I have a good sized vegetable garden at the very back of my 1-acre property where I grow all manner of edibles, but I don’t always want to trek more than ½ acre to harvest some herbs for dinner. So I created a kitchen herb garden off of my back patio — this is an area that we had previously constructed as a fire pit and surrounding garden, but I like the idea of adding small edibles in for interest and convenience. Now, all I have to do is step outside my back door, snip a few sprigs and I’m good to go!
You can create a kitchen herb garden in containers or in the ground, depending upon the amount of space you have and what kind of a look you are trying to achieve. I’m a fairly eclectic person and like mixing things up, so in the same garden where I have my kitchen herbs, I also have ornamental grasses, poppies, Knockout roses and flowering perennials.
Some quick tips
Choose a sunny location — herbs like up to 8 hours of full sun a day to thrive. Make sure your soil is well-drained — if you have rocky or clay soil, add some organic soil amendments in or simply use containers or raised beds with well-drained soil.
- Be careful with mint! Love mint (hello, mojitos and mint tea!) but I don’t love it taking over my entire garden. If you’re a mint fan like I am, plant it in a pot or give it its own bed.
- Don’t fuss too much — most herbs do not need any fertilizer and will do best if given deep but less frequent watering.
In my kitchen garden, I started with a Meyer lemon tree and a lime tree, both trained into standard trees. Then I added larger herbs like upright rosemary and lemon balm before adding smaller herbs like chives, basil, and lemon thyme. Above all, have fun, do a little experimenting and start out small if you’re an herb newbie — you can always expand later on once you’ve fallen in love with herbs as much as I have.
Great Herbs for a Small Kitchen Garden
Rosemary Lemon balm Lemongrass Basil
Lavender Oregano Parsley Chives
Thyme Lemon verbena Sage Cilantro
Jenny Peterson is an Austin, Texas-based garden designer with her own firm, J. Peterson Garden Design, as well as a writer, author and speaker. She specializes in designing, writing and speaking about gardens that enhance the quality of life, heal from the inside out and help to create balance and wellness.