How to Start a Herb Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

Do you want to know how to start a herb garden? Do you want beautiful sprigs of aromatic goodness to grace your Sunday roast, barbeque platter, or add a zing to your mojito?

If so, then I think I can help! We all love the idea of having fresh herbs outside our back door, ready for us to pick and use.

How to Start a Herb Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

How Easy it is to Grow a Herb Garden in My Backyard?

How Easy it is to Grow a Herb Garden in My Backyard

In reality, your options are more likely a dried version in a bottle or a sad sprig stuck to the back of your refrigerator. We have all been there, don’t worry.

But I am here to let you know you can easily grow your fresh herbs at home, even if you don’t have the greenest thumb.

Growing herbs is like planning a summer vacation – you want sun, sand, and water! Add a few friends, a rustic retreat, or effortless luxury and you have the makings of a great time.

The same goes when starting a herb garden. They need good soil, loads of sunshine, and adequate water. Plant the right ones together, either from seed or with seedlings and there you have it – the makings of a fabulous herb garden.

What to Prep and Plan for Growing an Outdoor Herb Garden

If you have vacation time coming up, you won’t take a spur-of-the-moment trip. You will do a bit of planning. You will decide where you want to go, book a hotel or Airbnb and make an itinerary. 

Planning a herb garden works the same way. Use the 3-S formula (Sunshine, Soil, and Style) before starting your herb garden.

Sunshine

sunshine

Most herbs are originally from the Mediterranean and likes a sunny spot.

Have a look at your garden over a few days and pick a place that gets 6-8 hours of good sunlight. Whether you are planting directly into the ground or into pots, sunlight is going to be important.

Soil

soil

Once you have chosen the right area, you need to have a look at the soil. Now I know this is not the most exciting thing to do, but it will be worth it when you have luscious mint leaves for your mojito. 

Most herbs like well-draining, loam soil. If your garden soil is dense and compacts easily, then you can add some compost that is suitable for herbs or go for a pot or raised bed in rows option. Even if your soil is good, it won’t hurt to dig through some compost in the top 10 inches.

Style

herb garden style

Have some fun here! Decide what style of herb garden you want. Is it practical with clean lines and symmetrical pavers? Or maybe a French potager garden with its romantic mix of flowers and food? 

As long as your herbs have enough space to flourish, you can experiment with the design and create a beautiful space that you love.

What Herbs to Plant When Starting a Herb Garden?

OK, so you have planned your holiday and now the time has come for you to kick back and relax. Or maybe you like a more active vacation filled with outdoor adventures?

Planting up your herb garden can be fun and easy or a bit more work, depending on how you like to do things. 

You could easily pop round to your garden center and choose established plants or seedlings for your garden. Or you could be bold and try your hand at seed germination. 

As a beginner, I would highly recommend going the seedling route. You have a higher chance of success and instant gratification seeing all your plant babies nestled in their fresh garden bed.

There are 6 herbs that every newbie herb gardener needs to plant that will have you covered for all your cocktail and culinary needs. It can seem daunting, and you will make some mistakes along the way. But these herbs are very forgiving and will have you delving into the world of herbs with confidence.

1. Rosemary

Rosemary

You won’t find a herb hardier than this one. Rosemary is an evergreen plant that looks good year-round.

The flavorful spears are ideal for a lamb roast and make great veggie skewers for the barbeque. They also add a depth of flavor to your Gin and Tonic along with some grapefruit segments.

Rosemary doesn’t love cold temperatures so if you have harsh winters then consider popping this one in a sheltered spot or in a pot. They prefer drier soil conditions so you don’t have to stress if you forget to water it!

The shrubs can get quite large so make sure you give them some room to grow. Rosemary also loves a trim, so the more you use it, the better it grows.

2. Spearmint

spearmint

Spearmint is definitely one of the easiest herbs to grow for beginners. Its fresh taste is a must in your poolside mojitos and adds a nice zing to summer salads. 

Spearmint likes moist soil and is happy with a bit of afternoon shade. It is a plant that can take over your garden so if you don’t want a massive spearmint patch, then consider planting it in a plastic pot directly into the garden bed.

3. Thyme

thyme

Thyme is a herb that thrives on neglect, and its flavor actually improves if you ignore it. Used to growing on rocky outcrops in the Mediterranean, it prefers hot and dry conditions.

This is a versatile herb in the kitchen and is great in soups, stews, roasts, and casseroles. Thyme also makes a delightful addition to a cocktail or a glass of iced water with lemon.

4. Basil

basil

One of the most forgiving herbs for your garden, basil is a quick-growing plant that you will love. It makes a delicious pesto and adds a fresh flavor to iced tea. If you want something boozy, then use it in a cocktail with vodka, lime, and cucumber.

Basil likes rich, moist soil, and morning sun so will make a great companion planting option with your spearmint.

5. Flat-Leaf Parsley

flat-leaf parsley

Also known as Italian parsley, this plant has a more robust flavor than the curly-leafed version. Packed full of nutrients it can pull all the flavors of a dish together.

Although it likes good sun and moist soil, it can easily adapt to some shade and drier spells. This makes parsley a wonderfully adaptable plant in your herb garden.

6. Oregano

oregano

Like spearmint, oregano is a herb that can take over your herb garden but you won’t be sad about it. Its pungent aroma and delicious flavor will be a hit on your next pizza night. It is a versatile herb that pairs well with almost everything and its flavor intensifies with a full day in the sun.

It doesn’t like to have wet feet so only water it when the soil is dry to the touch, but otherwise, it isn’t a fussy plant which makes it a great beginner option. 

