Herb garden ideas: 15 ways to grow herbs outdoors and in

Take your pick from these herb garden ideas and you'll always have a fragrant collection of culinary delights to choose from

herb garden ideas
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You can never have enough herb garden ideas in your plot, whether that's a collection of small pots grouped together or a large planter brimming with your pick of favorites. As well as a pretty display and gorgeous scent it means you will also have a daily supply of fresh herbs to hand for cooking with.

Once you get your herb garden up and running you will end up with a collection that will last for years. As well as the classics such as rosemary, parsley and thyme, try adding more unusual herbs to the mix like varieties of scented leaf sages such as orange and lemon, and chocolate or ginger mint.

Flowering and aromatic herbs are a magnet for pollinating insects too which will benefit your garden all round, especially if you're growing vegetables.

If space is tight, experiment with arranging your herb collection vertically or in hanging containers to make the most of your growing potential. It also makes your kitchen garden ideas more practical as everything will be in one place. 

It's a great up-cycling opportunity too, especially if you like the idea of growing everything in one big container. 

Get growing with our inspiring herb garden ideas

You'll never be short of fresh produce to add to your favorite dishes with our herb garden ideas. Whether you have a large backyard, a small patio or just a kitchen windowsill, there are plenty of ways to learn how to create a herb garden in your space. 

1. Fill a hanging basket

cream hanging basket filled with herbs

Hanging baskets are a great way to create additional growing space for herbs

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Hanging basket ideas work well in any space and are a particularly good for balconies and terraces where there tends to be an expanse of wall to hang things from but not so much floor space. 

A traditional style of hanging basket will hold enough compost for you to grow a good collection of herbs. This one has a lovely mix of parsley, marjoram, sage, thyme and mint to cover all your basic herb requirements. 

It's important to keep the compost moist and you will need to water every day in hot weather. But make sure the soil does not become waterlogged so remember to add slits to the plastic liner so excess water can drain out. That way your hanging herbs will be happy with their growing space.

If you want herbs that cascade over the edges of the basket choose trailing forms such as thyme, tarragon, oregano and sage.

2. Plant a vertical herb garden

pocket wall planter filled with herbs and hanging on a bright yellow wall

Add interest to garden walls with a vertical garden

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If your growing area is limited, it's worth considering vertical garden ideas so you don't take up too much of your precious ground space.

Herbs are a good choice for vertical planting as they like it dry so you don't need to water them as much as flowers and vegetables. Plants that need more water are also likely to do better near the base of the planter, where they can receive extra run-off from the plants above.

The best herbs to grow in a vertical planter tend to be smaller plants with a minimal root system, since they weigh less and require less soil. But it very much depends on the size of your vertical garden. Pallet garden wall ideas can also be a brilliant option as they will give you more space for your herb garden, allowing you to grow larger plants.

Take care with some herbs. If you're learning how to grow mint, for example, bear in mind that it can take over so grow it in a separate pocket planter to avoid it becoming invasive. 

3. Make an easy trellis display

pots of herbs hanging on a metal garden trellis

Attach pots to a trellis for a simple garden feature

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Everyone needs some modern trellis ideas for gardens to instantly max up their growing space. When it comes to herb garden ideas it's one of the easiest options around.

Trellis is available with varying slat sizes and gap widths allowing you to choose the best arrangement for your own hanging herb garden. 

There's now a huge choice of painted slatted panels to pick from that introduce color and a modern style to any garden or outdoor space. Then all you need to do is choose some pots in complementary colours to hang your herbs.

Quick to put up and creating a good looking display once done, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. You could even replicate this look indoors for an interesting and practical addition to your kitchen.

4. Turn a wine box into a planter

upcycled wooden wine box used as a herb planter

Wooden crates and boxes are ideal herb planters

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Traditional French wooden wine boxes are ideal for using in your container gardening ideas and vintage-style ones are widely available online. Durable as well as looking decorative, they are roomy enough for planting up a good selection of herbs.

You will need to line the box with sturdy plastic, such as an old compost bag, and include drainage holes so the soil is free draining and your herb garden doesn't become waterlogged. Fill with a good quality peat-free, organic multi-purpose compost and get planting your herbs.

If you want to include mint be sure to plant it in its own separate pot which you position in the box first then fill in with compost around it for planting the rest of your herbs. This will stop the mint becoming invasive and taking over.

5. Choose a spiral herb garden

mini spiral herb garden made with gabion walls

Build a bespoke herb garden for a unique look in your plot

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Choose a tapering herb spiral garden for a compact space saving design that's both stylish and practical. It's a different take on vertical growing and one of the best herb garden ideas around.

