It was about a year and a half ago that I helped my mom with a barren area of her yard by planting an herb garden.  The back flower bed along the fence was full of weeds and she was very reluctant to plant anything. She was nervous about watering and any maintenance. Her soil is pretty heavy clay and there can be standing water at times in the winter after heavy rains. Here is a picture of what we were working with to start.

It took some convincing, but I am a big believer that bare soil is an open invitation for plant pioneers – a.k.a. weeds. Turning the space into an herb garden would prevent the on-going battle with weeds and create a low-maintenance planting area. The view from her french doors look right at this spot, so choosing perennial herbs meant there would be something to look at all year. I also tried to look for things with different colors and textures to add more visual interest back there.

I began by digging out all the weeds. I then took cuttings from some of my own herbs at home: rosemary, thyme, lime-green oregano, purple sage, and chives. It was November, so they wouldn’t need watering to get established.

I separated some crowded irises she had in a corner of the yard. Along with the herb divisions, I planted everything in a nice arrangement and covered the bed with leaves that had fallen from her maple trees to try to build the soil quality a bit. It was essentially a free experiment, so she didn’t have much to lose by letting me try it out. The picture above was taken when it was just planted.

She has done nothing to the spot since then. No watering. No fertilizing. Probably very minimal weeding, if any. She shoved a few garlic cloves in the ground last Fall, actually, so that is the extent of the work back there. And here is what it looks like today! So pretty and easy. I think she has even snipped some herbs here and there to use in cooking. But if nothing else, we took a dead corner of the yard and made it into something beautiful.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson