Whether you're searching for herb garden ideas for your kitchen windowsill or are looking to create a dedicated herb border in your garden, these are picture-perfect ways to get started.
Herbs have the power to transform your meals: turning the humble salad into an Italian delight, breathing new life into curries and fish dishes as well as providing many essential components for numerous cocktails.
‘The flavors from freshly picked home-grown herbs are far superior to shop-bought dried alternatives, especially if organically grown,’ says gardening expert Leigh Clapp.
You don’t have to have a huge backyard to create your own herb garden, in fact, many of these herb garden ideas don't require a garden at all. Read on to be inspired.
If you’re wondering ‘how do I make an outdoor herb garden?’ then the easiest answer is to create one in a raised bed.
Get on board with the ‘grow your own’ revolution by adding raised beds to your garden. Very easy to install, they are simply a square or rectangle built wood, metal or brick, which is then filled with soil. Raised beds are also a great choice if you aren't able to garden at ground level as you can purchase tall designs that let you garden while standing.
More versatile than planting straight into the ground, raised beds also give you greater control over soil type, condition and nutrients, meaning you can produce a bumper crop of your favorite fruit, vegetables and herbs.
'Many of our favorites like rosemary, thyme and sage come from the baking hills of the Mediterranean and do best in poor soil. Others, like parsley, coriander, basil and dill are annuals that grow fast and easily,' advises Monty Don in a recent blog post.
Of course you don’t have to have a dedicated herb border or kitchen garden to create your own herb garden. Growing herbs in a flower and shrub border is a great way to add interest to your garden, providing the garden with their delightful perfumes as well as being culinarily productive.
Some varieties also offer benefits to the other plants such as warding off pests or improving productivity.
If you’re short on garden space, perhaps only with a small courtyard or even just a doorstep, you can create a complete herb garden in a single planter.
Terracotta herb planters have various holes that allow you to plant different herbs in separate sections of the same pot. Terracotta is a great choice for this type of pot as it is porous, meaning it lets air and water circulate, preventing root rot and soil disease, and keeping your herbs healthy.
See:Container gardening ideas– ways to create a lush oasis in the smallest of spaces
If you want to maximize the available space in your garden consider planting your herbs vertically. There are several different herb garden ideas that can help you achieve this. Upcycling an old wooden ladder is a beautifully rustic way to add height to your garden, creating a striking yet compact focal point that draws the eye and adds interest.
Vertical gardening is not just for outdoors. If you don't have a windowsill in your kitchen – or want to keep it uncluttered – there are still lots of herb garden ideas for your kitchen.
Hanging planters from the ceiling is not only a practical way to grow herbs in your kitchen but also adds a botanical flair to your kitchen's design. Perfect for smaller kitchens, this clever Ikea hanging pot doesn't take up any worktop space. Alternatively, hanging pots on utensil holders or placing them on bookshelves also lets you grow your favorite herbs.
How do you start a herb garden for beginners, especially in a small space? Containers are a great way to do so – they are easy to manage and grouped or wall-hung, they look fabulous, too.
'Many herbs grow well in containers, especially ones that spread, such as mint, tarragon and lemon balm,’ says Leigh Clapp. ‘Small, portable pots allow you to move your herbs around to suit the season, cover with a cloche, pop in a coldframe or bring indoors in winter.’
'Many herbs are native to the Mediterranean and thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Grow a few containers of favorite herbs on the patio, deck or balcony for convenient access for you, and even guests, to harvest and add fresh ingredients to your meals,' advises gardening expert and author Melinda Myers.
When it comes to potting up your herbs, garden and herb expert Jekka McVicar of Jekka's advises potting up a plant one pot-size at a time. 'Going from a 1ltr pot to a 10ltr pot in one go will stress the plant and can quite often kill it,' she says.
‘Keeping herbs close to hand is advisable, as you are much more likely to make use of them while cooking than if they are growing down the bottom of the garden,’ suggests garden expert Leigh Clapp.
Either grow them near the back door, or regularly cut sprigs and place in glasses of water – like you would cut flowers – to ensure you always have your favorites on hand and ready to use.
Windowboxes are an easy way to grow herbs both indoors and outdoors. Positioned on the kitchen windowsill it is one of the most convenient ways to grow your favorite herbs – you can go from plant to plate in a matter of a few seconds, you can't get fresher than that.
An outside windowbox is ideal if you only have a small (or non-existent) garden. It will add a quaint cottage touch to your home's exterior, you can even intersperse your herbs with flowers to add interest to the display and give it a more aesthetic flair.
