Herb Garden Design Ideas

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Formal herb garden

Every garden needs herbs! Herbs like rosemary are what bring meals to life, and you only need a few sprigs or leaves to contribute bags of flavour and turn the ordinary… into the extraordinary. Herb gardens may be designed to fit any style, size or shape. If you’re looking for ideas to fit more herbs into your garden, you’ve come to the right place!

Where to Grow Herbs

There are herbs for every situation, so whether you have just a compact corner to spare or an entire garden, you can use herbs to create a space that’s both useful and beautiful.

Grow herbs in among your vegetables, alongside flowering ornamentals, in a wildflower meadow, on the patio or within a dedicated herb garden – the choice is yours.

Growth Habit

When designing with herbs the first thing to consider after growing requirements is growth habit. Tall, statuesque herbs like angelica contribute vertical interest to the garden. They are generally planted towards the back of a bed so they don’t overshadow shorter plants but can also look great thrusting skywards among lower growing plants.

Herbs like lavender attract beneficial bugs
Herbs like lavender attract beneficial bugs

Medium-sized herbs, from about one to three foot, or 30cm to a metre in height, will form the bulk of your planting. Combine a variety of leaf shapes, colours and textures to break up blocks of planting. And, of course, most herbs will also draw in numerous beneficial bugs, most noticeably bees that will go on to help pollinate vegetables and fruits.

Lower-growing herbs like parsley or chives should be planted at the front of any scheme where they can form a neat edging or spill outwards.

Edging and Paving

Herbs for edging look simply stunning. Grown alongside a path they’ll release their aroma every time you brush past.

Creeping herbs like thyme, oregano and prostrate forms of rosemary are great for growing within paving, planted into cracks, opportunistically at the edges, between slabs or in other gaps. From here they’ll extend out to soften hard surfaces, while taking advantage of the radiated heat to waft their delicious fragrance even further.

Plant herbs like thyme within paving
Plant herbs like thyme within paving

These types of herbs work well bursting out from any landscaped surface to create a more relaxed, informal feel. Or try planting them en masse to form a practical, yet highly attractive living mulch that also works to crowd out weeds.

Formal Herb Gardens

Formal herb gardens use straight lines and patterns for pleasing symmetry. Raised beds especially lend themselves to this type of setup, helping create a sense of ordered calm. Planting one type of herb per bed emphasises the order, while making maintenance far simpler.

Formal needn’t be on a grand scale. A simple herb wheel is a great way to pack a handy selection of herbs into a space little wider than your average steering wheel. Selecting herbs that enjoy the same growing conditions makes ongoing care easier, while dividing up the space into individual planting pockets helps stop herbs growing into each other or one herb from dominating.

Container Herb Gardens

Herbs in pots provide a feature
Herbs in pots can make an attractive feature

Many gardeners can only afford space for a few pots of herbs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t design an effortlessly stylish herbal heaven! Cluster pots of herbs, salads and vegetables together to create a living tapestry of leafy loveliness. Use bold forms like rosemary to create a feature on your terrace, or mix them up in stone or metal troughs and herb towers to really pack your herbs in while ensuring an eye-catching centrepiece to feed both body and soul.

Herbs can also be used to offer vertical interest by growing them in containers held up on posts, or secured onto walls and fences.

Design a Herb Garden

Designing your own herb garden is hugely satisfying, and our Garden Planner makes it easy. Play around with different layouts at your leisure. Drop in any number of containers, planters, troughs or raised beds from the Selection Bar, or design your own beds using the drawing tools. Once you’re done, select Herbs from the selection bar drop-down menu and begin planting. If you’re unsure which herbs are best for your garden, click on the information buttons for handy growing advice, plus details on how each herb may be used. You can also use the Custom Filter button to narrow down the selection to show, for example, only easy-to-grow plants, or plants that will grow in partial shade. Have fun trying out a few designs and perfecting a herb garden that’s unique to you.

Design your herb garden in our Garden Planner
Design your herb garden in our Garden Planner

Herbs bring so much to the garden – and us! Whether it’s a little something to liven up recipes or a profound sense of beauty. I hope we’ve given you a little inspiration to get started. If you have a herb garden please tell us about it in the comments section – is it formal, informal, separate from the rest of the garden or interspersed throughout? We’d love to know.

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Show Comments


"I have a vehicle been garden I created in a macrame curtain containing 32 pots on my deck so I can cut herbs and lettuce when cooking. I would like to share a pic if that's possible. "
Kath McLeod on Sunday 5 July 2020
"Hi Kath. That sounds very impressive. Unfortunately there's no option to share pictures on this site."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 6 July 2020
"Where can I get the baskets in the picture?"
Rebecca on Thursday 21 October 2021
"The baskets pictured are willow withy sections /planters. Or you might find it sold as willow edging. I'm afraid it wasn't my garden so I can't advise you were these were from."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 21 October 2021

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