10 Indoor and Outdoor Herb Garden Ideas That Guarantee Fresh Basil, Parsley, and More All Year Round
One of the most rewarding aspects of having a culinary garden is getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor. From snipping off some fresh rosemary for a cocktail garnish to using home grown lavender in your flower arrangements, growing herbs is one of the most low maintenance ways to start a kitchen garden. The best part? You can grow herbs even if your square footage is limited, both inside and out. Whether you set up a windowsill growing station or plant a dedicated bed in your big backyard, our herb garden ideas will ensure you have access to fresh basil, parsley, thyme and more all year round.
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Related: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Cultivating a Vegetable Garden
Create a Border With Herbs
Blending form and function, herbs can be used to create beautiful edging for your garden. "Herbs can create a lovely border that smells fantastic," says Carrie Spoonemore of Park Seed. "Using herbs as a border can also deter pests away from plants in the center of the raised bed."
One variety that's a particularly great border plant is Anouk Lavender, which makes for a uniform edging that can repel bugs and deter rabbits and deer. Simply plant it around the greenery you want to protect or use it to enclose your entire garden.
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Plant Herbs in Window Boxes
Many herbs grow well in confined spaces because of their fairly shallow root systems, which makes window boxes an ideal place for them. Additionally, window boxes offer good drainage—a necessity for a handful of herb varieties. "Herbs like spearmint, oregano, rosemary, and thyme all work well in window box planters," says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes, Belgard. "Window boxes are perfect if you don't have ample space or are looking for a convenient option to grow culinary herbs."
Go Vertical With a Canvas Shoe Organizer
If you're running out of places to put your plants, consider going vertical with your herbs. "Growing herbs in a vertical garden can be a great space-saver and a beautiful backdrop for any space indoors, on an exterior wall, or in your yard," says Spoonemore. One way to do this indoors is to hang a canvas shoe organizer on the back of a door that receives ample sunlight. "Herbs can remain in the pots from the store, and a small plant tray can be placed inside each pocket to collect drainage," says Spoonemore. Place tall herbs like rosemary on the top rows, bushy herbs like thyme in the center, and basil and mint on the bottom.
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Grow Herbs in Raised Garden Beds
Many gardeners use raised garden beds to grow herbs, flowers, vegetables, and more as they allow for more soil control and have excellent drainage. "Raised garden beds are a great option for herbs," says Kayla Fell, creative director of Refugia Design. "We like to add a mixture of warm weather favorites such as basil, oregano, and thyme alongside varieties of lettuce and tomatoes in our raised beds." If you go this route, it's important to have a system in place to protect your plants from four legged friends, like deer, squirrels, and even your family pet who may scavenge your supply.
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Grow Windowsill Herbs
Want your herbs right where you can see them? Grow the plants on your windowsill. "Growing herbs indoors can be especially convenient for cooking," says Spoonemore. Alternatively, if you don't have optimal lighting in your home, you can invest in an herb garden kit with fluorescent light. "Herbs will need at least six hours of sun or 14 to 16 hours under a grow light," says Raboine.
Keep your herbs in containers that offer proper drainage so the roots don't stay wet—typically, the best size pot for windowsill herbs is 4 to 6 inches deep. "You can get creative and add style to your herb garden by using old tea cups or bowls," says Spoonemore. "Place small rocks in the bottom of containers without a drainage hole." If your vessels do have drainage holes, make sure to use plant saucers or trays to protect your windowsill from water damage.
Xeriscape With Herbs
Ideal for areas where droughts are common, xeriscaping is a garden system that depends on annual rainfall for irrigation and requires little to no supplemental water. These landscapes utilize what the natural climate provides in order for plants to thrive. A handful of herbs are drought tolerant, meaning they are great for xeriscaping. "Lavender, rosemary, and sage are Mediterranean herbs that love the heat and drier soil," says Spoonemore. "This makes them a perfect choice for xeriscaping."
Attract Pollinators With Flowering Herbs
Welcome pollinators like bees and butterflies into your garden by planting flowering herbs. "Bees are especially attracted to those with more nectar, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, lavender, and lemon balm," says Raboine. On the other hand, calendula and sage will attract butterflies. Keep in mind that allowing some herbs to flower can change their flavor. "If you plant more than you need and let some go to seed, our pollinator friends will be very appreciative," says Fell.
Combine Herbs With Flowers
Planting herbs alongside flowers is visually impactful, but also beneficial for your garden. "Biodiversity in the garden adds interest by infusing a variety of colors and textures," says Spoonemore. "Having a mix of plants of different heights will add an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye." Additionally, pairing a pest repellent flower next to your herbs can keep the edible plants safe from predators. "Some combinations that work well together are pansies and rosemary, thyme and zinnias, and roses and chives," says Raboine.
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Plant Herbs in Hanging Baskets
Another way to save space while still creating a beautiful display of herbs is to grow them in hanging baskets. "Herbs in hanging baskets are convenient and eye-catching," says Spoonemore. "They can provide a pop of color and flavor to your outdoor area while helping keep pests away." Any herb that grows well in a potted environment can be kept in a hanging basket. "Some common choices are dill, parsley, marjoram, and basil," says Raboine.
Grow Cascading Herbs
Decorate a pergola or fence by placing cascading herbs close by the structure for the plants to drape over and grow around. "Lemon balm, chamomile, and oregano are herbs that will spill beautifully and will have charming tiny blooms, as well," says Spoonemore. "Creeping thyme is also great to spill over the edge and will shade the soil, slowing evaporation."