How To Grow Your Own Herb Garden

Contributing Writer, Hilary Smith

For many people, growing herbs can be intimidating. Thankfully, growing your own herb garden is relatively simple and is a great way to add pops of flavor and nutrition to your food without purchasing expensive fresh herbs from the grocery store. With a little planning and knowledge, anyone can grow an organic herb garden with relative ease.

To help you on this journey, we have created the following guide on how to grow your own herb garden:

Start with the basics.

Any garden needs adequate sunlight, access to water, and good soil. Choose a well lit area that gets plenty of sun for herbs. Most herbs love sunlight and need 6 to 8 hours of sun everyday. Next, ensure the soil is rich and has proper drainage by adding compost and other organic matter, like peat moss, to increase yields. If using containers, be extra vigilant about drainage and adequate watering.

Plan enough space.

Many herbs branch out.  If you want to use the space year after year, plan accordingly. One mistake many people make when planting herbs is to cram too many plants into a small section of garden, so plan about 1 to 4 feet in diameter for each plant. Listed below are some general guidelines:

  • 3 to 4 feet- rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, marjoram
  • 2 feet- basil, thyme, tarragon, savory
  • 1 foot- cilantro, chives, dill, parsley

Keep it nearby.

One of the perks to growing your own herb garden is access to fresh cuttings and they can be very beautiful, so don’t hide your efforts. Try to keep herb gardens relatively close to the house to prevent traipsing across the yard to snip a few leaves.

Choose easy to grow herbs.

Like any garden, some herbs are easier to grow than others. Sure, it depends on your growing zone, soil type, and location. However, some herbs thrive better than others with little attention. For a beginner herb garden, we recommend basil, cilantro, sage, chamomile, dill, and mint. These plants can be started with relative ease from seed or you can purchase potted plants from your favorite greenhouse. If you have the time and desire, you can broaden your herb garden offerings with lavender, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs require a little more TLC, but do well for most beginners. Just a reminder, though, if you want organic produce, you will need to buy organic certified seed or starters.

Carefully add plants to the soil.

Many herbs come from bedding plants or roots, so we need to treat them gently. Space the plants so they have enough room to spread and dig the initial hole about two times the size of the root system so they can grow. Also, consider placing your taller herbs, like sage or dill, toward the back of your garden to keep them from shading the smaller herbs like thyme.

Label your plants.

It’s important for freshly planted herbs to be labeled so you can easily identify them later and keep track of what plants are thriving. This will save you from some unfortunate cooking mishaps down the road. You can purchase plant markers or make some from old spoons to add a little whimsy to the space.

Just a word about mint.

While there is nothing better than fresh mint in your lemonade or the smell of dried mint on an autumn breeze, mint is notorious for spreading and taking over small spaces. If you plant this herb, make sure to leave plenty of room for it to grow or consider planting it in a separate location or a container.

Make sure you water regularly.

Just like any new garden, you will want to give your new plants a good drink of water immediately after planting. They will require frequent waterings until well established and then, depending on the weather, they will need about an inch of water every week during your growing season.


Knowing when to harvest your herbs is vital so you get the best flavor. A good rule of thumb is to harvest the leaves before the plant seeds. Simply cut about ⅓ of the branches near a leaf intersection when a plant reaches about 6 to 8 inches tall. This will ensure your herbs keep producing until a hard freeze. As your plants mature, you will gain a better idea of when and how to harvest.

Preparing for winter.

Many herbs will go dormant or drop seeds so they will come back next year. At the end of the season, allow your herbs to seed and then you can trim back the dried foliage. For sensitive plants like lavender, consider covering the garden with straw or leaves for an extra layer of insulation against freezing winter weather.

What tips can you share for growing your own herb garden?

Be sure to check out my "Bee Kind" nature based character development unit and my ebooks as well: A Wife's Guide to Studying ProverbsTopical Devotions for Pregnancy and Early Potty Teaching. Or, if you're looking for a way to get 30 raw fruits and vegetables in your diet every day, contact me here

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