Herb spirals offer a very beautiful feature in your garden, and it’s a wonderful way to have all your culinary or medical herbs in one place. What makes herb spirals unique is their design to maximize space while creating different little microclimates which create extra heat or shade for different herb preferences.
Many herbs are of Mediterranean origin and prefer sandy soil and dry conditions. These herbs include oregano, and woody herbs like thyme or rosemary. Other herbs prefer cooler tempers, a little shade, and moist soil like cilantro or mints.
How to Build a Herb Spiral Step-by-Step
Here are some visual step-by-step instructions for building a herb spiral garden. We made a stone herb spiral, but you can also use bricks.
Clear Out the Weeds for the Herb Spiral Garden
1. We first cleared out the weeds with a natural weed killer and laid down cardboard with enough overlap to suppress weeds in the area surrounding the herb spiral.
Some people wet the cardboard as it breaks down faster but we didn’t bother. Then you want to use stones (or some people use bricks) and start making your shape by constructing the outer wall first. We made ours with a 1-meter distance from the center of the spiral to the outer wall. Some people also choose to just pile a huge mound of soil and then wedge the rocks into it.
Make an Outline for your Herb Spiral Garden
2. Then we made the outline shape of the spiral using the rocks and adjusted it if we needed to while filling it in with soil as we went. We chose slightly sandier soil as were growing a lot of Mediterranean herbs in the top layers.
Add Soil to Your Stone Herb Spiral
3. Once you have the first layer of rocks you can add more dirt and then wedge more rocks to build a double rock wall.
4. Keep on filling the spiral with dirt until it’s level with the rocks. The uppermost top has a 3 layered rock wall to give the herb spiral more height.
Here’s what the herb spiral looked like the 2nd year.
Not all the herbs were perennials. Some of them self-sowed like the chamomile (and even ended up spilling all over the place outside the herb spiral). I’ve direct seed annual herbs like basil & cinnamon basil, dill and cilantro in the ‘blanks’ that you see here. Pruning the basil helps maintain the lovely appearance of the herb spiral, and the same goes for pruning dill. I also like to dry basil so I can use the basil for longer periods of time.
The herb spiral 3 years later
As I mentioned already, you’re not supposed to plant mint in a herb spiral as it’s very invasive. I did it because it’s close to the fence and I wanted it to spread in that area instead of wild weeds. Realistically though, it’s not the best herb for a herb spiral.
The #1 thing I will say is that rock gardens are that they need frequent weeding
There are both pros and cons of building rock garden beds. Because most herb spirals are built with rocks, tiny weed seeds can fall into the cracks and germinate making it hard to weed.
Here are some photos of our herb spiral 3 years later.
I will say that we lived on a mountainside where the forest was growing into our garden, so the weed battles were epic and we had to frequently kill weeds. We often used an Epsom salt weed killer recipe to help is in our weed battles.
I would definitely build a herb spiral again, but choose better herbs that are less invasive and weed more frequently.
This was a popular DIY project from my old site Little Mountain Haven. We plan on building another herb spiral in the future. At the end of this post, I also show you what the herb spiral looked like in the 2nd and 3rd year. Many DIY posts fail to show you the long term results, only the pretty first year! I share the mistakes we made.