Top
Garden planning?

Herb Spiral Garden Building Step by Step Visual

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

Permaculture herb spirals are wonderful for many reasons

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 micro climates 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, woody herbs like thyme or rosemary. Other herbs prefer cooler tempers, a little shade and moist soil like cilantro or mints.

Herb spiral design helps to accommodate different herb microclimates and are easier to harvest from

German chamomille in a herb spiral

What herbs to grow in your herb spiral

It’s important to remember the microclimates in your herb spiral. We made the rookie mistake of planting mint, which is invasive and not a good idea (this was our 2nd year gardening!). Here are some tips when choosing herbs for your kitchen herb garden, or you could add some shorter medicinal herbs, however remember that many medicinal herbs grow very tall (some 6-10 feet) so really pay attention to the size.

Sage flowers in a herb garden

Sage flowers in a herb garden

Great herbs for a herb spiral include:

  • Woody perennial herbs like thyme, oregano, sage
  • Rosemary might not be the best choice for cooler climates as they need to a zone 9 for year-round growing.
  • Annual herbs like basil, cilantro and chamomile (ours self-sowed), parsley, dill
  • Calendula flowers and other shorter flowers
  • Mint isn’t a good idea, we grew lemon balm too, but that was also too invasive

The best herbs for a herb spiral are non invasive and ones where the roots won’t grow so deep they’ll damage the spiral

Lemon balm can be too invasive for a herb spiral

Step-by-Step Instructions for

How to Build a Herb Spiral

Herb Spiral: Step-by-step Instructions for how to build one

 

Here are some visual step-by-step instructions for building a herb spiral.

We used rocks, but you can also use bricks.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

We first cleared out the weeds and laid down cardboard with enough overlap to suppress weeds in the area surrounding of the herb spiral.

Some people wet the cardboard as it breaks down faster but we didn’t bother. Then you want to use rocks (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 centre 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.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

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.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

Once you have the first layer of rocks you can add more dirt and then wedge more rocks to build a double rock wall.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

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.

How to Build a Herb Spiral Permaculture Herb Spiral

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.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

 

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

The herb spiral 3 years later

As I mentioned already, you’re not suppose 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 is that they need frequent weeding

I’ve discussed the pros and cons of using rocks to build garden beds in this post. 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.

Herb spiral 3 years afterPermaculture herb spiral

I will say that we lived on a mountainside where the forest was growing into our garden, so weed battles were epic and frequently took over our garden.

I would definitely build a herb spiral again, but choose better herbs that are less invasive and weed more frequently

*Edited Note*

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 mistake we made.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a Herb Spiral

How to build a herb spiral

Disclaimer

Family Food Garden is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Comments

    • At first we had a rosemary at the top but we changed it to oregano. Sage, thyme, winter savoury, echinacea, feverfew, lemon balm (too invasive), chamomille (self-sowed out of the herb spiral). I have a few blanks that I was planting basil in.

      We’ve had the herb spiral for 5 years now and I would have so say because our family is now at the point of preserving lots of herbs for both medicinal and culinary purposes that the herb spiral is too small for us. It’s the perfect project for an urban backyard or if you’re happy growing herbs on a smaller scale 🙂

  1. I love this idea, but is there much maintenance to the actual rock spiral? We live in Pennsylvania and foresee having to redo the spiral every spring due to the winter frost.

    • I feel that weeding in between the rocks is the most challenging part. The frosts are ok for many of the herbs, it depends on what you plant. We get months of snow and many hard frosts here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclosure

Many of the links to products on this site are affiliate links. These are products that I've used or recommend based from homesteading experience. I do make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from these sales.Family Food Garden is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com