A herb spiral is basically a small herb garden. The top planting area gets full sun and has better drainage, so herbs that like exposure to the sun and good drainage are planted there. The bottom area of the spiral is more suitable for herbs that need moist soil and less sun. The spiral herb garden gives you several zones with different soil characteristics and sun exposure to suit all your herb needs.

The structure is typically made of natural stone garden walls or bricks. Gabion walls work really well and add a contemporary touch, such as in the spiral herb garden shown here. 

6. Grow herbs in raised beds

raised garden bed planted with herbs

Herbs make a great addition to raised beds in a veg patch

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Herbs are some of the best plants to grow in raised garden beds as you can pack them in tightly together to get the biggest harvests. Oregano and thyme can grow in as little as 6in (15cm) of soil but in general aiming for around 12in (30cm) should cover it.

You don't need lots of space to include a raised bed either. Even a small patio area can accommodate a raised bed and they can be easier to look after than having lots of herbs scattered around in different pots. When working out the dimensions, bear in mind you should be able to get to the centre of the raised bed from each side without having to tread on your crops.

If you're looking to build raised beds from wood you can often find everything you need in building skips. Scaffolding boards are ideal. Use several coats of non-toxic paint if you want to smarten them up.

If you love this idea, find out the best vegetables to grow in raised beds too.

7. Make a hanging planter

wooden box turned into a hanging planter for herbs

Create interest up high with an upcycled planter

(Image credit: Alamy)

This is a different take on our earlier idea to turn a wine box into a planter, but this time round you simply attach sections of rope so you can hang it up. It's a great space-saving idea for indoors and out if you're looking for compact herb garden ideas.

It's also nice to try your hand at adding a stencilled design such as a 'herbs' label. There's a wide range of stencils for wood (available at Etsy) to choose from so you can make your hanging herb planter unique.

8. Set up a herb plant theatre

herb garden plant theatre

Make a feature of your herb garden by grouping pots together

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A good herb garden is all about easy access and easy maintenance. Choose a plant theatre and position it just outside your kitchen door. Then rack up your herb plants in tiers and you can both keep an eye on them and pick them as and when you need them. What could be better for a low maintenance garden idea than that? 

A plant theatre is a great way of showing off your herb collection, as well as any other collections of plants such as succulents or spring bulbs. Raising your plants on shelves lets you stage them and add some drama so it's one of our favourite herb garden ideas. You can also appreciate their charms better as they will be at eye level.

9. Plant up a metal bucket

metal bucket planted up with herbs

A simple bucket can be all you need for a mini herb garden

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Galvanized metal containers are a good choice for herb gardens and choosing a bucket makes life easy as it's portable so you can move it from kitchen door to outdoor cocktail bar or barbecue area for handy garnishes as needed.

Check which herbs are happy being planted in the same garden planter. A mix of thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, chives and basil will work well. Try interspersing with some salad leaves too for variety.

10. Repurpose an old chest

old chest of drawers turned into a unique herb planter

Plant up an old chest of drawers for a unique herb garden

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There is nothing we like more than upcycling a vintage chest to turn it into a stylish planter. Bric a brac and junk shops are great place to search for pieces that can be planted up for one of the best herb garden ideas that's very 'of the moment'.

The latest upcycling look is giving old chests and cupboards a new lease of life. It’s a big trend on Instagram and Pinterest, where you’ll find plenty of inspiration if you’re searching for cheap garden ideas and want to take your upcycling game to the next level. 

The more vintage the finish is the better if you want to show off your plants in a quirky way. If the wood looks 'distressed' that ticks the box.

11. Make a pallet planter

old wooden pallet turned into a wall-mounted herb garden

A pallet wall planter is a great DIY option

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Repurposing pallets into planters has never been more popular, and is just one of the many pallet furniture ideas happening in a garden near you if not your own already.

To make a DIY pallet herb garden, find a pallet that is in good condition and hasn't been painted or treated in any way as you're going to be growing food crops in it so don't want to take any chances. You can add a couple of coats of timber stain to enhance the look of it if you like.

Create planting 'troughs' or 'pockets' then line each one with thick black plastic. Old compost bags are ideal for this. Make sure you include drainage holes, then fill with good quality compost and your choice of herb plants. It's really as easy as that!

12. Get creative with shelving

wooden stepladder used to display a collection of herbs in pots

Use planters made from the same material for added impact

(Image credit: Westend61/GettyImages)

If you don't want to splash out to set up a herb plant theatre by buying one, try repurposing an old wooden stepladder to create an eye-catching addition to the garden. It's amazing how many herbs you can cram on to one!

13. Make a geometric herb garden

old wheel used to form the planting area for a mini herb garden

This design would make a striking centerpiece in any plot

(Image credit: Alamy)

Show off the beauty of herbs with a more formal design in your potager garden. Since ancient times herb gardens have been laid out in geometric patterns and this parterre style suits small urban gardens equally well. It's a great choice if you're looking for garden design ideas and want to include herbs.

