How to have Endless Fresh Herbs & Beautiful Plants on Your Deck, Patio or Porch Without ENDLESS Watering!!

Everywhere I look these days I see gorgeous plants for sale; herbs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.And then there’s the flowering plants: oh my, the selection is amazing in every color of the rainbow. Theybeckon me, beg me and entice me to give them a home. They all want a place on my sunny back deck which becomes an additional living space here at The Café during the spring, summer and fall seasons. 

I don’t have any problem with their call. Actually their “wish is my command”, as I love merely stepping out the back door and clippings sprigs of basil, oregano, thyme and a myriad of other delightful fresh herbs. I wait eagerly for the the first juicy, succulent tomato and watch from my kitchen window for the beginning of a delightful supply of crunchy seedless cucumbers, sweet bell peppers still warm from the sumer sun.  I love the beauty and cheer the hanging baskets and pots of flowers impart.

 I love it! But it wasn’t always that way. Although always eager to purchase the lovely green folliage , several seasons of failed results began to make me a bit reluctant to invest in more plants. The failed results were most often due to a few days of missed watering. A vacation, a busy schedule at work, guests from out-of-town or lots of activities with the kids …………… before I’d know it, my gorgeous green garden became a brown, shriveled, VERY sad mess. Plants are not cheap, and their premature demise always made my heart sick. Have you ever had this dilemma?
Guess what? I no longer have that problem and the little nagging voice that used to say “why would you spend your hard earned money on these ……………”, well, that little voice has just disappeared FOREVER! You see my husband is quite the genius and came up with an amazing system for……………..
…………….. keeping my lovely porch garden green and growing and amazingly healthy ALL SUMMER LONG! With NO EFFORT! Even when we’re on a vacation, have a busy schedule at work, entertain guests, etc. etc., our plants stay healthy and well watered. It’s wonderful, amazing, incredible, spectacular …………… can you tell I like it? Okay, so I’ll stop gushing and turn this post over to him. He actually wrote the post several years ago, in the early days of The Café, but since we’ve had thousands of new readers over the past two years, I wanted to share it again ………………

Hi Café fans, this is Scott, Chris’ resident photographer, editor and confidante (translated – husband!). Chris has always love to use fresh herbs in her cooking and wanted me to share our way of growing them quite effortlessly with an Herb Rack Drip System.
Years ago, as a Mother’s Day gift, I wanted to build an herb garden for Chris. As I was planning it, I realized that there were several flaws to the designs I had previously seen in magazines and gardening books. Most people grow their herbs in a regular garden, a raised bed, or in pots directly on their patio or deck. Each one of these plans was OK, but had serious shortcomings. I also noticed that if we put herbs out in the backyard garden, Chris would seldom walk out to get them because when she was cooking she usually needed them ASAP.
Now, if you were a fly on the wall in our house, you’d know that Chris and I run on two wheels most of the time, so expedience is of the utmost importance! When I tried to move some of the herbs to the deck, they left it a total mess with water, mildew, plant parts and dirt all over. The other major problem was that, if we went away for more than two days, the herbs in the pots committed hari kari and didn’t recover, all due to lack of water. Consequently, our hard work at the beginning of the season was for naught.
One day I was out on the deck and had an “Aha!” moment. Why not create an herb rack drip system that would be attached to the deck railing?
By doing that, Chris would have her herbs within easy reach of the kitchen (no muddy, wet feet!), the deck would stay clean AND… no “sudden death” plants when Carolina summers reach their zenith. Two other advantages: No rabbits and other little rodents AND the plants in the gardens below the herb rack thought they were in seventh heaven, since they received the secondary benefits of all the watering and fertilization above them.
By utilizing the very economical standard drip systems available at Home Depot or Lowes (or many hardware stores for that matter) you too can easily build a system like this for under $100.

