How to Prepare an Herb Garden Bed


A fragrant and delicious way to garden is to grow herbs. Whether you make potpourri baskets, decorative cards or fill your meals with flavor, select a few herbs ahead of time and use late fall or early spring to prepare a garden bed. A well-prepared garden for annual herbs as well as perennial varieties can give you great results.

Step 1

Look over a reference guide or a resource online which lists the various types of herbs to select what you would like to grow in your garden. (See Resource section.) Based on this information, determine if your herb garden should be in the sun or the shade, or if you would like to create two gardens, one in each location.

Step 2

Select a location in your yard for your herb garden bed. This space should be large enough to accommodate the herbs you grow and their spacing needs, as well as the sun requirements of those plants.

Step 3

Measure the space for your garden area and mark it off with stakes at the corners. Run a string around the perimeter of the herb bed, looping the stakes at each corner.

Step 4

Use your measurements and spacing requirements to plan out your garden on paper before planting. You should now know how many mature plants and which varieties you can support in your size garden bed.

Step 5

Loosen the soil by tilling or digging with a shovel inside the marked-off garden area. Get a depth of 8 inches loosened; 1 foot deep of loose soil is ideal. Multiple passes with the tiller or digging with the shovel should break up large clumps into smaller pieces.

Step 6

Add a 2-to-4-inch layer of compost or other organic material over the entire surface of the herb garden bed. Mix the soil and the organic matter by tilling the bed again or turning and mixing with the shovel. Repeat, adding more matter if desired.

Step 7

Set up an irrigation system before you plant your herb garden, such as a drip system or a simple soaker hose. Be sure these systems can operate freely while you have the ability to work around them.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you plant herbs known as spreaders, such as mints, consider sinking a 1-gallon pot into the bed with the rim just above the surface. With your vigorous spreading herbs planted in the center of the pot, the pot will keep the plants from taking over the entire bed.

Things You'll Need

  • Herb reference guide
  • Tape measure
  • Wooden stakes or twigs
  • String
  • Pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Shovel or tiller
  • Compost, rotted leaves, manure or packaged garden soil
  • Irrigation system, if desired


  • The Edible Herb Garden; Rosalind Creasy; 1999

Who Can Help

  • The Old Farmer's Almanac herb listing
Keywords: preparing an herb garden, preparing an herb garden bed, how to prepare an herb garden bed

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.