If you’re looking for something a little less formal, the local salvage yard offers infinite possibilities for herb garden ideas – from roll-top baths and butler’s sinks to chimney pots and troughs, which while no longer fit for their original purpose, look stunning when planted up with herbs.
‘Get creative with recycled and upcycled containers – from wooden barrels to metal buckets; just remember to include drainage holes,’ says Leigh Clapp
Even if you don't have a green thumb, it doesn't mean you can't grow your own herbs. Modern inventions have completely removed the need for the plastic pot leaking soil on the kitchen windowsill.
Grow-systems featuring integrated lights mean you can grow bountiful herbs in even the darkest galley kitchens. While these systems have looked a little space-age in the past, design updates have yielded beautiful designs like the above brass-effect Smart Growhouse from Modern Sprout. Not only does it look chic on your kitchen countertop, but it's eco-friendly LED light will ensure that you have the heartiest crop for all your cooking needs.
If you're looking for something simpler – and can't stand the thought of soil in your kitchen – then hydroponics are the way forward. While it might sound technical, growing herbs hydroponically is actually one of the most straightforward herb garden ideas. Rather than growing your herbs in soil, the plants are grown in baskets suspended above jars of water into which their roots grow. So no need to constantly remember to water your herbs.
The easiest way to work out which herbs can be planted together is to work out which ones will enjoy the same conditions. So, herbs of Mediterranean origin (think: oregano, basil and sage) will like hot, dry conditions in summer; herbs that thrive in cooler climes (rosemary, for example) will enjoy shade and more water.
One thing to note: some herbs, such as lavender and lemon balm, should be grown in pots as they are invasive and will overwhelm other herbs.
If you are a beginner to herb gardening, the best way to begin is by picking perennial, tough herbs like mint, rosemary, sage and thyme which will not take much looking after and will yield a delicious crop of herbs year after year.
Another way to tackle herb gardening as a beginner is to choose herbs that will grow happily in the climate in your area. If you have fairly mild or even warm winters, then your herbs will likely continue to grow throughout the majority of the year. 'Herbs are easy to grow and you’ll be able to harvest them fresh for up to nine months of the year,' advises Leigh Clapp.
On the other hand if you live in a cooler area, especially one that experiences sharp frosts, your herbs will be dormant throughout the winter months. However, growing your herbs indoors or in a greenhouse will extend the growing period and mean you can have herbs all year round.
You should plant your herb garden in the sunniest spot in your garden. Lots of herbs, like rosemary, basil and oregano, herald from Mediterranean climates, so thrive in warm, dry conditions. However, some herbs like thyme, sage and borage are more well suited to cooler, damper climates, so will need some shade. Consider the needs of the herbs when you are looking at herb garden ideas to make sure you have the right pairings, positioned in the right place in your garden.
You should not water herbs everyday. You should instead treat each plant individually. Touch the first inch of soil and feel whether it feels dry – if so it will need watering, if not then test again in a few days time. As a general rule of thumb, your herbs will need watering once a week. However this depends on where they are planted and the weather – a potted herb grown on a windowsill will dry out much more quickly than a herb planted in a border during a rainy week.
'My top tip is to water in the morning, but never at night,' advises garden and herb expert Jekka McVicar of Jekka's. 'This way you will not send the plant to bed wet when the night temperature drops, so causing the plant to sulk. If you notice the leaves are turning yellow or wilting it is most probably because you have overwatered, if this is the case do not water for a day and see if the plant perks up.'
Whether it is better to grow herbs in pots or in the ground depends on where you live and the amount of space you have.
'All the Mediterranean herbs will grow very well in a container if they have a very gritty compost mix. However, do not fall into the trap of forgetting to water them regularly or letting them get pot-bound,' says Monty Don in a recent blog post.
However, growing herbs in the ground is lower maintenance as they will not need watering as often and will not need repotting.
See:Small vegetable garden ideas– from layout designs to the best crops to grow
It is definitely cheaper to grow your own herbs. 'Growing by seed is the cheapest option and the most rewarding way of raising your own crops,' advises garden expert Leigh Clapp. 'Choose crops that are expensive to buy compared to growing them yourself – for example herbs, such as mint, sage, thyme, parsley and rosemary.'
'If you buy herbs they always come in dainty little pots with even daintier little plants growing in them,' says Monty Don on his blog. 'For the cost of a packet of seed you can raise hundreds of marvellous herbs.'
Herbs grown yourself with be stronger, more vigorous and more flavorful than those bought in the supermarket which often only last a few weeks at most. A packet of seeds can produce enough herbs to last you for nearly three-quarters of the year.