Planting a Spiral Herb Garden

A spiral herb garden mimics one of the most interesting shapes in nature—a spiral. Plant your favorite herbs in a garden that's shaped like a spiral.

Create a spiral shape with a garden hose.

Of all the patterns seen in nature, spirals might be one of the most fascinating and most often mimicked by artists, architects, and even garden designers. Spirals reveal themselves subtly around us almost everywhere. Look at how flower petals form in whorls or how pinecone scales circle the cone. The shape of a nautilus shell is another classic example. Spirals even rest right on our own fingertips—just make a fingerprint and see.

Create a spiral shape with a garden hose.
I used a flexible garden hose to create a spiral shape in my pie-shaped bed. The soil is mounded higher in the center.
Use a flexible hose as a guide for the garden shape.
Using the flexible garden hose as a guide, I placed the stones in a spiral formation.

I have been coveting spiral gardens for a while and finally decided to plant my own. I used a design from Saturday Evening Post for inspiration but adapted it to suit my space. For example, this and most of the plans I find for spiral gardens show a complete circle, but as with most gardening, you have to work with what you've got.

I planted my spiral garden in a pie-shaped bed (mmm...pie!) that was created when we added a deck and stairs to the back of our house. The bed is roughly 8.5 feet wide in the front and 6.5 feet long on the sides. It needed to be planted with something, so why not a spiral herb garden?

I was still able to adapt the method of raising the soil level in the center (though not quite as high as the Post design), keeping the plants that prefer drier conditions, such as rosemary and sage, high and dry. I also planted flat Italian parsley, curled parsley, cinnamon basil, purple basil, cilantro, onion chives, Greek oregano, and German thyme.

My spiral garden looks sparse now, but the rock spiral—made largely from chert rocks found in the woods behind our house, as well as scrap pieces of brick and block—gives the garden appeal even before the plants fill in. I love this look. It's architectural and has design interest but, because of the spiral shape, still feels completely natural.

Sage takes its place along the herb spiral. I used rocks found in the woods behind our house.

Grow sage in a perennial herb garden.
Sage takes its place along the herb spiral. I used rocks found in the woods behind our house.