Published on April 10th, 2014 | by Becky Striepe0
Herb Spiral: Turn old bricks into a sweet vertical planter!
Garden Week is going strong, you guys! Today I’m excited to share how to build one of my favorite features from my own back yard: our herb spiral.
I live in intown Atlanta, and from a gardening perspective, that means two things:
1. I have terrible soil that’s packed with clay.
2. My yard is basically made of bricks.
Not everyone living intown has a yard full of bricks, but most of us find crazy debris in our yards whenever we dig. I’m guessing that the bricks in my yard come from a previous structure that was demoed when our house was built back in the 20s. You can’t dig in our yard for any amount of time without finding at least a few bricks, and my husband and I used to stack them up in a corner of the yard. After a spring and summer of digging, we had a heap of hundreds of bricks!
I did a little bit of googling to figure out how I could use these to build some kind of raised bed situation, and instead of your typical square garden bed, I came across this majestic herb spiral.
WHAT! This solved two of our garden problems at once: it used up half of our bricks, and it got our herb garden up out of that bad soil and into the potting soil that we used to fill the spiral.
Here’s how Dave and I built our herb spiral!
How to Build an Herb Spiral
I’m giving you a general materials list. The amounts that you’ll need depend on how big you want your spiral to be. I’d suggest starting with 2 bales of hay and building your spiral, then deciding if you need more hay. Once your spiral is built, you’ll have a better idea of how much potting soil and how many rocks you’ll need.
Materials + Tools
- shovel, trowel, gardening gloves, and a rake
- a whole lot of bricks, preferably salvaged, because they’re prettier when they’re a little bit old
- a few bales of hay – You can find this at your local garden center. Hay is cheap.
- rocks – Collect these from your yard or buy a bag from the garden center.
- a few bags of potting soil – Don’t skimp on the potting soil! High-quality, organic potting soil means happy herb plants.
- herb seedlings of your choice
1. Use the shovel and rake to level out the ground where you’ll be building your spiral. This doesn’t have to be totally perfect, but the more level you get it, the better.
2. Lay out your first layer of bricks in a spiral shape, then pile on the second layer of bricks so that they’re offset from the first layer. Keep layering like this until you run out of bricks. As you lay your bricks, test each one for wobbliness, and use straw to level things out as you go. We built two spirals, and they start to need more straw as you get closer to the top, but don’t worry! We’ve also had our spirals for years, and they’re still standing.
3. Fill your spiral about 1/3 of the way with rocks, then another 1/3 of the way with straw. Top it off with your organic potting soil, packing things down.
4. Plant your herbs, and you’re ready to admire your spiral! Maybe after a hot epsom salt bath to soak away the dirt and heavy lifting?
Maintaining Your Herb Spiral
Like any structure that you build, your herb spiral may need a little bit of maintenance from time-to-time. Here’s how my husband and I refreshed our herb spiral after a harsh winter.