Growing herbs in your garden is a wonderful way to enrich your diet and live in a healthier way.
An outdoor herb planter can provide you with culinary herbs, medicinal herbs and more. It can be great for garden wildlife too.
You can use herbs not only for cooking but also for a range of other things – from cleaning your home, to creating natural DIY grooming or beauty products. Getting outdoor herb planters is one great step we can take on the route to a more sustainable way of life.
And herbs can also be beneficial while in active growth. There are herbs that can help in attracting beneficial insects like pollinators, and creatures that prey on pest species and keep their numbers down. There are also herbs that can help in repelling, confusing or distracting certain pest species.
In this article, we’ve compiled some of the UK’s best outdoor herb planters for garden growing. And you don’t just need to stick to herbs either. You might be able to grow some other crops too…
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We’ve chosen these products based on their quality, sustainability, ease of use and practicality. They’re not the only options out there, but we think they are all good options to consider.
Tiered Wooden Decorative Herb Planter
If you don’t have a big budget then making your own planter is usually the best option. But if you do not have the time, this simple tiered wooden herb planter could allow you to dip your toe in the water when it comes to growing herbs. This is our best pick because it is affordable, yet delivers exactly what you need to get growing in a small way. Start off with something like this and you can expand your efforts later with something larger or more substantial.
Measuring 75 x 45 x 30, this simple wooden structure has five tiered bins, each of which can be used to grow a few herb plants – perhaps interspersed with some flowering plants for decorative appeal.
- UK-made using wood from sustainable sources.
- Free-standing design.
- Easy for a beginner to put together. (Avoiding the need for more complex DIY work.)
- Slim gaps below each trough allowing water drainage.
- Hooks on the side for garden tool storage.
- This is a fairly small planter, and the troughs are only suitable for smaller herbs and plants.
- This planter may dry out fairly quickly and will require careful watering.
Recycled PET Vertical Herb Garden Solution
Vertical gardening allows us to make the most of even the smallest of spaces. We definitely recommend thinking about the vertical space as well as the horizontal space in your garden when choosing what, how and where to grow. It is possible to make your own vertical garden in a range of different ways. But buying one is easy and means you could potentially get started right away.
This pocket vertical garden is our value pick because it is durable, lightweight, yet less environmentally damaging than many other products on the market. Though a DIY option could be far more eco-friendly still, this option lessens the impact of plastic by using recycled PET. While not recyclable itself, it should last for years to come. If you are looking for a long-lasting vertical herb garden, this is one option to consider.
- Make from recycled PET (so comes with lower costs to the environment than other plastic products).
- Durable fabric well suited to the purpose.
- Has 56 breathable felt pockets where a variety of herbs and other smaller plants could be grown.
- Two-chamber design maintains moisture levels while allowing strong roots to grow.
- Great for making the most of smaller gardens and maximising use of vertical space.
- Not self-watering. An irrigation system or hand watering would have to be implemented.
- The material, while recycled, is not itself recyclable at the end of its useful life.
- Only smaller herbs/ plants can be grown in pocket-type planters.
Rustic Wooden Trough-Style Herb Planter
We like the robustness of this wooden trough planter, and the fact that it comes ready assembled, making it even easier for the new herb gardener. We also like the fact that it is made from sustainable timber.
The planter is made from 20mm thick sides, and is 120cm long, 29cm wide and 26cm high. Well made and built to last, it will look great in a simple, natural, rustic style garden design. It would be best to line this planter, though we recommend that you do so with hessian or another permeable, natural material rather than plastic.
- Made from sustainable timber.
- Sturdy, high quality construction.
- Attractive rustic design.
- Is fairly low, so possibly not the best choice for those with limited mobility.
- Product will likely need to be lined for best results and to make it last as long as possible in good condition.
Raised Trough Planter for Deeper Rooted Herbs
This is another FSC certified timber planter with sturdy, heavy-duty construction. Built to last, in much the same way as the above, this planter has the additional benefit that it is raised high off the ground with legs. This means it is ideal for elderly gardeners or those with bad backs or mobility issues.
The raised trough is large enough and deep enough to plant a wide range of herbs – and perhaps even some fruits or vegetables too. Overall, the planter is 102cm long and 66cm high. The trough is 102 x 39 x 35cm deep. The trough section comes ready-made and so all you have to do once it arrives is screw in four screws to assemble the base.
- FSC certified, treated timber that will last.
- Solid, durable construction.
- Attractive rustic design that will look good in many gardens.
- Just the right height for very easy and accessible herb gardening.
- Product will likely need to be lined for best results and to make it last as long as possible in good condition.
