Building a courtyard herb garden is an effective way to brighten up unused space. Not only does this allow you to pluck and use fresh homegrown herbs in recipes, but you can also start and grow herbs early, long before they appear in the market. Herb gardens are also visually pleasing, tranquil and contribute toward aromatherapy. You do not need a very large area for your herb garden; a small patch will suffice. Use containers, planters and hanging pots to grow a variety of herbs.
Select what part of your courtyard you want to start your herb garden in. Observe how the sunlight hits your courtyard at different times of day. Most herbs need four to six hours of sunlight, so check if your selected spot gets the required amount. Measure the size of your designated spot and mark it with powdered chalk so you have an idea of its size and how it looks.
Draw a rough sketch of the spot on graph paper. Decide what shape you want to give your herb garden. Depending on the space available, you can make a circular herb garden, or a rectangular one. You can even make two squares, with a tiny path in between. Include any containers or hanging plants you may want to use. Brainstorm different designs until you find the one that complements your courtyard.
Decide what herbs you want to grow in your herb garden. Make a list of the ones you typically use, and research their lighting and watering needs before you purchase them so you can only buy those that will thrive in your courtyard.
Place a garden hose in the shape of your herb garden bed and dig at least 12 inches into the ground. Remove any rocks or debris and add 3 inches of compost to the area. Rake the soil so the compost goes deep.
Use clay, plastic, wood or ceramic containers of different shapes and sizes to add variety to your herb garden. Place some on plant stands for a tiered effect. Fill the containers with good quality potting soil and compost to a 3-to-1 ratio. Also use hanging baskets to provide visual interest at different eye levels.
Plant seedlings of the types of herbs you want to grow. Mix annuals with perennials so your herb garden is never barren. Plant short herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano in the front of the beds or containers and tall ones like dill, lavender and fennel in the back for a symmetrical look.