How to Prepare Soil for an Herb Garden


Typical herb gardens contain a variety of perennial herbs, with a few annuals tucked between larger specimens. Most thrive in full sun and require relatively little care, other than clipping to keep them in shape and occasional watering. Preparing the soil for the garden includes routine tilling and amending the soil to create the conditions the herb prefers. Once established, care consists of watering once a week, light fertilization and keeping weeds in control.

Step 1

Select a site that receives full sun for the majority of the day. Although many herbs will grow in partially shaded areas, oils responsible for the flavor and fragrance of herbs develop best in direct sun.

Step 2

Till to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Remove stones, roots and other debris. Break up clods of soil with a garden hoe or rake.

Step 3

Perform a soil test on the soil to determine its pH. Adjust pH to 6.0 to 7.5, following the instructions in your soil test kit.

Step 4

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of bulky humus, such as straw-based manure. Work the humus into the soil with a garden tiller or hand tools. Herbs require sandy or average soil that drains easily and provides aeration for roots. Bulky humus encourages drainage and provides aeration.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add fertilizer to the soil. Herbs thrive on poor soil and develop the best flavor and fragrance with minimal fertilization.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Garden hoe/rake/claw
  • Bulky humus
  • Soil test kit


  • Univerity of Minnesota Extension: Herbs
  • Ohio State Univerity Extension: Herbs

Who Can Help

  • Univeristy of Illinois Extension: List of Common Herbs
Keywords: soil for herbs, garden soil, prepare soil

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.