HomeGrowing TipsCompanion PlantingTips for Designing an Elegant Herb and Ornamental Garden

Tips for Designing an Elegant Herb and Ornamental Garden

Creating a beautiful and functional herb and ornamental garden requires careful planning and design. In this article, we’ll explore tips for selecting the right location, designing an elegant layout, choosing the best plants, and incorporating decorative accents to craft a sophisticated garden that delights the senses. A well-designed herb and ornamental garden can add immense charm, tranquility, and convenience to your outdoor space.


Choosing the Right Location

Selecting the optimal site to locate your herb and ornamental garden is a crucial first step. Consider the following factors when deciding where to place your garden:


Herbs and many ornamental flowers require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Observe how the sunlight hits different areas of your yard during the day and select a spot that receives ample sunshine. Positioning your garden in a south-facing area can maximize sunlight exposure. Most vegetables and herbs need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun to thrive.

Soil Type

Test your soil’s pH and nutrient levels. The ideal pH range for most herbs and ornamentals is 6.5-7.0. Improving the soil with compost, manure, or other organic amendments can create ideal growing conditions by balancing pH, adding nutrients, and improving soil structure and drainage.


Your garden needs good drainage to prevent waterlogging. Avoid low-lying areas of your yard that collect water. Adding compost to dense, clay-heavy soils can improve porosity and drainage. You can also create raised garden beds to ensure excellent drainage.


Situate your herb and ornamental garden close to your house and kitchen to create easy access for care, maintenance, and harvesting. Having it right outside your door makes it convenient to run out and pick fresh herbs for cooking.

Designing the Layout

A well-planned layout creates an orderly, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing herb and ornamental garden. Consider these key design elements:

Formal vs. Informal

Formal herb gardens have geometric designs, patterns, straight lines, and defined edges while informal gardens have a more natural, flowing, curvaceous layout. Choose the style that best suits your personal taste and complements your overall landscape.

Beds and Borders

Define garden beds clearly with borders like short boxwood hedges, bricks, stone, bender board, or packed soil. This gives your garden structure and organization. Raised beds provide good drainage.


Incorporate gravel, brick, stone, or mulch pathways to allow easy access through your garden. Curving paths create visual interest while straight paths complement formal designs. stepping stones placed adjusted rose and flower beds also make for convenient access.

Strategic Planting

Place taller flowers and grasses toward the back or middle of beds so they don’t shade low-growing herbs which need maximum sun exposure. Group plants with similar water and sunlight needs together in beds.

Selecting Plants

Give careful thought to which herbs and ornamentals you include to create a cohesive look:


Choose a mixture of culinary herbs like basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, oregano, chives, and mint. Also incorporate aromatic herbs like lavender and lemon verbena for sensory appeal. Consider growing methods – some herbs thrive in garden beds while others do better in containers.


Select flowering plants, grasses, shrubs, and vines to provide diverse colors, heights, and textures. Consider blooming times so something is always in flower. Popular choices include peonies, iris, coneflower, violets, and ornamental grasses.


Consider choosing a theme or color scheme for your plant selections, like cool blues and purples or warm reds, oranges and yellows. This creates a cohesive look.

Mixing Heights and Textures

Combine low-growing herbs like thyme and chamomile with mid-level flowers like zinnias and taller backdrops like cosmos and hollyhocks. Vary leaf size, shape, and plant densities for visual interest.

Hardscaping and Decor

Incorporate hardscape and decorative features to give your herb and ornamental garden elegance:


Use stone, brick, gravel, timber, wrought iron, and ceramics as design materials for paths, borders, trellises, raised beds, etc. Choose materials that match your home’s style.

Focal Points

Add eye-catching focal points like an iron arbor, stone statue, sundial, gazing ball, or unique plant specimen to draw attention.

Garden Art

Select iron plant stands, ceramic pottery, sculptures, sundials, wind chimes and other art pieces to ornament your garden. Consider a theme like Mediterranean or Tuscan.

Water Features

Include a small fountain, pond, or birdbath to provide tranquil sounds. Situate it centrally as a highlight.

Garden Furniture

Incorporate benches, tables, and chairs to create a relaxing seating area within your herb garden. Use sun-resistant materials like wrought iron, teak wood, or stone.


Illuminate garden beds, focal points, and sitting areas with solar garden lights. This allows you to enjoy your garden’s beauty in the evenings.


An elegantly designed herb and ornamental garden incorporates careful plant selection, thoughtful layout, and decorative accents. Follow tips like choosing a sunny, well-draining location and improving your soil, laying out paths and organized beds, combining herbs with ornamentals of varied heights and textures, and adding hardscape, furniture, lighting and art for a sophisticated aesthetic. With proper planning and care, your garden can become a beautiful, tranquil oasis that delights.


What are some good herb and flower pairings?

Some great herb and flower combinations include basil with petunias, thyme with lavender, dill with zinnias, and sage with nicotiana.

Should herbs get full sun?

Yes, most culinary and aromatic herbs need a minimum of 6 hours of full, direct sunlight per day. A sunny location is ideal.

What makes an ornamental garden classy?

Using refined materials like stone, wrought iron, and timber for hardscaping and incorporating focal points like water features, sculptures, or neatly designed planting beds gives ornamental gardens an elegant, classy look.

How much space do you need for an herb garden?

You can grow a variety of herbs in a 4×4 foot space or even in containers on a patio. Expand to an 8×8 foot garden or larger for more plant diversity.

What are good borders for herb gardens?

Short boxwood hedges, lavender plants, bricks, bender board, and mixed herbs like thyme and sage make attractive borders that delineate herb garden beds.



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