HiddenFromTOCHow to create a raised bed herb garden

  1. Growing your own herbs is extremely rewarding, and if you’ve got limited space for planting, a raised bed garden will allow you to make the most of every square foot. 
  2. Raised beds offer a number of benefits for your plants, including improved growing conditions, better resistance to diseases and a better yield. 
  3. The best herbs to grow in a raised bed include parsley, oregano, basil, chives, dill, rosemary and mint. 

Instead of a traditional in-ground bed, many gardeners are now opting for a raised bed garden. These offer a range of benefits and are ideal for those with naturally poor soil or limited growing space. 

If you want to add some homegrown flavour to your meals, a raised bed herb garden is a great addition to your outdoor space. Plus, fresh herbs will bring a multitude of gorgeous aromas that can be appreciated whenever you leave your home. 

Not sure where to start? Here’s all you need to know about raised bed herb gardens. 

What are Raised Bed Gardens?

Raised beds can usually look like simple garden boxes, made from wood, concrete, metal, brick or plastic. 

Some raised beds have bases, while others don’t. Those without bases are more popular, as these allow the roots of your plants to dig deep into the soil.

They are a more permanent feature than a raised bed planter box, which can be moved around the garden if needed. 

Benefits of Raised Beds

Raised beds offer a huge number of advantages over traditional beds.

More Flexible Location

One of the best things about raised beds is that they can be placed almost anywhere. Those with a base can be moved around if needed, placed in a sunny spot then moved to a sheltered location if the weather turns. 

Raised planters can be used to cover eyesores or make the most of unused space. 

Better Space Efficiency

There’s no need to sacrifice freshly grown herbs just because you’ve only got a small garden! Raised beds are much more space efficient, allowing you to grow more in a smaller growing area. You could plant your herbs vertically or in tiers to optimise every square inch of space. 

Improved Growing Conditions

While most herbs are relatively easy to grow, you may still struggle if your garden has poor quality soil. You’re able to fill your raised bed with the best quality soil blend you can find, there’s no need to settle for the soil from your garden. 

Filling beds with good quality soil will help prevent disease and improve root health. As your herbs can be planted closer together, weeds will have less space to get in. Many people also line their raised beds, which means weeds are unable to grow up from underneath. 

More Comfortable Gardening

If your raised bed is tall enough, you should find that tending to your produce is a lot more comfortable. You won’t need to sit or kneel on the soil like you do with traditional beds. 

The Best Material for Raised Beds

Raised beds can be made from a variety of materials, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Wood is regularly used for raised beds. This is smart, fairly long lasting and affordable. Raw wood like logs, branches and sticks are sustainable and can be picked up for next to nothing. 

Pressure treated wood should be avoided if you are planning on growing edible produce. The chemicals used to pressure treat the wood are toxic, so stick to untreated wood if this is the material you want. 

Bricks are a good option if you like a rustic look and want to incorporate curves into the design of your raised beds. Bricks are maintenance-free and should last a very long time. 

Galvanised metal is also very popular. This won’t rust, and produces a charming industrial look. Galvanised metal raised beds can last up to 30 years or more, while they can also help maintain a consistent soil temperature. 

Concrete blocks are convenient and affordable, while smaller size blocks allow you to customise the dimensions of your garden beds. They can be used to create curved beds as well as those in straight lines, and beds at varying heights. 

The Right Location for a Raised Bed Herb Garden

 There’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting the right location for your raised bed herb garden.

The first is the amount of sunlight the area receives. Most herbs require at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day in order to thrive. If your herbs don’t receive enough sunlight, they will look leggy and tired – hardly the finishing touch you want to be adding to your meal!

Herb gardens are there to be used, so it’s also important that your raised bed garden is in a convenient spot. If you’re spending a rainy Sunday afternoon cooking a roast and you want to grab more rosemary, you’re unlikely to want to traipse to the far end of your garden! If possible, choose a site that’s near your kitchen so that you can get to it easily. 

Size and Depth 

The size of your raised beds will depend on how much space you have in your garden, as well as what you’re growing. 

You want to be able to access the middle of the bed without having to climb across it. As a good rule of thumb, your bed should be under 4ft wide.

Don’t be afraid to try different layouts of raised bed. The image above features one large raised bed, but the clever design means you can still easily access each part of it. 

Consider how far apart you’ll need to space your herbs. 