The parterre idea is a formal, symmetrical pattern with low evergreen boundaries of plants such as trimmed box. In this alternative take on the design, the spaces in between the spokes of this wagon wheel are filled with herbs to create a neat planting pattern. It takes all the headache out of the design process and is one of the easiest herb garden ideas to get a geometric layout.

Fill the framework generously, packing each section with different foliage textures, colors or growing habits. Trim frequently to keep plants looking neat and don't forget to add the trimmings to the salad bowl or cooking pot.

14. Recycle tin cans creatively

rosemary planted in tin cans indoors

A kitchen windowsill is perfect for growing a selection of herbs

(Image credit: Albina Yalunina/GettyImages)

Whether you're making an indoor herb garden or an outdoor one tin cans are really useful. Peel off the labels and naked tin cans look great and even better they all match for a co-ordinated look. Add some of the best herbs to grow indoors and then line up rows of tins on the windowsill for a stylish display. 

Sometimes it's worth asking at cafes and restaurants to see if they have any super-sized olive oil or tomato cans going spare as these come with pretty designs on them and make great planters.

Food cans are the best to upcycle into planters as they have a coating inside to stop them rusting. However, if they're not painted or varnished and left out in the rain then they might rust on the outside.

Drill holes in the bottom of the cans to ensure good drainage but you can probably get away with this step as long as you don’t overwater the plants. Instead add a layer of grit in the base before adding the compost.

As one of the easiest herbs around, this is a good option for growing rosemary. The string bows add a special little detail.

15. Look out for useful materials

metal stand with pots of herbs attached to it

Go for modern materials for a sleek finish

(Image credit: Naomi Rahim/GettyImages)

Sections of old iron or copper pipework or rods from metal bed frames make great frames to hang a collection of herb pots from. They can be reconfigured to come up with a framework design that suits your purposes then spray painted for a sleek finish or left as they are for a more industrial look. 

It's such a simple idea but it looks so effective! When it comes to herb garden ideas the best thing is to use your imagination and come up with something that suits your style. 

A design like this could also be a stylish way to zone an open-plan space in your home. An indoor garden planted up with lots of useful and tasty herbs definitely gets our vote. 

What herbs can be grown together?

Group Mediterranean sun-loving herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary and oregano together as they all like the same growing conditions. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot and make sure the soil is gritty and free draining so the roots of the plants are not waterlogged.

Put shade loving herbs like mint, dill, parsley and chives together. These herbs don't like the soil to dry out so tend to prefer shadier conditions. 

Mint should always be grown in its own container, even if it's in the ground, as it's a prolific grower so can smother other herbs. By keeping it contained you will give a helping hand to your other herbs.

For an easy place to start, find out how to plant a herb pot with our simple step-by-step guide.

herb planter made from pallet wood

(Image credit: Alamy)

How do you start a herb garden for beginners?

Herbs are so much easier to grow than many other plants, demanding little but giving so much in return. Anyone can do it, whatever the size of your outdoor space.

Start off by growing herbs on a small scale with a collection of pots on the windowsill or include them in your patio gardening ideas

Herbs take up much less time and space than vegetables, can be picked pretty constantly throughout the year, and and rarely need watering because so many of them thrive in hot, dry conditions. 

Look at the space you have available and decide on the herbs you are most likely to use. If you have just a few pots on a sunny patio, your choice of herbs will differ from someone planning a larger herb garden. 

Some of the easiest herbs to grow include rosemary, thyme, sage, chives and basil if you want a good starting place. 

Our guides on how to grow thyme and how to grow basil are a great place to start if you want to include two of the best culinary herbs around.

variety of different herbs growing in pots

Herbs growing in pots can make for an attractive outdoor display

(Image credit: Alamy)

How do I make an outdoor herb garden?

If you have the space, do things on a larger scale with a separate herb garden, or by mixing in herbs with flowers and vegetables in the beds and garden borders.

Try planting a good herb selection among herbaceous plants in a mixed border. Tall architectural herbs like fennel work well at the back, while thyme, chives and parsley are best at the front of a border. Herbs like rosemary and bay can be clipped to add structure.

If you want to create a separate herb garden first draw up a plan. Remember herbs should always be planted near a garden path so they are easy to pick. You may like a natural design or something more formally laid out. Think about using small clipped box plants to create the structure if you want to go for a geometric design.

Thyme growing in a terracotta pot ready for harvesting

Thyme growing in a terracotta pot ready for harvesting

(Image credit: Minna Waring/Alamy)
Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines. 

Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress  - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.