Designing an Herb Garden

Designing an Herb Garden image by Robert Marksteiner


Designing an herb garden is almost as much fun as planting and harvesting the herbs. The selection of herbs is endless as are their uses. You can create an informal setting with simple herb beds or transform the space into a medieval adventure through creative walkways, raised beds and borders. When you are designing an herb garden, not only is the garden classified as a specialty garden, but you can go a step further and choose all culinary herbs, all medicinal herbs or herbs specifically used for teas.

Step 1

Choose a space that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Mark the space of the herb garden by using a hammer to drive wooden stakes into the ground. The stakes only need to be in the ground a few inches. These temporary posts outline the boundary of the herb garden. A section that is 6 feet by 8 feet is a good size to start with when designing an herb garden.

Step 2

Measure the space between the temporary wooden posts, and write these measurements on your graph paper. You may adjust the posts for equal measurements for easy design placement on the paper. If this is the first herb garden you have done, basic design ideas and even measurements are a good way to keep from feeling overwhelmed with the project.

Step 3

Draw a rough aerial view on the graph paper of what the garden will look like when it is completed. Measurements become less complicated if you decide on a measurement scale, or assign a certain number of inches to each block on the paper. Six inches per block works well.

Step 4

Establish boundaries, walkways and open spaces in the drawing. Be realistic about the space requirements when drawing these features. Walkways in gardens need to be at least 1 foot wide and 2 feet wide in a more formal herb garden. The other features, such as benches, birdbaths or fountains that will be in the herb garden, should also be added to the sketch. Consider using different colored pencils for marking out features and walkways to make the design easier to read.

Step 5

Convert the scale drawing to the garden area by marking borders and boundaries with the wooden stakes. Tie one end of the twine to one stake and string the twine from stake to stake until the entire herb garden design has been transferred to the actual site. You should be able to walk through the garden as though it were an established garden site. Correct any miscalculations by adjusting or moving the twine and stakes. During this stage of design, you can also become a little more creative if you want the walkways to curve or bend in any particular way.

Step 6

Prepare the soil of the herb garden and install any dividing spacers, borders or separators that are going to be used between the herbs or walkways. It is not necessary to add fertilizer to the soil at this stage, but a weed barrier that keeps out unwanted plant growth may be installed.

Step 7

Plant your selection of herbs in the designated spaces. Leave room for expansion, as herbs are prolific once established. A medium of sand, crushed rocks or pebbles makes a terrific walkway in an herb garden. In the past, low ground-cover plants like thyme were used in the walkways, adding a fresh scent each time someone wandered down the path.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden measurements
  • Graph paper
  • Wood stakes
  • Hammer
  • Twine
  • Dividing spacers (optional)
  • Hand shovel
  • Variety of herb plants
  • Medium for walkways (optional)


  • The Herb Society of America
  • Formal Garden Designs
Keywords: herb garden design, herbs, herb garden

About this Author

Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.

Photo by: Robert Marksteiner