In this post, we go through a bunch of herb combinations which are good to mix and match when you have limited space to grow things. While these are delightful for small windowsill gardens or a more substantial potted herb garden, they are also completely relevant for larger spaces. The benefit naturally is you can produce HEAPS more in space you have. On top of that, you can incorporate herbs into your wider garden beds or make them wonderful features in pots placed throughout.
Lavender, rosemary and other herbs make wonderful additions to any larger garden spaces.
Now you will need to remember that tending to your garden may take a little longer as it increases in size. Also, your equipment may change to accommodate the large spaces you’ll be working with. If you’re already covered for this, great! If not, fear not. We’ve done some research on garden equipment to help you figure out what you’ll need. If you do have more distance to move around, it may be worth investing in a longer hose and a hose reel for watering. You can find our reviews of the best garden hose reel here. Or, a wheelbarrow to get things from one place to another.
Adding Herbs Into Bigger Gardens
Where are some ideas on how to take advantage of herbs in the garden, creating a practical and wonderfully scented dreamscape:
- Plant hardy herbs as a green border around garden beds or alongside paths (for example, lavender, rosemary and thyme make a great low wall when mature)
- Incorporate herbs into your vegetable patch or around flowering plants such as roses (see below companion planting and the benefits of it)
- Plant annual and perennial herbs in clusters to create a wonderful kitchen garden
- Planting herbs in upcycled old items can create a whimsical feel to your garden (eg old tea caddies, a disused wheelbarrow with holes in the bottom, old wooden buckets with a hole in the bottom for drainage – see post 2 for more ideas)
An established rosemary plant will make an excellent border.
Wherever you plant them, make sure your herbs are easy to access so you have an easier time harvesting them and watering them.
Although the best chance for healthy herbs is to make sure they are not overcrowded and have adequate room to grow, I have also met some gardeners who plant a lot initially in one area and move them out or around as they grow. The benefit to this is a gloriously green bunchy situation instantly. The downside is overcrowding or moving may damage the plant. I’ve had a crack at this and found only a couple of my herbs needed a tad longer to recover. Others have done wonderfully. But it’s up to you! There are so many different guides out there and a wonderful global library of information – practice and knowledge makes a great green thumb
Make Even More Of Your Space And Plant Up
Vertical gardens allow you to grow your favourite herbs using minimal space on the ground – furthermore, you may suddenly find yourself having more ‘garden’ space than your patio or selected area originally gave you. This gives you a chance to plant some other things in your garden along with your herbs.
Herb plants that thrive in the garden or in pots will also enjoy a home in your vertical garden. These can include any of the following: basil, parsley, microgreens, chives, coriander, sage, oregano, marjoram…. The list goes on. Plant what you think you will use and then add more herbs over time. If you enjoy a herb try to find a similar one and see how you go at growing that.
This rusty old gate will make for a perfect base to create a shade loving vertical garden. Some parsley has sprouted up just around the corner so it will grow well with some fresh soil in those old tea caddies (currently housing some succulents which can easily be transplanted). Note: allow for drainage by hammering some holes in the bottom of old tins such as these.
DIY Vertical Gardens
There are lots of different ways to try this out – here are just some ideas for a fantastic looking vertical garden:
- old plastic bottles turned on their side strapped to the wall. Create drainage holes and fill with soil and herbs
- pots hanging on chicken wire or a similar sturdy mesh
- wooden boxes attached to walls (be careful of weight and safety)
- opt for a premade ready to assemble wall – here is an example of a gro-wall and some of the great plants they put into it on the Milkwood blog
- upcycle some of the things you have at home that you no longer use. For example, a rusty old gate I found at the side of our property has been pulled out of the overgrown weeds and now stands tall and proud as a feature that I’ve hung small pots on for a vertical wall
For more inspiration take a look here.
Bill Mollison created the spiral garden design inspired by nature and with the intention of keeping things as energy efficient as possible (have a read about permaculture generally a fantastic concept and widely used in gardening). The garden is planted so that herbs that require more drainage and less water are planted on top and those that prefer more wet soil are placed down the bottom. These are a form of vertical garden in the ground (rather than a wall garden up). They are relatively compact structures in the garden that allow a lot of plants to be in a smaller space and can be made using many items such as lovely old bricks, rocks, etc. These look great but also serve a more practical purpose in that they warm up during the day absorbing head and provide insulation for the garden during the cooler hours. The set up also provides microclimates where, as all the plants are not at the same level, there are great growing conditions that are varied and loved by different plants – shady, sunny, etc. Use companion planting to place your herbs in a spot they’ll flourish. Remember it’s important to also consider the soil, positioning, and keeping your herbs fed.
Spiral garden inspiration
- 15 benefits of a herb spiral garden and a 4-step guide on how to build one (The MicroGardener)
- The magic of constructing a herb spiral and why everyone with a suburban lawn should do it (Permaculture News)
“Will you grow with me?” – Companion Planting
Companion planting can also help you choose what will work best together – not only in terms of how well they can grow next to each other and even promote each other’s’ growth, but also what their needs are. For example:
- Keep herbs that like a lot of water close to neighbours that enjoy the same big drink; and make sure plants that prefer drier conditions (ie less water) are together.
- Spread crops out so that plants are neighbouring different plants rather than all the same in a row. Amongst other things, this looks great and aids in pest control.
An example of companion planting in a vegetable and herb garden (complete with ceramic chook!)
After completing a course on Permaculture at Northey Street City Farm I’ve found companion planting to be the way to go and thoroughly enjoyed doing it. There are some fantastic sites with much more detail than this very brief overview – check them out here: