How To Make An Herb Spiral

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One difficulty that many gardeners experience with a small space herb garden is that growing a variety of herbs requires a variety of growing conditions. One way to create a variety of microclimates in a small area is to grow an herb spiral. An herb spiral is simply a mound of soil surrounded by a spiraling circle of rocks or other edging material, rising upward to a point. Think of it like a small mountain with a pathway spiraling up and around, leading to the peak.

Getting Started

There are many different ways to build an herb spiral. Before you begin, take some time to look at different examples of herb spirals and find a design that will work for your yard, your pocketbook and your physical ability. No matter what design you choose for an herb spiral, there are some basics steps that will help you create an herb garden that you will enjoy for many years to come.

The first step in building an herb spiral is to choose a location. Select a spot that has these qualities:

  • Easy access. There shouldn’t be any obstacles to the path to the herb spiral. Easy access makes it easier to maintain and harvest. Also, there should be a source of water nearby.
  • Close to the kitchen. Make it a quick trip to the garden to gather a few herbs to add to a stew at the last minute. The more convenient the herb garden, the more likely it is that the herbs will be picked and cared for.
  • Good sun exposure. Different herbs require different sun and soil conditions. Place the herb spiral in a spot that receives a combination of full sun and partial shade.
  • Well-draining soil. Do not put an herb spiral in an area where the soil is soggy or where water pools.

Once a spot for the herb spiral has been selected, mark out the area. Start by drawing the outside of the circle. This will help you visualize how the garden will look when finished. Also, design the spiral so that it moves in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.

The next step is to gather the materials needed to construct the herb spiral. The spiral can be built from a variety of materials. Rock is commonly used to build the walls that hold in the soil. Bricks, concrete blocks and blocks of untreated lumber also make an excellent border. A large pile of soil amended with compost is the other major ingredient needed for an herb spiral. And, placing a layer of landscape fabric, newspaper or cardboard under the herb spiral will prevent weeds from growing in the spiral.

Build the Herb Spiral

There are two different ways to approach the construction of an herb spiral. Both methods are a different twist on building a raised bed garden. Select a method that works best for you:

  • A quick and easy method is to pile the soil in the selected garden spot, form a mound in the desired shape and size, and create the spiral around the mound of soil.
  • A more permanent and solid structure can be built by laying the walls for the bottom circle of the spiral, fill with soil, build the second layer of the spiral, fill with soil, and finish with the top of the spiral.

Begin Planting

Before you get excited about your herb spiral and begin planting herbs, plan how the herbs will be arranged. Some herbs, such as sage and rosemary, will prefer the hottest and driest area at the top of the spiral. The soil further down the spiral is slightly wetter than at the top and the bottom of the spiral is the wettest. Mint will grow well in this moist area. Grow parsley and chives on the shaded side. The middle area is perfect for cilantro and hyssop. Get to know the different microclimates around your herb spiral and plant herbs in a spot that has all their favorite growing conditions.

These herbs will flourish on the shaded side of the herb spiral:

  • Beebalm
  • Cardamom
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile,
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon balm
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Violet

These herbs love being in full sun:

  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Horseradish
  • Oregano
  • Saffron
  • Sage
  • Scented geranium
  • Sweet marjoram

An herb spiral is a functional and decorative part of any garden or landscape. The spiral shape makes it a breeze to care for the herbs and the raised beds make it easy to harvest individual herb plants.

Last Updated: August 23, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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