Where to Plant an Herb Garden

An herb garden can be a great addition to any home. Fresh herbs lend immense flavor to dishes and provide aromatic and sometimes medicinal benefits. But where is the optimal location to plant your herb garden? Here is a comprehensive guide on the best placement for an indoor or outdoor herb garden.

Choosing the Right Location

When deciding where to plant your herb garden, there are a few key factors to consider:

Sunlight

Most culinary herbs need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Some varieties, like thyme, oregano, and rosemary, thrive in hot, sunny spots. Others, like mint, parsley, and cilantro, can tolerate partial shade. Always check the sunlight requirements for the specific herbs you want to grow.

Southern exposures are ideal, as they receive sunlight throughout the day. East-facing spots get good morning sun. West-facing areas get hot afternoon sun. North-facing zones only get indirect light—not optimal for most herbs.

Soil Quality

Herbs grow best in loose, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH around 6.5-7.0. Clay soils tend to get waterlogged. Sandy soils drain too quickly. The ideal herb garden soil has a mix of silt, loam, and organic matter like compost.

Test your soil to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Amend it with compost or other organic material to improve drainage and fertility if needed.

Convenience

Look for a spot near your kitchen that you pass by frequently. This makes harvesting and using fresh herbs easier. Pots can go right outside the kitchen door. In-ground herb beds could line a nearby garden path.

Having herbs within reach encourages more use to boost the flavor of home-cooked meals. Plus, you can snip herbs like basil, cilantro, and dill minutes before serving to maximize flavor.

Herb Garden Location Ideas

Outdoor In-Ground Gardens

When planting an in-ground herb garden:

  • Choose a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of direct light.
  • Prepare soil by loosening, removing weeds/rocks, and mixing in compost.
  • For better drainage, raise the garden bed or plant on a slope.
  • Place taller herbs like dill and fennel towards the back, short herbs like thyme in front.
  • Arrange herbs with similar watering needs together—like oregano and lavender.
  • Plant perennial herbs on one side for easy fall cleanup.
  • Leave space between plants following spacing guidelines.
  • Include edging material like bricks, stones, or wood to define the garden.
  • Mulch around plants to retain moisture and reduce weeds.

Elevated Garden Beds

Raised garden beds provide excellent drainage and loose, fertile soil perfect for herbs. Build the beds at least 6-12 inches deep and 3-4 feet wide to allow ample root space.Situate them in a sunny spot near a water source. Surround the beds with stone, brick, or wood frames.Fill with a quality potting mix or amended garden soil. Fertilize and replenish the soil each season as needed.

Window Boxes

Window boxes allow you to grow herbs right outside your kitchen window for true convenience. Mount the box securely beneath the window in a sunny spot. Use a lightweight potting mix in the box for good drainage. Pinch and prune herbs regularly to contain their size. Water when the first 1-2 inches of soil becomes dry.Protect plants from harsh weather by moving the box indoors or under an overhang as needed.

Pots and Containers

Any type of container with drainage holes in the bottom can be used to grow patio herbs. Match the pot size to the herb’s expected mature size. For example:

  • Small herbs like thyme and chives – 6-8 inch pots
  • Medium herbs like basil and parsley – 10-12 inch pots
  • Large herbs like mint and oregano – 14 inch or larger pots

Group pots close together on a sunny patio, deck, or balcony. Use potting mix, feed with organic fertilizer, and water when the top inch of soil dries out.

Indoor Herb Gardens

When choosing where to plant an indoor herb garden:

  • Select a bright, sunny window (south or west exposure) for most herbs.
  • Use supplemental grow lights if sunlight is limited to less than 6 hours per day.
  • Pick smaller sized pots or containers with drainage holes for adequate root space.
  • Use a quality potting mix formulated for indoor plants.
  • Place basil, mint, parsley and other frequently used herbs near kitchen for easy access.
  • Sit dill, thyme, oregano further away since they are more sporadically harvested.
  • Keep plants above 60°F and regulate moisture carefully in the indoor environment.

Herb Garden Designs and Layouts

Once you’ve selected the location, think about how you want to arrange your herb garden. Here are some popular herb garden design ideas:

Theme Gardens

Group herbs together based on their purpose or use:

  • Culinary garden – Commonly used cooking herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, sage.
  • Salsa garden – Cilantro, chives, onion, tomato, jalapeno.
  • Salad garden – Chives, dill, parsley, thyme, lettuce, spinach.
  • Tea garden – Chamomile, mint, lemon balm, stevia, hibiscus.
  • Pizza garden – Basil, oregano, garlic, onion, peppers, tomato.

Geometric Designs

Use geometric shapes and patterns to create visual interest:

  • Circular garden – Plant herbs in a circular shape with tallest herbs in center and lower ones around edges.
  • Rectangular beds – Form long straight rows or square/rectangular shapes.
  • Keyhole garden – Circular garden with keyhole-shaped opening for entry. Plant tall herbs towards back of circle.
  • Herb spiral – Wind herbs upwards in a spiral mound with best drainage at top.

Potager Style

Mix herbs together with flowers and vegetables:

  • Plant edible flowers like nasturtium, calendula, and violas with herbs.
  • Include vegetable plants such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic.
  • Use trellises and arbors to grow vining herbs like peas.
  • Let some herbs go to flower to attract pollinators.

Alphabetical Order

For easy identification, arrange herbs alphabetically:

  • Plant in rows or blocks grouping herbs by first letter.
  • Place sign markers or plaques in front labeling each letter group.
  • Add new herbs by alphabetical order as you expand the garden.

Freeform Design

Use island beds, borders, or rows in an informal style:

  • Scatter herbs in drifts and groupings of your choice.
  • Mix herbs with flowers, vegetables, and ornamentals.
  • Include pathways, benches, arches, stepping stones, and other garden accessories.
  • Allow some herbs like mints to ramble and spread as groundcovers.

Companion Planting

Thoughtful placement using companion planting principles can help herbs thrive:

  • Plant rosemary, sage, and rue near cabbage and broccoli to repel pests.
  • Garlic, chives, onions and leeks deter aphids and cabbage worms around greens.
  • Dill attracts beneficial insects and improves flavor of tomatoes nearby.
  • Basil repels flies, mosquitoes, and thrips, protecting tomatoes and peppers.
  • Oregano provides shelter for predatory ground beetles.
  • Borage helps improve growth and flavor of strawberries.
  • Chamomile accumulates calcium, potassium, and sulfur to share with herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro.

Maintaining Your Herb Garden

Once your herb garden is planted, regular care and maintenance will keep it growing strong:

  • Water when soil dries out. Most herbs need 1-2 inches per week.
  • Fertilize with organic matter like compost or fish emulsion. Herbs are light feeders—too much nitrogen creates excess foliage.
  • Prune regularly to promote new growth and full shape. Cut back rampant growers like mint.
  • Weed carefully by hand to avoid damaging shallow herb roots. Apply mulch to suppress weeds.
  • Check for pests like aphids and properly identify before treating. Wash off dust and dirt from leaves.
  • In fall, trim back dead growth after frost kills tender herbs. Mulch perennial herbs for winter protection.

Conclusion

The ideal spot for an herb garden has lots of sun, nutrient-rich and well-drained soil, and close proximity to your kitchen. Carefully choose which herbs to grow based on your cooking preferences and their required conditions. Design the layout in an organized fashion or let it take shape naturally. With the right location and some simple care, your herb garden will thrive indoors or out!