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Herb Garden Ideas – Fun and Functional

Starting an herb garden? Try incorporating unique ideas like hanging planters, herb spirals, and themed herb beds (e.g. Italian, pollinator-friendly, favorite herb book). Fresh herbs add beauty and flavor to meals, and have many other uses, too.

herb and flower garden with bird bath
Herb garden idea – a mix of flowers, herbs, and water is a great combination to attract pollinators.

Herb Garden Ideas for Inside or Outside

First, let's take a look at different planting styles. Do you want to grow fresh herbs inside year round, or grow them in your outside garden space? Would you like herbs in pots on the patio, raised beds, or spread throughout the garden?

I reached out to our readers, and many of them shared photos of their herb gardens. I hope you enjoy them and get some fresh inspiration for your plantings.

Indoor Herb Garden Kits

These are a nice herb garden for beginners, as many of the kits come with everything you need to get started. A friend of mine said she's had good success with hydroponic gardening indoors. So far we've used soil, but I may have to give hydroponics a try.

AeroGarden Harvest with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit - Hydroponic Indoor Garden,

Hanging Herb Gardens

Lisa Lou took advantage of her large windows to create a hanging herb garden. She says, “We don’t have a greenhouse built yet, and zone 3/4 makes for a very short growing season. I did have to add two grow lights for winter.”

indoor hanging herb garden
Take advantage of a sunny window to create a hanging herb garden. Photo credit Lisa Lou.

Patio Herb Planters

Another great herb garden idea is container plantings on a patio or deck. This keeps the herbs close at hand, adds beauty, and may deter pests. (More information on that below.)

Cassidy Botrell shares, “This is a planter box on our deck. Last summer we grew a large supply of basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary.”

Herb planter box on deck
This planter box is decorative and provides a variety of herbs. Photo credit Cassidy Botrell.

You can mix in flowers, furniture, and artwork to create focal points and gathering areas on your deck. Sandra Russell shared this welcoming corner of her deck that combines plantings and a seating area. Wouldn't this be a great spot for morning coffee?

patio herb garden with "cascading" planter
Sandra Russell combines herbs and flowers for this cozy seating area.

Vertical Herb Gardens – Patio or Indoors

To go vertical with your herb garden, you can either use taller containers, or mix plants of different heights. The fragrances of herbs and flowers often blend well together, and they look lovely in plantings.

Jessica Ball Sharma shared her patio planter, which features plants of several different heights.

patio herb planter with plants of different heights

The Greenstalk vertical garden comes in 3, 5, and 7 tier models. You fill the top with water, and it evenly feeds through the entire planter. (No need to water individual pots.) With six planting spots per tier, it's easy to mix herbs, flowers, and greens.

Learn more about Greenstalk planters here. Use discount code “commonsense10” at checkout for 10% off your purchase.

Greenstalk vertical garden with herbs and greens
Greenstalk vertical garden planter with herbs and greens

Vertical Herb Gardens – In the Main Garden

Jeff Knox has a green thumb and a flare for creativity that are clearly demonstrated in his vertical herb garden. I love his use of mixed older containers that might otherwise be discarded.

vertical herb garden with containers
Jeff Knox's vertical herb garden
vertical herb garden with assorted galvanized containers
Jeff Knox's vertical herb garden

Raised Beds

Raised beds work well for different styles of gardening, from kitchen herb gardens to more formal plantings. You choice of plants and how you maintain them will set the tone for your garden.

Emily Wolfe said she was inspired by Practical Magic when designing her raised bed herb gardens.

raised bed herb gardens
Emily Wolfe's raised bed herb garden

“I have a mix of medicinal herbs, edible herbs, and garden flowers. Most are perennial such as comfrey, St John's wort, valerian, tarragon, rue, wormwood, apothecary rose, thyme, hyssop, strawberries, horseradish, etc… There's lots of oregano (I think I have 7 different kinds) because it's my favorite herb!

raised bed herb garden
Emily Wolfe's raised bed herb gardens

Annual herbs include calendula, basil, chamomile, rosemary, and spots to try new things. Flowers include iris, hollyhocks, and poppies tucked in between herbs along the fences. Always subject to change as I add new things.”

Herb Spirals

Herb spirals make an interesting focal point in the yard, and offer different growing conditions around the spiral. The top tends to be warmer and drier, while the lower tiers may be more moist and cool.

Jessica Nellen shared, “My herb spiral overtaken by self-seeded dill! I also have chives, sage, calendula and fill in with annual herbs like basil, nasturtium and parsley. Going to get some chamomile in there this year, I think.”

herb spiral
Jessica Nellen's herb spiral

What Herbs Should I Plant?

When you're ready to start an herb garden, you need to decide which herbs to grow. First, decide if you want to grow herbs for culinary use, medicinal use or both.

Many common culinary herbs, such as dill, parsley, and cilantro, are easy to grow. They can be tucked in almost anywhere in the garden or grown in pots. (These three herbs also have medicinal properties, just FYI.)

pallet vertical herb garden
This pallet planter features common culinary herbs.

If you have a specific health condition, you can research to find plants that may be helpful. Then figure out what growing conditions the plant needs.

You can find seeds online or at almost any place they sell garden seeds. You can check out my favorite seeds sources in this post. All of my favorites sell some herbs for culinary and medicinal use. Pinetree Garden seeds also carries herbs for dying fabric and yarn.

