>> Feb 23, 2016
A Herb Spiral is a visually elegant, exceedingly productive, and energy efficient garden design. It allows the gardener to stack plants in order to maximize space, which is both a practical and attractive solution for urban gardeners - as well as for cooks anywhere who just want to dash to the kitchen garden for some thyme. The spiral is typically 5 – 6 ½ feet wide in diameter at the base, ascending to approximately 3 – 4 feet, with the centre of the spiral being the highest point. The resulting spiral ramp creates a planting area large enough to include all the most common culinary herbs.
How the features of the design help with landscaping
This design, using permaculture principles, maximizes the natural force of gravity, allowing water to drain freely and seep down through all layers – leaving a drier zone at the top (perfect for herbs like rosemary or sage) and a moist area at the bottom for thirstier plants. The design also creates microclimates, allowing the gardener to plant a wide range of herbs in a variety of spots (sunny, sheltered and shady). In a more traditional garden, all plants are grown on one level, where the growing conditions are the same. This design offers you many options in a compact space.
We find this design is often used by Leicester landscaping company Groby Landscapes, you can see examples where they have planted around the design of a herb spiral with their planting services and portfolio images. Often this is a popular choice amongst their customers who enjoy gardening. They show some great examples around how this is put together from scratch.
The spiral is typically built with stone, bricks, or blocks, etc., in order to retain heat absorbed during the day and insulate the garden at night, allowing it to stay warm when temperatures drop. These materials form the backbone of the spiral structure, which is filled with soil, organic matter, and nutrients to in which the herbs are planted. The spiral is watered from the top and moisture filters down to the bottom, creating different moisture zones. The bottom of the spiral can be closed off with the same backbone materials, or the water can be directed into a small pond or bog garden at the bottom, which would be a great place for frogs or edible water plants that prefer a wet environment. Herb Spirals can be laid out so they are built in the same direction that water flows down a drain – which is clockwise in the Northern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern hemisphere.
Be creative with planting
A big advantage to this design is the fact that the gardener can fit a great many herbs into a much smaller space than a conventional garden, where the need for multiple paths spreads plantings out further. Also, in urban neighborhoods with draconian homeowner’s association rules, such a design allows the gardener to be creative, while satisfying the landscaping aesthetic of the development.