How to Make an Herb Spiral

How to Make an Herb Spiral

Herb spiral in Ecuador

An herb spiral is a fun and easy permaculture project. You can make them as simple or elaborate as you want. Herb spirals allow you to grow a variety of herbs in a small space, improve soil drainage and utilize materials that you may already have onsite. The visual interest of an herb spiral is a great addition to any garden.

Location: Choose a spot that is easy to harvest from, somewhere you walk by often and is close to your kitchen. Your herb spiral should be located in a place that helps you remember to harvest and use your herbs. Place it somewhere that receives a good amount of sunlight throughout the day.

Materials: Try to utilize materials that you already have onsite. If you don’t have extra soil and compost available, try to source them as locally as possible. The texture of the soil can be improved by mixing it with well-aged organic matter (compost). The spiral can be made from any variety of materials: stones dug up from around the garden, old bricks, urbanite (recycled concrete), logs, bits of flagstone, etc. Get creative and make it your own!

The beginnings of an herb spiral in California

Size: Herb spirals are typically about 5-6 feet across and about 3 feet tall. You can definitely make a smaller herb spiral if you prefer, you’ll just have less planting space. Herb spirals much larger than this can be difficult to harvest from (our arms are only so long!). You could make a larger herb spiral, but you’ll need to turn the spiral into a path to access the center.

Mulch: Cover bare soil in your newly planted herb spiral with mulch to help conserve moisture and prevent weeds from growing as your herbs fill in. Composted wood chips make a great mulch but you could also use dry leaves or straw.

Newly planted herb spiral, ready for mulching

Orientation: The goal of the herb spiral is to make many micro-climates in a small space so that you can grow a diverse mix of plants. The orientation of the herb spiral (north/east/south/west) will determine the placement of the plants. Plants that like hot full sun will be placed on top of the spiral or on the side that faces the full day sun (south, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). Plants that like some shade will be placed on the opposite side (north, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere). Plants that prefer part-sun will go on the sides.

Plants: Choose plants that do well in your area. You don’t have to limit yourself to the herbs found in the grocery store, many native plants have herbal and culinary uses. You can also include edible flowers and vegetables in your herb spiral. Plants things that you like to use!

Some plant ideas for a Mediterranean climate herb spiral include: sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, cilantro, parsley, calendula, borage, comfrey, chives, lemon balm, basil, dill, lavender, tarragon, and chamomile.

Some plant ideas for a more tropical climate herb spiral include: lemon verbena, lemon grass, culantro, Shiso leaf, Cuban oregano, Vietnamese coriander, and aloe. Many Mediterranean herbs will do well in this climate too.

Established herb spiral in California

We’re here to help! Contact Earth Design Gardens for support designing your herb spiral and other garden projects.