Although you may be able to picture what an herb spiral would look like, you may be wondering, “What exactly is an herb spiral and why should I build one?”
Building an herb spiral creates ideal conditions, or microclimates, for each type of plant. Moreover, the other advantage is if you have a small yard, the spiral structure makes maximum use of vertical space as well as horizontal–like a simplistic gardening skyscraper!
How it Works
We at Beaver Lakes Nursery know that some plants require more sunlight and drainage while some prefer more shade and damp soil. The cleverness of the spiral allows for a variety of conditions, giving each herb its own microclimate.
One great benefit of building an herb spiral is that it supports the principles of permaculture. Your herb spiral also means you can plant more densely and allow for more high-yielding growth using as little land as possible. The higher your spiral, the more drainage and shade you’ll have. For example, the highest part of the spiral creates drainage for herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage, while providing shade for plants on the north side of the spiral, where herbs like chives and wild garlic thrive.
Selecting the location for your herb spiral is critical. Ideally, you want your spiral to be in full sun, and facing south. The spiral will actually create it’s own shade! Next, you should gather your materials. While Beaver Lakes Nursery will able to provide you with the garden soil, compost, and mulch (more detailed information on this below), you may want to scavenge what you already have at home. We think having an assortment of medium-sized stones are ideal for building the spiral walls for two reasons: They add stability and they provide heat-absorbing qualities. However, if you have left over wood or brick lying around your property, those will work, too!
Mulch is a Must
Montrose and the surrounding Western Slope is considered the high desert. Adding mulch to any garden bed–whether it be a traditional four-cornered bed, or an herb spiral–will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil. Our incredibly hot summers here need at least two-to-three inches of compost and mulch to be effective.
Building Your Herb Spiral
First, measure out a circle on the ground with the diameter about 5ft or 6ft. Go old school! By using a pencil with a long string tied to it, you can stick the pencil in the ground, and move the string to give you a fairly accurate circle.
Secondly, it’s important to clear your area from weeds. Place a barrier down like a weed controlling fabric, or even cardboard will work just fine.
Added Tip: If your spiral is in the middle of your yard, make a “mowing edge” with decorative gravel. At Beaver Lakes Nursery, we have all shapes and sizes of gravel. We think you’ll appreciate this when you’re having to trim back the weeds this summer.
Next, place your wall-building material on top of your weed controlling material, and then start building your spiral inward from the north-facing edge.
As for soil, we recommend applying either our Custom Potting Mix or our Garden I mix for your herb spiral. Keep adding soil as you go, to give the spiral more stability.
Then, spiral the stones upward, adding height with both the soil and stones. Your herb spiral should be at least two-feet tall, but we challenge you to go taller if you dare! To finish off the spiral, make the spiral wall taller on the south-facing side by adding more wall-building material.
Last, but not least, time to plant! Just remember, the driest conditions will be at the top of the spiral, and place shade-loving plants on the north side. Don’t forget to water, water, water!
It’s a time-old adage that spirals symbolize a connection to God and the energy of the cosmos. The symbol of the spiral represents harmony, good beginnings, and focus. Adding an herb spiral to your yard will definitely be a conversation starter for your backyard BBQ’s, but it also will add some positive energy to your other beds.
Finally, add some extra energy to your own herb spiral by incorporating some of our compost to the soil of your choice. We think our compost is king! Be sure to top your spiral off with some beautiful red cedar mulch for a visually appealing and aromatic garden spiral. We know your plants will appreciate it, too.
Have any questions on which soils or amendments will help you build your perfect herb spiral?