  • Parsley and oregano require 6” of space between them. 
  • Basil, dill, chives, rosemary, sage and thyme require 12” of space between them.
  • Coriander, lavender and mint require 18” of space between them.
  • Tarragon plants need 24” of space between them. 

Most herbs have very shallow root systems, which means a height of around 6-8” will be enough. If you are planning on growing vegetables too, you should aim for a height of at least 12”. 

Choosing the Best Soil

If you’ve got poor soil in your garden, raised beds will give you a chance to start afresh. A good quality potting mix can be purchased from your garden centre, then you can continue to add organic material. 

However, raised beds can also be filled with other materials, especially if you’re on a budget. A lasagna gardening system is an easy and affordable way to improve your soil quality and fill your raised bed. This technique involves layering green and brown materials until the raised bed is filled, then allowing them to break down. 

The best soil will depend on which herbs you are growing. 

  • Mediterranean herbs prefer nutrient-poor, alkaline soil that stays fairly dry. 
  • Lemon balm and mint on the other hand, prefer a more nutrient-rich location

Lining your Beds

To prevent weeds from growing up into the bed, you may want to consider using a liner. 

A liner can also improve your soil quality, drainage and protect against rodents that may dig up from underneath.

Popular materials to use include newspaper, corrugated cardboard, burlap and even grass clippings. Other materials such as leaves and straw can also be used. These materials will all aid drainage, allowing excess water to seep through.

These materials will break down over time, adding nutrients to the soil. 

Some gardeners use plastic sheets with drainage holes to line their raised bed gardens.

What Herbs to Plant in a Raised Bed

You’ve got a lot of choice when it comes to a raised herb garden, with a range of different herbs thriving provided they have adequate sunshine and well-drained soil. Most herbs are fairly low maintenance, so a great choice for new gardeners.

Popular annuals include basil, coriander and dill, while the best perennials are chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The easiest herbs to grow are perennials that can be bought in a pot. 

How to Plant Potted Herbs

Potted perennials are very easy to plant in raised beds. 

You will need: 

  • General mix compost with neutral pH
  • Potted herbs such as oregano, chives, mint, thyme and rosemary
  • A raised bed with adequate drainage
  • Hand trowel 

Step 1: Once you have lined your raised bed, fill two-thirds of it with your compost

Step 2: Use a trowel to dig a hole larger than the root ball of the herb, and place the herb into the hole. Fill the area around the herb with compost.

Step 3: Add more compost around the plant if necessary. 

Step 4: Water thoroughly 

How to Plant Herbs from Seed

Annual herbs such as basil, parsley, coriander and dill can be planted from seed. 

You’ll need to do this inside, moving them outside once they have become more established. . 

You will need: 

  • Seeds of annual herbs
  • General mix compost with a neutral pH
  • Small pots
  • Hand trowel
  • Clear plastic bag 

Step 1: Fill the small pots with compost and remove air holes by gently patting it down. Water the compost

Step 2: Scatter seeds onto the surface and cover with another thin layer

Step 3: Cover the pot with your plastic bag to keep the temperature warm. Place on a sunny windowsill until the seeds have germinated.

Step 4: Once the seeds have germinated, water whenever the compost is dry. When the herbs have grown to 10 cm, they can be planted outside in your raised beds, but this shouldn’t be done until early summer. 

Herb Garden FAQs

How deep should raised beds be for herbs? 

Unlike vegetables, most herbs don’t require a huge amount of space as they have shallow root structures. 6-8” should be deep enough to grow most herbs.

What herbs should be planted together? 

Some herbs get along better than others! If you’ve got a few raised beds, it’s worth thinking about which herbs can be planted together. In many cases, the nutrients of one herb can positively impact the growth of another!

  • Rosemary encourages basil to grow.
  • Sage encourages oregano to grow.
  • Thyme is compatible with fennel, coriander and tarragon. 
  • Parsley gets on well with chives, basil, coriander and tarragon. 

What herbs should not be planted together? 

Annual and perennial herbs get along well, but digging up annuals every year may disturb the soil surrounding the perennials. Generally, it’s best to have annuals in one bed, and perennials in another. 

As a general rule, Mediterranean herbs prefer a lot of sun, nutrient-poor and alkaline soil. 

Mint on the other hand, prefers a shadier spot in a nutrient-rich location. 

Fast growing herbs can crowd out others. For best results, you should avoid planting mint with other herbs, as it’s very invasive.

Taller plants can also prevent smaller ones from getting enough sunshine.