean herbs are perennial and increasingly lignified, which is why a regular cut is appropriate here. Apply this in spring, even before the plants start again. As a rule of thumb, you can stick to removing one third of the plant. Where herbs usually forgive a more radical cut and drive out well again.

Harvest of plants

Harvesting the herbs should always be associated with sustainability. If fresh leaves are needed during the season, never more than ten percent of the plant should be harvested per week. If too much is harvested, the plant can switch to a stress mode, which in turn represents a major gateway for plant viruses.

With larger stocks as well as in the last summer weeks, many herbs can also be generously cut back. The leafy branches can then be gently dried. Here, however, only those herbs should be dried whose aroma is still exitsting even after flowering.

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