Backyard herb gardens are a perfect way to add both beauty and utility to any space. They can be large or small to fit the available size, either in containers or in the ground. If backyard space is limited, too shady, or non-existent, a sunny window sill is a great spot to consider. Most herbs are easy to grow, requiring six to eight hours of sunlight and daily watering. And best of all, the selection of plants in your backyard herb garden can be customized to fit any need.
No need to buy freeze-dried herbs at the store when their fresh counterparts are close at hand. Fresh herbs pack a stronger punch of flavor. They can be added as a colorful garnish, too. Basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary are some of the most common herbs used in home-cooked meals.
But many more selections can give your dishes an added zing. Lemongrass supplies a subtle citrus hint to chicken or fish, and you can also brew it as a tea. Cilantro's distinctive flavor blends well in a variety of dishes, from salsa to steak. Even the common basil offers diverse choices. From the spicy cinnamon basil to a lighter-flavored lemon basil, there's an herb for every taste.
To attract pollinators
Sometimes vegetable gardens need a little help getting the bees and butterflies interested. Plenty of herbs will do just that. Bee balm, chamomile, dill, lavender, and hyssop offer flowers that bees find hard to resist, and if bees are facing low populations in your area, attracting them is a good thing.
Skip the hummingbird feeders and their bright red sugary nectar and plant catnip, comfrey, or mallow. Or offer up some yarrow, marjoram, or chives for the butterflies. You might get a beautiful show. And as a bonus, the blooms will liven up the yard.
To repel unwanted insects
Sitting outside on a nice summer evening caps off a long day, until the mosquitoes start biting and you start itching. Instead of lighting a bunch of citronella candles or spraying some chemical-filled concoction all over your skin, plant some lemon balm where you spend a lot of outdoor time.
Put them close to doorways or windows to prevent the pesky bugs from finding their way inside. Crushing the leaf and rubbing it on ankles or arms is another method of repelling the thirsty mosquitoes. Other insect deterrents that smell nice and can make outside time more pleasant and bite-free are catnip, lavender, and peppermint.
For your health
Herbs offer many medicinal benefits and have been used through the centuries for relief from many common issues. The distinct scent of peppermint can lift dreary spirits, help reduce headaches, or even calm a turbulent stomach.
Chamomile is a relaxant, an ingredient in many herbal teas, and lavender's scent has the same effect as well when used in the bath or in a spray. Licorice can be brewed in tea for an energy boost or to help heal canker sores. Rosemary's been shown to aide immune systems. For help with a cough or bloating, sage tea can do the trick. To prevent infection from minor cuts, use a cream made with calendula.
Or simply cut a fresh bouquet to decorate your spring table or freshen your home. With a some consideration and a little daily effort, an herb garden can have so many benefits to offer.