Garden Spaces: Raised Bed for Your Herb Garden

Learn how to create a compact, raised bed herb garden for easy access to your favorite culinary herbs.

| April/May 2009

  • Illustration by Gayle Ford

  • Illustration by Gayle Ford

No matter how many herb garden beds I create throughout my property, I still dream of having an herb planter like this one. If I had my favorite culinary herbs growing in a single compact bed near my kitchen, I could just stand in front of it to figure out what’s for dinner, and then gather what I need.

Design Plan: Culinary Herbs for a Planter

Measuring a mere 5 to 6 feet long and 2-1/2 to 3 feet high and deep, this planter is easy to manage, yet holds enough herbs to supply a family with daily snippings at dinnertime. And because the planter is bottomless, the soil inside drains easily and plant roots can grow deep.

New gardeners, as well as cooks who don’t have space for a large garden, will love the simplicity of this carefree bed. Even those who already have herbal landscapes will appreciate its convenience. There will be few weeds to pull and no pruning, as the constant harvest will keep herbs compact and shapely. Watering and occasional feeding are the only maintenance chores required.

For my dream planter, I’ve selected my favorite culinary herbs, but left out dill, fennel and others that would grow very large in the landscape. Feel free to substitute your own favorite cooking herbs. For instance, if your taste (or climate) leans more toward cilantro than tarragon, by all means, swap them out. You might even experiment with some of the taller herbs. In a planter, they won’t grow as large as they would in the garden.

A planter like this is ideal for growing a collection of different varieties, such as basils. And this method makes it easy to add or subtract plants as needed. If you want the fragrance of lavender or the bite of a pepper, for example, simply tuck in one of these herbs. On the other hand, if your oregano or mint plants become too rambunctious, just yank them out and try something else. You can grow most of these plants from seed, but filling the planter with started plants will be much easier. You’ll probably find all of these commonly available herbs at your neighborhood garden center. Or, you could start your own plants from cuttings taken from elsewhere in your garden.

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