DIY Raised Herb Garden
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 add a completely different dimension to the food, and tending to the plants makes for a 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 it all together and made 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.
Planning for Your Project
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 six hours worth, but some herbs 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 the 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.
Shopping for Your Project
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.
Building Your Herb Garden
- 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 up 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.
- 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 four bags of manure and six 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 seven bags of chips.
- The Finishing Touches. An herb garden isn't an herb garden without herbs. I planted basil (two, 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 Project Was Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive
The entire build, not including shopping time, took less than three 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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Cristina Vanthul (author) from Florida on September 30, 2012:
And it's a great quiet spot to sit after work and relax before cooking, exercise, picking up, etc. Love it so far. And the use of the herbs.
Mariele on September 28, 2012:
Nice! The use of the little cubby is a great idea, and it'll get some shade too.
Cristina Vanthul (author) from Florida on September 25, 2012:
Thank you so much, Jill! I love my little corner and sit there with the different herb scents every evening. I've used a bit of the basil, thyme, and dill so far but am waiting for everything to become well-established before I start using them too much.
Mrs Jil Manning from Sussex, England on September 25, 2012:
great transformation of a small space. Herbs are such a great additon to the garden for cooking and health uses. This has inspired me to make more of the space I have, thank you.