Building Your Own DIY Herb Garden Tower

Herbs are a wonderful addition to any home garden. Not only do they provide fresh flavors for cooking, but many herbs also have ornamental value with attractive flowers, foliage, and scents. An herb tower is a unique and space-efficient way to grow herbs in a small yard or even on an apartment patio. With a simple DIY herb tower made from common materials, you can grow a variety of fresh herbs within arm’s reach.

Choosing a Location

When selecting a spot for your DIY herb tower, choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Herbs thrive best in sunny conditions. Make sure your tower will fit comfortably in the space without crowding other plants. An herb tower looks beautiful placed in a corner, along a wall or fence, or near a seating area so the herbs are readily available when cooking. Consider placing it near a door or window you pass by frequently so you’re more likely to snip fresh herbs when needed.

Planning Your Design

One of the great things about building your own herb tower is you can customize the design. Think about the shape, size, and number of planting tiers that will work best for your space and herb gardening needs. A tiered tower utilizes vertical space efficiently, with each layer providing more planting area. Consider 3-5 tiers in varying diameters as you move up the tower. The wider base tiers can hold larger plants or even vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes, while the smaller upper tiers are perfect for herbs.

For a unique shape, try building a hexagonal or octagonal tower. You can make tiers round, square, or rectangular. Opt for at least 12-18 inches between tiers to provide enough headspace for plants to grow. Make sure to position each successive tier above the previous one instead of centering them for the most space efficiency. The tower can be as tall as you like, but 3-5 feet is typical.

DIY Materials and Tools

One of the benefits of creating your own herb tower is getting to use on-hand materials like these:

  • Plastic or terracotta pots and saucers in a range of sizes
  • Lumber scraps or boards, PVC pipe, poles, or other material for the tower frame
  • Landscape fabric, burlap, or moss to wrap the outside (optional)
  • Zip ties, twine, or other material to secure pots together and attach to frame
  • Metal hook stakes, shelf brackets, or other hardware to attach pots to frame
  • Small gravel or decorative rocks for drainage
  • Potting soil and compost

For building the tower, you will need:

  • Drill with various drill bits
  • Saw (hand saw, circular saw, jigsaw etc)
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Safety equipment (gloves, eye protection etc)

Choose biodegradable and reusable materials when possible for an eco-friendly design. The specific tools and materials depend on your tower design.

Constructing the Frame

The frame provides the essential structure holding your herb tower together. Use lumber, PVC pipe, metal poles, or similar materials to build a strong frame customized to your tower size. Cut the main pieces to the desired height and width. Pre-drill holes and bolt, screw, or glue the frame together.

For a more finished look, cut smaller trim pieces to hide joints or give decorative details. Paint or stain the frame before assembly if desired. Make sure the frame is sturdy and level – a poorly built frame will make it tricky to stack pots properly. The frame does not need to be solid since pots will cover it.

Consider attaching the frame to stakes in the ground or a wall/fence for extra stability. Just ensure the structure can still be moved if needed. Build or buy a drip tray to catch excess water under the bottom tier.

Preparing and Placing Pots

Stackable plastic pots, terracotta pots, or nursery planters all work for an herb tower. Make sure to use pots with drainage holes. Clean used pots thoroughly first.

Drill extra drainage holes in saucers if using. Elevate pots above saucers with pebbles or feet. This allows water to drain freely from the soil.

For stability, attach 3-4 metal hook stakes, strong zip ties, or small brackets along the inside and outside rim of each pot. Space hooks evenly so pots nest securely onto the frame.

To prevent soil from leaking, wrap exterior of pots with landscape fabric, burlap, coconut fiber, or moss using adhesive or twine to attach. Start with the widest pots on bottom. Carefully stack pots, resting top hooks on lower pot rims. Stagger them for a visually appealing tower.

Filling Pots with Soil

Good potting soil is key for an herb tower. Use a quality organic soil blended for containers and vegetables. Mix in compost or aged manure for added nutrients.

Moisten soil before potting so it easily fills corners. Pack soil down firmly as you fill pots to prevent settling. Leave 2-3 inches below rim for watering. Consider adding gravel, pebbles, or foam pieces at bottom for extra drainage.

Fill and plant pots as you assemble each tier to avoid toppling a towering structure. Or partially assemble, fill pots, then stack onto frame. Just don’t fill upper pots until the tower is complete.

Selecting and Planting Herbs

When planning what to plant, opt for a selection of herbs that will enhance your cooking. Include a mix of annual and perennial herbs. Perennials like thyme, sage, oregano, chives, rosemary, and lavender only need planting once and will regrow each year. Annual herbs like basil, cilantro, and dill must be replanted annually. Here are some great options for an herb tower:

  • Basil – Plant in full sun. Pinch flowers to prolong harvest. Goes well in Italian dishes, pesto, salads. Many varieties available.
  • Chives – Easy to grow perennial. Snip pieces as needed. Delicious in eggs, potatoes, dips and more.
  • Cilantro – Sow every 2-3 weeks for continual harvest. Use leaves and seeds for Mexican and Asian dishes.
  • Dill – Quick to grow, thrives in cool weather. Use leaves and seeds for pickling, fish, and potatoes.
  • Mint – Plant in own pot to control spreading. Flavorful addition to drinks, salads, jellies, and sweets.
  • Oregano – Hardy perennial loves sunshine and spreads well. Essential for Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.
  • Rosemary – Seasoned herb with piney scent. Requires well-drained soil. Use in chicken, seafood, breads and more.
  • Sage – Sturdy perennial with soft leaves and earthy taste. Perfect for poultry, stuffing, beans, and pasta.
  • Thyme – Comes in many varieties. Easy to grow and provides great flavor to meats, soups and vegetables.

Space plants according to package instructions or online guides. Transfer seedlings from packs or gently remove plants from containers, loosening roots before planting. Water thoroughly after planting. Add compost and organic fertilizer as needed.

Caring for Your Tower

  • Water whenever top few inches of soil become dry. Check pots daily. Water slowly and deeply, allowing water to soak in.
  • Inspect regularly for pests like aphids. Remove by hand, spray with natural solutions, or use ladybugs.
  • Pinch off flowers on annual herbs to encourage more leaf growth.
  • Harvest often by trimming leaves and stems down to a leaf node. Avoid taking too much at once.
  • Replant annual herbs as needed. Divide overgrown perennial herbs.
  • Consider moving indoors before frost if desired. Reduce watering for indoor wintering.
  • Clear dead stems and foliage as plants die back for the season. Top up soil and compost.

Customizing and Expanding Your Tower

The great thing about building your own herb tower is you get creative freedom. Try these ideas to make your tower unique:

  • Add height with a weathervane, birdhouse, or water fountain for the top.
  • Include edible flowers like nasturtium, calendula, and pansies.
  • Plant cascading herbs like creeping thyme at the edges.
  • Mix in vegetable plants like lettuce, kale, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Plant wheatgrass or microgreens in shallow pots on top for juicing.
  • Train climbing vines like beans, cucumbers, or peas up the sides.
  • Hang vining plants like strawberries in baskets at the edges.
  • Add grow lights for an indoor tower or to extend seasons.
  • Turn it into a tea garden tower with mint, lemon balm, lavender, fennel, and more.

The ideas are endless when building your own herb tower! Start with a simple design, then get creative with themes, shapes, added accessories, and planting ideas over time. Including a DIY herb tower in your garden or patio is an easy and unique way to grow an abundance of fresh herbs to flavor your cooking all season long.