Steps on How to Grow a Herb Garden

Steps on How to Grow a Herb Garden

Once you’ve prepared all you need to start the herb garden in your chosen pots or containers, you can start making the garden.

Here are the steps from start to finish on growing your herbs:

Step 1: Plant your herbs.

Step 2: Water your herbs after planting, but wait about a week to start fertilizing them.

Step 3: After the first week of watering, you can start fertilizing then if you want or just wait for the leaves to grow out before doing it again.

Step 4: Repeat step three as necessary until all your herbs are ready to harvest.

What You Need to Know Before Starting A Herb Garden in Pots

Before you start a herb garden in pots, ask yourself some questions. Let’s go through the most common (and important) questions and their answers below to help you get started on growing a herb garden in pots.

How many plants do you want?

Once you know how much room you have available, how big each pot would need to be and how many plants you can fit into the space available, you can choose how to arrange everything.

How big should each container be?

It doesn’t matter how many plants you want or how big the containers are as long as your herbs have enough room to grow and there is space between them so the air can circulate and help prevent diseases from setting in.

What kind of soil should you use?

What kind of soil should you use

The soil you use will determine how well your plants grow. Herbs prefer to have their roots in something that drains quickly and is not very rich, so regular potting or garden soil may be too heavy for them.

If you plan on mixing anything else into the soil, do it at least one month before you plant your herbs.

This will give the added nutrients time to break down before your plants get to them, so they won’t cause any problems with how well your plants grow.

Make sure what you add is something that doesn’t have chemicals or fertilizers in it though, because you don’t want to risk your plants getting sick and not growing how you want them to.

How much sun will each container get?

Herbs need about 6 hours of full sun per day in order to grow well, so if you are growing them in pots, make sure they get at least that much.

If they don’t get enough sun they will be small and yellowish instead of green and healthy-looking.

If the container your herbs are growing in will be mostly in the shade most of the day, make sure to put a reflector behind it to bounce some sunlight back on them.

Unless your herb garden is very large and has several containers, you may have a hard time keeping a plant alive that doesn’t get enough sun.

Do you want to mix in anything else to your soil, like compost or fertilizer?

You can choose to mix in some compost with the soil in order to keep it lighter, but this might mean having to water your herbs more often.

What herbs do you want to plant and how many?

What herbs do you want to plant and how many

The last thing you need to think about before getting started is how much each herb will cost. Herbs are expensive when bought in the store, so if you can find seeds or plants for free it would be a good idea.

You also want to look into how likely your herbs are to survive in containers and how fast they grow when they do. This way you know how often you will need to water and how much your plants will be producing.

Once you have all of this figured out and decided, it’s time to get started!

How to Start a Herb Garden in Pots

How to Start a Herb Garden in Pots

You know how it’s easy to start a garden in the ground, but how do you go about starting one in pots?

Well, first of all, there are some things you need to consider before getting started.

Tips on How to Start a Herb Garden in Pots

Here are some quick and easy tips when starting your herb garden:

  • Get rid of any pests living in your soil before you plant anything.
  • Use organic mulch if needed for added nutrients and weed control.
  • Prepare your containers or beds so they get enough sun.
  • Mix compost into the soil to make it lighter.
  • Fill your pots or beds with a mixture of organic soil and sand.
  • Keep in mind how much sunlight your herbs will need, so they don’t die from lack of sun exposure.
  • Find seeds or plants for free online and at local gardening centers.
  • If your herb garden is large, you may need to mix fertilizers or compost into your soil in order for them to grow how well you want them.
  • Choose how much each plant will cost and how often they grow if necessary.
  • Plant any herbs you want, water them once a week, and fertilize them when needed until you’re ready to harvest.

Final Thoughts

herb garden

With a bit of planning, you can have a selection of fresh herbs at your fingertips for any occasion. Growing herbs is extremely rewarding and you will love being able to add fragrant sprigs to your favorite summer meals.

If you aren’t planning a vacation soon, then you can enjoy a cocktail with fresh mint, basil, or rosemary and be transported to a sandy beach at sunset.

Starting a herb garden can be fun and simple, so take a walk outside, pick a spot, and get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of soil should be used for growing herbs in containers or pots

It’s best to use a mixture of organic soil and sand in order to get the best results. This will ensure that you don’t over-water your plants and cause them to die or grow how you want them to.

What types of herbs thrive well in containers?

Herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley, and savory grow well in containers.

How long does it take for herbs to grow from seeds before harvesting?

It should take about three weeks for your herbs to start sprouting from the ground or dirt they are planted in.  After this point, you can fertilize and then wait for the leaves to grow in size and how you want them.

How often do I water my herbs during growth?

You will need to water your plants three times a week or more if it doesn’t rain enough.  If you fertilize your herbs, be sure they get about one cup of water every time you feed them.

How do I keep my plants from becoming infested with bugs/insects that might ruin them all over again (like slugs)?

There are many pests that can ruin plants, but the best way to avoid these is by using organic mulch with your plants. This will help you keep most of your bugs away from your herbs.

How do I know how much my plants need to be fertilized?

If you want to make sure how often your plant needs to be fertilized, just try using the index on the side of how mature your plant is.

For example: Young leaves need to be fertilized more than older ones.

What is the best way to harvest?

The best way to start harvesting is at the base of where your plant has been growing and how often it has been growing.

If you are harvesting how often your plant is growing, then just pick how much of your herb you want before it becomes too big to handle.

When is it time for me to harvest my herbs?

It’s best to harvest your herbs before the sun gets too hot. You can do this by pulling how many leaves you want from how often your plant has been growing so far.

The trick to harvesting is to make sure they can produce more leaves and not die out completely by the end of the season.