Herb Bed Landscaping

In our article about making raised beds part of a garden landscape plan we mentioned herbs as well as vegetables and soft fruits. Raised beds work really well for many herbs but they’re not essential, herbs are equally suited to container gardening, terraces or ordinary beds.

But from the landscape point of view, it’s worth considering herbs separately to other planting. The reason is that many are quite small plants and they aren’t used a great deal, small amounts being enough to give the required flavour in a meal. So you need a space that can cope with a large number of small plants and allow them to be tended and gathered individually. There are particular guidelines that make for an interesting and useful herb bed, as well as attractive, as part of an overall garden landscape layout

Historical Landscape Feature

Since medieval times herb beds have been features of landscape design. From a practical standpoint small amounts of each herb need to be harvested frequently, so it’s necessary to be able to access each herb without treading on another one. Many different designs evolved over the centuries that separated each herb and provided a safe footing in between them.

This is known generally as ‘plant and pave ‘ and the simplest version is like a chessboard with a planted square alternating with a paved square. But you need quite a bit of space for that so it might be better to use smaller paving to step on. Or experiment with other shapes such as triangles or pentagons, whatever suits the area you’ve set aside for herbs in your garden.

Herb Beds in Awkward Locations

One of the advantages of including a herb bed in a landscape scheme is that it can be fitted into an odd corner or other nooks and crannies of a garden. As long as there is a reasonable amount of sun and good drainage then many herbs will grow well.

If your plot slopes awkwardly then planting herbs in a sloped area can turn a tricky landscape into a benefit. As long as you can put enough footholds into the slope then picking herbs can be a lot easier on an uphill slope than doing it from ground level.

Containers of Delight

Of course a lot of the right growing conditions for herbs can be realised by planting in containers. These can be worked into an overall garden scheme and they can be moved around too. This allows them to get the best sun throughout the year, shade those that need it and even take them into a protected space to over-winter.

Assaulting the Senses

Finally, don’t forget the aromatic nature of herbs, something that can be used to great effect in a landscape plan. This can be as simple as planting lavender either side of the back door so that the scent is released when you come in or out of the garden.

Or you could devise a herbal border to divide different areas of the garden, a lawn from a vegetable plot, or as a border around the edge of a patio or other area where people sit and relax. Other plants that could join lavender in a herbal border could be mint, rosemary or meadowsweet and slight winds would surround people in their aroma.

Herbs can look good, taste good and smell good, so it’s well worth including a herb bed in a garden landscape layout.