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Start Your Own Herb Garden

Updated on April 25, 2010

First Things First

There are many factors that can influence your herb garden. But since you're just starting, you shouldn't let yourself get confused with too much too soon. Below are four of the basics and the most important things that you should look out for and consider when you want to grow herb garden.


Most, but not all herbs, are from the Mediterranean region. Hence, they love the sun. The amount of sunlight that your garden receives must match the sun requirements of the herbs you plan to have. Having too much is better than having too little because you can always create an artificial shade to screen some of the sunlight, but you can't create an artificial sun if you need more. (Well, technically you can, if you're growing herb indoors, use artificial grow lights. But that is for another topic.)


This means the type of soil you have in your backyard. Is sandy? loamy? or clay? Will it be possible for you to add something to achieve a soil mixture that's perfect for your herbs? Will it be able to drain excess water as most herbs don't like to sit on soggy soil? Is the type of your soil uniform all throughout your backyard? There are plenty of cases where different sections of the backyard have different soil types.

Other things you should know about the soil is its pH level and nutrient and mineral content. You can have these things measured by getting soil samples from random areas in your backyard and sending these to the laboratory for testing. Or you can buy the soil test kits that are available in most garden centers.


How much space do you have? Is it big enough for a full garden? Or it is better to have a container garden to conserve more space and be able to grow more herbs in pots? Knowing how large or how small your space is will help you determine which is the most suitable design and layout for your garden. It's like mapping out the canvass, before you start painting.


What exactly are the herbs you'd like to have in your garden? Are you considering herbs that have similar uses and benefits? Do you want your garden to be functional or it is purely for aesthetic reasons? Are there any particular herbs that you can't do without and must be there no matter what?

If you're still unsure which herbs should go into your garden, have a look at some herb garden types/classifications below to have an idea can find an inspiration for your herb garden.

Culinary Herbs
Culinary Herbs
Medicinal Herbs
Medicinal Herbs
Aromatic Herbs
Aromatic Herbs
Tea Herbs
Tea Herbs

Herb Gardens by Uses and Function

Herbs are often grouped based on how they will be used. You can plan your herb garden this way, with more focus on its function rather than its form.

Culinary Herb Garden

Have a culinary herb garden when you want to grow herbs that are edible and can be used for cooking. These herbs are generally tasty, and enhance or infuse their own distinct flavors to the dishes they are added to.

One popular form of culinary herb garden is the windowsill herb garden, where common culinary herbs such as basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme are grown in containers and are placed on a windowsill, often near the kitchen. This is ideal when you want fresh herbs within easy reach every time you're whipping up something in the kitchen.

Medicinal Herb Garden

Medicinal herb garden is for growers who are fascinated with the curative properties of herbs. Using herbs as alternative medicine to cure common and chronic ailments is perhaps as celebrated as using herbs for cooking. Some of the most common medicinal herbs are aloe vera, valerian, St. John's wort, garlic, ginger and gingko biloba.

Aromatic Herb Garden

Aromatherapy has regained its popularity with the proliferation of spas and wellness centers. And with it, people's awareness and fondness for aromatic herbs also soared. These herbs are favored for their scent and are often use as fragrant additives in perfumes, soap, shampoo and other beauty products. Although some herbs' scents only become evident and substantial after they are processed (extracted, infused, distilled, etc ), most are already fragrant as plants and can fill your house and its surrounding with very pleasant scents. Some of the well-love aromatic herbs are lavender, chamomile, sweet marjoram, lovage and rosemary.

Tea Herb Garden

Herbal teas have certainly found their place in the health drink section. Whether you taking herbal tea as a medicine, an alternative to coffee, or because you just love them, wouldn't it be nicer if you have your own tea herb garden where you can get a plenty supply of your favorite tea herbs?

Mediterranean Herb Garden

  • Greek Oregano
  • Berggarten Sage
  • Winter Savory
  • Dittany of Crete
  • And other Italian Herbs

Mexican Herb Garden

  • Amaranth
  • Sesame
  • Anise
  • Mexican Safflower
  • Chepil
  • Lemon Verbena

Asian Herb Garden

  • Cardamom
  • Chinese or Asian Chives
  • Garlic Chives
  • Curry Plant
  • Vietnamese Mint
  • Perilla
  • Vietnamese Coriander
  • Thai Basil
  • Chinese Cilantro
  • Lemongrass

Herb Gardens by Native or Origin

Now, if grouping herbs by function didn't appeal to you, you can maybe create a herb garden based on their native or origin. Some herbs are indigenous and popular in some regions and figured prominently in their dishes, medicine cabinets and gardens.

Italian Herb Garden

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Flat-leaved parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Mints

English Herb Garden

  • Borage
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lovage
  • Mints
  • Hollyhock
  • English Lavender
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Catmint
  • Feverfew
  • Veronica

Herb Garden Design

Once you've chosen the herbs you want in your garden, the next step is choosing the design and layout that you want. Typically, there are two types of herb garden design:

Formal Garden Design

When you want your garden to have a structure or a pattern, then go for formal designs. This type of design usually involves the use of symmetry, pattern, structure and a large garden space to execute the design beautifully. Famous formal designs include the knot, weave, wheel, and other geometric shapes and lattices.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Formal Garden Design (photo credit: Jodie Delohery | VegetableGardener.comFormal Garden Design (photo credit: Design-Gardens.comKnot Garden Design (photo credit:
Formal Garden Design (photo credit: Jodie Delohery |
Formal Garden Design (photo credit: Jodie Delohery |
Formal Garden Design (photo credit:
Formal Garden Design (photo credit:
Knot Garden Design (photo credit:
Knot Garden Design (photo credit:

Informal Garden Design

These type of design is more lax and unstructured. Often, herbs arrangement do not conform to a specific patterns or shape but are arranged in such a way that they will look natural. Cottage garden design is the perfect example for this type of garden design.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)
Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)
Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)
Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)
Informal Garden Design (photo credit: Cottage Kitchen Herbs)

Contemporary or Modern Garden Design

Often due to lack of space, landscape artists, and even home gardeners, are coming up with ways to execute a design with whatever garden space they have. This gave rise to modern-day gardens such as window herb garden, rooftop herb garden, container herb garden, etc.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Rooftop Herb Garde (photo credit: Tabard Inn)Vertical Herb GardenContainer Herb Garden
Rooftop Herb Garde (photo credit: Tabard Inn)
Rooftop Herb Garde (photo credit: Tabard Inn)
Vertical Herb Garden
Vertical Herb Garden
Container Herb Garden
Container Herb Garden


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