Herb spirals are a fun and easy way to fit your favorite herbs into a small planting area. I learned about this technique from a book on Permaculture called Gaia’s Garden. Check it out from your local library or get your own copy using my Amazon Affiliate link below:
The idea behind a herb spiral is that circular patterns in nature are innately space-conserving. You can minimize how much pathway vs. planting area you’ll need by organizing your herbs into a spiral pattern and also utilizing vertical space. Here are a few examples of what they can look like:
So you want to make one? Great! Here are the steps to build your very own herb spiral:
1. Pick Your Planting Location
Your herb spiral should be as close to your home as possible. In Permaculture, this is called Zone 0 or Zone 1. You can think of zones as a bulls-eye mapped over your property, where Zone 0 is your home and larger number Zones radiate out from that center point). The closer your herbs are to where you’ll be preparing food, the more likely you are to actually use them!
2. Add Some Rocks or Pavers in a Spiral Pattern
Add football to fist sized rocks or pavers, creating a spiral pattern from the base upwards. Essentially you’re delineating the planting area for each layer. If you’ve got leftover pavers, bricks or something similar, that will work fine, too. The goal is to make it ~3ft tall and 5ft wide. In the Northern Hemisphere, build it clockwise, with the opening on the North side.
3. Fill with Soil/Compost
Pile up some good garden soil/compost into the open gaps between your pavers/stones. You can save some money by making this a hugelkultur bed (using sticks and twigs at the base, then filling in with soil – the twigs will eventually break down into compost).
4. Plant Some Herbs (and Other Garden Goodies)!
You’ve created a garden structure that has microclimates! Lay out your herbs on the spiral, taking advantage of each herb’s preferred growing conditions. You don’t have to limit it to just herbs, either. Here are some general ideas of where to put things based on whether they like more or less sun and drier or wetter conditions:
Plant on North (cool) / East (morning sun) Side near Bottom (wetter)
- Mint (in a sunken container so it doesn’t escape into the rest of the spiral)
Plant in the Middle (East or West side)
Plant Middle, East side
Plant on South (hot) / West Side (afternoon sun) near bottom (wetter)
Plant on South (hot) / West Side (afternoon sun) near top (drier)
Plant on North (cool) / East (morning sun) Side near Top (drier)
- Dill (likes the heat, but gets pretty tall so you don’t want it to block sunlight for other herbs)
Here’s an example of a layout that could work for most gardens in the Northern Hemisphere:
Water your herb spiral or install irrigation tubing for automatic watering.
Here are a few additional resources explaining how to construct the spiral and where to place your favorite herbs and plants:
If you don’t already have a permanent solution for your herbs, I hope you’ll give this a try! Do you have a herb spiral in your garden? What do you like/dislike about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Sunday: Why so much garden imagery in the Bible?
Next Wednesday: Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference