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Herb Gardening

Have you always dreamt of having your own herb garden? Filled with herbs, aromatic herbs, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, cosmetic herbs and even ornamental herbs? Well dream no further, make your herb garden a reality. It is not difficult; in fact it is quick and easy, and not half as expensive as you might have thought.

Available from most nurseries, DIY stores, garden centers and the like, you can find all the materials you will require for your very own herb garden. You can make use of easy-to-install paving products these can come in various shapes that range from rectangular panels, to squares, circles, stepping stones, pebbles and edging. These days the cobblestone pavers are very popular and they are quite modular which makes for easy laying. They are flexible, easy to move around, light enough for two people to lay. Not to mention the different colors that is available. What is more beneficial is that you can pick these up if you desire any changes in the shape or design of your garden time to come. (Tip: Buy cobblestones that are linked by wire so that you are able to cut them with wire cutters to fit spaces or incorporate taps and faucets. You could even remove some of the cobblestones to plant a groundcover for an informal effect.)

So much for that hard landscaping of your herb garden, when it comes to the herbs itself, that choice can be somewhat daunting. There are a wide variety of herbs that you could use. Each herb has its own distinctive flavoring. Most herbs are quite easy to cultivate and require full sun. There are annuals, perennials and even biennials.

You need to make the appropriate choice of which herbs you want to grow for your specific needs. Herbs can be divided into many categories with some herbs falling into more than one of these categories.

Culinary Herbs

When you think herbs then the first thing that comes to mind is food. Most gardeners grow a few or several varieties of culinary herbs for the cook. Just think of how bland, boring and plain food would be without this wonderful group of herbs that fall into this category. Some of the more popular herbs in this category include Basil, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic, Fennel, Coriander and Dill to mention a few.

Aromatic Herbs and Ornamental Herbs

These herbs are grown and cultivated mainly for their scent. Aromatic herbs are used in flower vases and dried flower arrangements as well. Their oils are used in perfumes, candles, and toiletries to name a few. Ornamental herbs also make the flower gardens look nicer. That is why herbs are often grown amidst the flowers. In most cases, herbs are used as companion plants. A couple of favorites are Lavender, Rosemary, Peppermint and Parsley. Not to mention all the lemon herbs.

Medicinal Herbs and Cosmetic Herbs

It is no secret, over the years, many herbs were proven to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of ailments and injuries, be it as a decoction, infusion, herbal tea, tincture, ointment. Others, like garlic, have preventative characteristics, some are soothing ointments, and others help to relieve symptoms that you may be experiencing.

After you made your decision on what type of herb garden would be suitable for you, then you should proceed as follows:

Step 1: Selecting the site for your herb garden Choose a level area that gets a minimum of four to five hours of full sun a day. The area itself does not have to be large. For the purposes of backyard landscaping the area we will be using for our herb garden measures 4 x 3.5 meters (that is 13.12 by 11.58 feet) (Tip: A square or rectangular space is usually preferable for a formal design for the herb garden.)

Step 2: Preparation for the herb garden Rake the whole area and remove all weeds, stones and rubble from the chosen site. Level the area if necessary. Dig the soil to a spade depth and mix in quality compost. Rake the area level, water and leave for at least 24 hours so the soil cansettle.

Step 3: Lay the paving in your herb garden Once you decided on the particular layout that you want in your herb garden then lay the paving. (Tip: Make use of graph paper as it helps a great deal in the formal design of your herb garden.) Start to lay the paving fromthe focal point, or central path and continue to lay the paving outwards.

With all the new types of modular paving available it is quite easy to move the paving around until you are satisfied with the overall effect. You can even trim the panels to suit your herb garden design. If the herb garden design is formal then it is best to stick to straight borders and panels that are equidistant from the focal point. This will make achieving symmetry easy. Do make use of a tape measure and a long straight piece of wood to keep edges in line.

Step 4: Placing the herbs in the herb garden Do not remove the herbs from their pots, first set them in the spaces where you want them to be planted as per your herb garden design. Further you also need to space the herbs according to their expected height and spread them so as to allow enough room for growth. Often what is on your herb garden design on paper looks different in reality and by placing the herbs in the herb garden in this fashion will allow you the opportunity to move the herbs around until you are satisfied with the overall effect.

Step 5: Planting up the herb garden Before planting herbs, water the herbs thoroughly as you will find that it is quite difficult to hydrate roots that might have dried out. Especially root balls that might have dried out. Gently loosen the root ball to encourage new growth. Also pinch out the tips of shrubby herbs so as to encourage those herbs to grow into a bush.

Mix some organic soil fertilizer into each planting hole (Tip: Bone, blood or fish meal will work fine.) Firm the soil around each plant and water thoroughly to allow the soil to settle. Water the herbs regularly in the beginning to allow it to establish itself. It is best to water deeply less often than little watering often.

Step 6: Finishing touches to the herb garden For instant color you could consider bringing in a few pots with colorful annuals. You could also seal the paving with a stone sealer for a glossy finish. Alternatively you could fill the gaps between the paving with small pebbles or gravel. Add a water feature as a focal point or make use of a sundial in the centre of your herb garden.

Whatever tickles your fancy – have fun.

NOTE: Be careful of the powerful effects of herbs. Use herbs in small doses and stop taking them if you feel side effects. Consult your doctor before taking herbs if you are unsure about their effects.