- The deep trough will require more growing medium than other options.
Simple Fir Wood Raised Planter With Liner Included
Unfortunately, many of the raised planters and trugs on the market are form over function. But this criticism cannot be levelled at this simple planter. It may not be the most beautiful of planters, but its simplicity is great for those just looking for something that does the job.
Just a box on legs really, this raised planter is 73.5cm high, so is very user friendly. It is great for those who suffer from knee or back pain and can’t bend down easily to garden. Simple, but sturdy and stable, this planter is made from non-toxic fir wood, known for its natural rot resistance, strength and dimensional stability. It is easy to assemble, low maintenance and comes with a garden liner included. So could make herb gardening outdoors easier than ever.
- Made from non-toxic, sturdy and durable fir wood.
- Simple yet strong load-bearing design.
- Raised height for easy accessibility.
- Easy to assemble and low maintenance.
- Comes with a liner included.
- Trough is 20cm deep, so not suitable for deeper rooted plants (but ideal for many herbs).
- Assembly required.
- Simple, basic design so not necessarily the most visually appealing choice.
How To Grow Herbs Outdoors
Growing herbs outdoors begins with deciding which herbs you would like to grow. Remember, there are a huge range of different herbs you could consider. And different herbs have very different growing requirements.
There are perennial herbs, that will remain in your garden and come back year after year. And there are annual herbs that will last only a season.
Some common perennial herbs are rosemary, thyme, oregano and marjoram. These Mediterranean herbs like warm, relatively dry conditions, with plenty of sun. Other perennials like mint and chives like more moisture, and will thrive in areas with more shade.
Common annual crops for sunny, sheltered and relatively warm locations include basil, coriander and dill. These typically like moist yet relatively free-draining soil. Parsley (actually a biennial but best grown as an annual) and chervil like a little shade, and more moisture than the above.
Of course, these are just a few of the herbs you might like to grow in your garden.
Where to Grow Herbs
You also need to think about how you grow your herbs, and where. One option, of course, is to use one of the outdoor herb planters mentioned above, or a similar DIY version, and create a dedicated herb garden area. One benefit of this is that the herbs will be easily accessible when you need them – perhaps just outside your kitchen door.
But this is not your only option. Herbs can also be grown:
- In a dedicated garden bed or raised bed. (Herb spirals are one type of raised bed that you might be interested in considering for your garden. These make it easier to grow a wide range of herbs with differing needs in a smaller area, since you create a wider range of growing conditions by creating a raised spiral – with areas of shade and more free-draining, drier areas at the top.)
- As companion plants in a polyculture vegetable plot or kitchen garden. Growing herbs alongside other crops can bring a range of benefits – attracting pollinators and aiding in pest control.
- As part of fruit tree guilds, perennial borders or forest gardens. Perennial herbs are ideal for inclusion in low-maintenance, perennial garden designs. Again, in such systems, they can help in wildlife attraction and pest control.
When thinking about where to grow your herbs, consider the needs of the herbs you would like to grow. Think about how much water they need, what type of soil they like, their growth habits and impacts they might have on neighbouring plants before you make your decisions.
Rosemary, for example, is rather deep-rooted. It won’t thrive in shallower pockets or planting troughs and can’t abide wet roots. Mint can be quite a thug and will take over a small bed or herb planter if you let it….Learning more about the herbs you want to grow is always the best way to ensure success.
Caring For Herbs Grown Outdoors
One important thing to remember about growing herbs in outdoor herb planters is that plants grown in planters or containers will require more watering than plants grown in the ground.
You can consider making your life easier by setting up an automated watering system. This can perhaps be linked to a rainwater harvesting system collecting water that falls on the roof of your home.
You can also use watering globes, or wine bottles upside down in the soil, to slowly release water for the herbs as it is needed.
To reduce water use, when herbs are grown in a trough or box style planter, or in raised beds or other growing areas in your garden, it is important to make sure the soil surface is covered. Use an organic mulch or a ground cover like grit/pebbles for Mediterranean herbs to reduce moisture loss from the soil or growing medium beneath.
Choosing the right growing medium for the herbs you are trying to grow is key when growing in outdoor herb planters. Remember, some Mediterranean herbs require a much more free draining medium, and don’t mind poor fertility, while certain other herbs need something much more nutrient-rich.
Growing herbs with companions that like the same or similar conditions means you will be more likely to meet with success in growing your herbs.
Gardening can be complex, but getting started is easy. You can take things one step at a time and begin by growing a few herbs or other simple crops before you take on a larger growing plan.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.