Each pot has one or two drippers depending on the size of the pot and the water needs of the plants. I also attach a pressure regulator and a timer to make the system foolproof (see photo).
The timer turns the system on two or three times a day for 5-10 minutes (6 a.m., 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. )to make sure the plants are happy and not H2O stressed. The pressure regulator keeps the water pressure from your garden hose at the very low rate required by drip systems. If you really want to get sophisticated, you can install an additional water valve in your lawn irrigation system to feed the drip system thus avoiding using a standard garden hose connection.
As the system has evolved throughout two houses and many years, I’ve let my imagination run wild. “What if all the plants in and around our house could get regular watering like the herbs?” You guessed it !- Now we have an “expanded” drip system that feeds water to over eighty plants, shrubs and flowers, including the knockout roses and topiaries in the front of the house! Chris has learned to expect little drippers to appear almost anywhere around our property.
Three Cautions
First – Check the drippers periodically to make sure they’re not clogged – If you see a stressed plant, that’s a give-away. The little dripper tips are very cheap to replace, some of the new ones even have “bug” catchers since some bugs, especially spiders. like to try to move into the water source and make a home! Not a particularly bright move.
Second – Because the plants are in the restricted space of a pot, fertilize them regularly (every other week). The daily drip system tends to wash out vital nutrients all plants depend on from the soil. I use regular Miracle Gro and mix it up in a sprinkling can.
Third – Spray regularly with environmental pest spray (The kind that can be used right up to the day before harvest). If your plants are producing faster than you’re using the herbs in your cooking, give them what Chris calls a “haircut”. This promotes new growth and you can “donate” the extra “hair” to your friends, neighbors and work buddies who like to cook. They will love you for it!
Happy Herbing!
Scott
P.S. – Feel free to leave questions in the Comments section below!


31 thoughts on “How to have Endless Fresh Herbs & Beautiful Plants on Your Deck, Patio or Porch Without ENDLESS Watering!!”

  • I’m bookmarking this for when we get a house! Because I would really, really love endless herbs without endless watering. Sounds like the perfect setup to me! 🙂

  • Great system! I love the micro-irrigation stuff. When we lived in Florida, we used that system for some of our in-ground plants. Love how you’ve adapted it to your deck plants! Really nice garden – thanks for sharing the details with us.

  • What a great post. I have to apply your technique to my own garden. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my herbs to thrive. Mine really don’t flourish and they need all the help they can get. Havea great day. Blessings…Mary

  • What an amazing idea, Scott! You and Chris make quite a team. I missed this the first go ’round…and I’m going to have to show it to my not so handy (but wonderful!) hubby…many of my herbs have committed hari kari, too.

    PS…thanks for all your sweet words during this tough time. My MIL did really well during the funeral, but I think she’s overwhelmed with all she has on her plate. Bill and Katie went out to help her this weekend…I know she appreciates their help 🙂

  • In a few hours, I will be off to our annual GardenFest and I know I will over purchase herbs and other plants that I really have no space for. You know what that means—another garden or flower bed. Great tips, Scott and Chris.

  • Total genius! And it’s beautiful too. I can just imagine the wonderful aromas as you walk by it, too.

  • Ladies should not feel they need a man to set up a system like this. I have done the same thing, although mostly out in a raised-bed garden. The technical and strength demands are minimal. Go on, try it – you’ll like it!

    • This type of thing is not my forte so I must say, bravo to you! I think it’s not so much about being a man or woman but what one’s strenths are. Mine are more in the kitchen than with outside projects. I’m all thumbs when it comes to stuff like this but my husband happens to be quite the genious. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • I love the system you have set up. It’s not only functional and you have fresh herbs but, it’s pretty to look at! I do grow some of my own herbs too, but this system is the best! Thanks for sharing!

  • Chris and Scott, I love the many details that you included in this wonderful post and the pictures and all the wonderful explanations and I am seriously jealous of that lush, green herb garden a.k.a. as the “Herb Garden Drip System” – this is a fabulous idea!
    Have a wonderful Friday!

  • What a fabolous idea! I love it! I just wish I had a deck! 🙂 But you have inspired me. My dogs destroyed my vegetable garden. I built a fence around it so they wouldn’t get in and guess what? They dog holes udner the fence. We have sandy soil, so it makes it easy to dig a quick hole! My dog is obsessed with tomato plants! He eats the leaves and fruit! So with much disapointment, I decided not to do a vegetabel garden this year, until your post! In my front yard, I have a perfect large area along the house,that has over grown plants and th eperfect, healthy soil. I’m going to rip them all out after work today and start a new vegetable garden. I already miss my fresh herbs abd vegetables and I get pure joy out of my vegetable gardens. I texted my Husband and he said he would work on a drip line for me with a timer! Yah! Thank you for the inspirations. Hopefully by Sunday, I’ll be ready to plant!!

  • Okay that is really neat, and very helpful! I just planted my herbs, but my stand is not great. So my dad is designing a stand for my front porch. I have no good sunlight in my backyard, too many trees:-) I will be pinning your post and will share with my father, this is really fantastic, and your plants looks gorgeous!! Hugs, Terra

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