Herbs as Companion Plants

Strong scented herbs often make wonderful companion plants in the garden. They can deter pests, offer habitat for beneficial insects and in some cases increase the essential oil content of the plants.

See “Companion Planting for the Garden (The Easy Way)” for more information.

companion planting with flowers and vegetables
This mixed companion planting with flowers and vegetables features marigolds, alyssum. amaranth, and broccoli

Perennials herbs may work well along edges of vegetable garden beds or in other permanent beds. Plant herbs that spread rapidly where you can mow around them or inside a container. (I love how mint smells when it's mowed.) Use a large pot sunk into the ground to keep a spreading plant contained in a bed.

Chamomile and borage readily reseed, so it's best to deadhead or isolate unless you don't mind them taking over.

Themed Herb Garden Ideas

I love the color and scents that herb add to my garden. I'm also enjoying experimenting with them for cooking, healing, and pest control. If you're not sure which herbs to plant, you may want to pick a “theme” to inspire your herb selection.

Here are some herb garden ideas featuring different planting themes.

Medicinal Herb Garden

As mentioned above, you can pick herbs for specific conditions, or you can grow those that work for many common ailments.

See “11 Best Medicinal Herbs to Grow (Herb Garden & Wildcrafted)” for more information.

best medicinal herb to grow - oregano

Pest Repellent Herb Garden

You can add herbs around your garden or patio to deter pests, or harvest them to make spray on repellents. See “Natural Mosquito Repellents” to learn more and get recipes.

2 natural mosquito repellent recipes, plus the best herbs for mosquito control, 4 reasons some people get bit more than others, and tips to get rid of mosquitoes.

Culinary Herb Garden

Fresh herbs are pricey at the store, but many are easy to grow in the garden or containers. You can also tailor your selections to your favorite cuisine, like an Italian herb collection or an Asian herb collection.

Try to keep your culinary herbs relatively close to the kitchen, or near on entrance. That way you're more likely to see them. It's a helpful reminder to use what's available.

herb garden near building
Debbie Bakos shares her cozy herb garden protected by the nearby building

Chicken Herb Garden

Chickens enjoy snacking on a variety of herbs, both fresh and dry. Herbs are also good for adding to nest boxes and bedding to reduce pests.

Some good herbs for chickens include oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, mint, dill, sage, marjoram, lavender, calendula, comfrey, cilantro, garlic, and tarragon.

If you want to allow chickens directly in the herb garden, make sure the plants are well established first. Vigorous herbs like mint and oregano will hold up well to chicken browsing.

chicken herb garden
Jen Wilson shares her “chicken friendly herb garden

Pollinator Friendly Herb Gardens

I have yet to see a flowering herb that isn't attractive to at least one type of pollinator. Mixing herbs and other flowering plants creates a pollinator buffet.

Bees like flowers that make good landing platforms or tubular flowers with nectar at the base. A variety of flowers will provide food for more of the season.

See “5 Tips for a Bee Friendly Yard” for more information.

5 tips for a bee friendly yard - bumble bee on sunflower

Book Themed Herb Gardens

Some book “super fans” may enjoy growing the herbs featured in their favorite fiction books. Arapahoe Library suggests the following herbal fiction:

  • Tidelands
  • Outlander
  • The Midwife's Apprentice
  • Year of Wonders
  • An Appetite for Violets
  • The Apothecary's Daughter

The Bible features edible and medicinal herbs. Jean Auel's books, such as Clan of the Cave Bear and Valley of the Horses, also feature medicinal herbs.

Herbs for Outland fans garden
Herbs for Outlander Fans shares their garden with basil, echinacea, lemon basil, dill. In back would be moringa, lemon verbena, purple basil, tulsi, etc.

For the younger set, the Herb Fairies series by Kimberly Gallagher teaches beginning herbalism. The herbs in the series include chickweed, violet, lemon balm, plantain, chamomile, calendula, marshmallow, burdock, elder, pine, rose, cinnamon, and dandelion.

I hope you enjoy growing herbs in your garden, too. Let me know if you have any great resources you'd like to recommend.

text at top "herb garden ideas" with calendula flowers below
Calendula is a wonderful soothing herb.

Originally published 2012, updated 2023.

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  1. Happy to recommend Strictly Medicinals Herbs, where organic herbs are grown for their catalog of live plants, seeds and herb cultivation references. This is a family business started by Richo Cheche, who spent his early years traveling internationally, including to Africa, Asia and the Middle East to collect obscure herb cuttings and seeds.

    The family reliably tests the seeds for a high germination rate, and Richo has a strong reputation among herbalists for his ability to successfully cultivate herbs that are notoriously difficult to get stared or just plain grow to harvest. He has published excellent planting guides for for challenging herbs. His seeds and live plants are of very high quality. Their are gift assortments of seeds for kids, kitchen, strewing and other themed collections. He also offers very high quality, sturdy accessories for herbalists and seed savers.

  2. Very interested in the herbal information. Used to go to a herbalist doctor who has now passed on. She was like magic

  3. I have herbs tucked in under fruit trees, annual ones scattered throughout the vegetable garden that self-sow now, and in a small herb garden close to the house that runs down the side of the back patio. I grow culinary and medicinal herbs, gather and dry them in the summer for use in the winter. I make my own chili and taco seasoning using frozen pureed ancho pepper, garlic that I’ve peeled and covered with vinegar and kept in the refrigerator, oregano and cumin that I’ve dried and stored in jars. Same for Italian seasoning from oregano, fennel, garlic, basil and onion.