Build a Raised Herb Garden Sanctuary
Last winter, I grew a few herbs in pots as a test group to see how well I could grow them and how much I would use them. This year, I've found myself cooking more and more with fresh herbs and using other fresh ingredients to flavor our meals rather than the packaged dry spices and herbs that once littered one of my cabinets. The flavor and freshness adds a completely different dimension to the food and tending to the plants makes for relaxing time outdoors.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed a particularly ugly and unused corner of the backyard. Within a day I formulated my vision for that corner. That weekend, I put all together, making a raised herb garden sanctuary, a quiet corner where I can relax in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the evening while the sun sets. Why raised? I have pretty poor soil and to give the plants the best chance at success I wanted them in good soil. Here's how I did it.
My space is roughly 3.5 feet by 6.5 feet, bordered on one side by the house and on two by a privacy fence. Herbs like sun, about 6 hours worth, but some such as tarragon thrive on less. This particular corner gets sun from about mid-morning to about mid-afternoon. One side gets sun right into evening.
With the spot chosen, ideal for the herbs' light needs and also out of the way of foot traffic, particularly my dogs, the next step was to figure out how raised, how wide and what materials.
Always the fun part, this project cost me under $150 including the plants. I chose to make the walls of the bed from 12" x 12" pavers. I also purchased soil and composted cow manure, the plants, marble chips and a new adirondack chair.
1. Excavation. I say this because I had to clear the area. The home's previous owner had buried a number of large pavers and concrete edging in this corner. I'm not sure if these things were just put there when they lost their usefulness or if there was a specific reason for burying all the pavers. Either way, they had to come out. I'll end using the concrete edging somewhere or giving it away. The pavers were originally going to be a small patio within the raised beds for the chair but I've decided to make a patio elsewhere with them.
2. Build. With the ground cleared of concrete and grass and weeds, and leveled, I placed each of the new pavers about 4 -5 inches in the ground approximately 6 inches from the house and fence. I filled in the space between the bed walls and the house/fence with the manure and soil, using 4 bags of manure and 6 of soil. This I mixed well by hand and with a shovel.
The raised beds form a U shape. Within that U I put the marble chips for the seating area. This took 7 bags of chips.
4. The Finishing Touches
An herb garden isn't an herb garden without herbs. I planted basil (2, as I split the one I had), rosemary, thyme, dill, cilantro, sage, tarragon, oregano, chives and a non-herb shade plant in the one corner of the garden that will get very little sun. I have a potted aloe and a potted fern which sit at the ends of the U. And, of course, my orange adirondack chair.
The entire build, not including shopping time, took less than 3 hours. It's a quick, easy, low cost project that has enhanced an ugly corner of my yard, given me a quiet retreat at home, and which will provide years of fresh flavor for our meals.